What we do Worcestershire Young Carers BBC Children in Need Participation Group What is the Participation Group? The Worcestershire Young Carers Participation Group is funded by BBC Children in Need and is in its fourth year. The main purpose is to give young carers a voice and an opportunity to influence the services and decisions that affect them. With funding from Children in Need, YSS employs a part-time Participation Worker, Vicky Parker, to support young carers to get their voices heard. The group meets on the first Monday of every month. Each meeting is supported by Vicky, and is chaired and minuted by young carers. There are wide ranging discussions on issues affecting young carers, such as the support they feel they need, what they would like our service to look like and how we can work to raise young carers aspirations. There are also regular visits from external agencies and organisations, looking to consult with young carers to help shape the services they offer. These include Worcestershire County Council, the Health and Wellbeing board and the Better Health Partnership. The group have also planned and delivered three successful conferences in five years, with professionals from education, health, social care, the voluntary sector and many more making up the delegate list. How does the Participation Group help? Many young carers suffer with low self-esteem and confidence due to the additional barriers they face in their lives. The Participation Group offers the chance to build confidence through engaging in group discussions and influencing decisions, whilst receiving support from both the Participation worker and peer support from other group members. Young carers tend to have lower aspirations in life and are also more likely to move on to employment within the caring sector. The group helps provide valuable transferable skills such as meeting skills, team work, public speaking and negotiation that can help young carers widen their aspirations and look further afield for employment opportunities. What difference does the Participation Group make? YSS uses the funding generously gifted from BBC Children in Need to focus on making three important differences to the lives of young carers. The Participation group aims to: Provide young carers with transferable skills; planning, chairing and engaging in monthly meetings, discussions with external agencies and organisations, and planning and delivering conferences help to develop skills around negotiation and team work. Increase young carers' confidence to influence the services that affect them; through the support of the Participation worker and the added peer support that comes from being part of an established group, young carers have had a direct influence on the services that affect them. Early Help providers in Worcestershire now have a young carers 'tick box' on their assessment forms; a direct result of the conference in 2015. Young carers were also involved in consultations around the service YSS delivers as part of Worcestershire County Councils re-commissioning process in 2015. Hear what real people have to say: When I first started Participation Group, I didn’t have the confidence to talk to anyone but gradually I made new friends and now feel comfortable expressing my views. I’ve also enjoyed working on the Better Health Partnerships programme because I get to meet people from different districts and raise awareness Participation group member Just a quick email to say thank you for inviting me along to the conference. I found it a hugely enjoyable, informative and thought-provoking event, and I was incredibly impressed with the eloquence of the young people who spoke, as well as the videos and discussion group exercises they had put together. I thought there was a really good balance between the individual experiences of each young person and highlighting the common themes, challenges, and indeed positive aspects of being a young carer. That can be a very difficult balance to strike, so it’s huge credit to the group- and to the support you give them- how well it was done. 2016 Conference delegate Want to get involved? Donate We currently work with more than 400 young carers from across Worcestershire but we know this is just the tip of the iceberg. We want to support as many young carers as possible and you can help us do that. Please donate to support our clubs and activities which, for many, provide the rare opportunity to experience new things, socialise and have fun away from their caring roles. Click here to donate. Become a Worcestershire Young Carers Volunteer If you are interested in becoming an Worcestershire Young Carers volunteer please download our Volunteer Role Description here and click here to download our Volunteer Application form. Make a referral Young carers can self-refer to the service, or can be referred by a professional. To make a referral, please fill in the forms here. Once a referral is received, a keyworker will contact the family and arrange a time for our assessment.