After recently celebrating her first anniversary milestone as a member of the The Benjamin Foundation Young Carers team, Support Worker Rachel has very kindly written an article about starting a new chapter and her role supporting local Young Carers.
“Whilst studying for my degree and wishing for a place to study Social Work, I needed some experience with young people prior to my application to the University of East Anglia. After an interview with The Benjamin Foundation, I learned I would be working with Young Carers. This started as the odd fill-in for lovely trips out with some of the young people and then I was offered a position to be a permanent member of the BOOM! Young Carers team helping to run a weekly Youth Club.
We started by meeting in a local park with strict Covid restrictions in place. I fully embraced the sprint race and, with the slight hill that made my short legs run faster than they had ever before, I royally rolled and tumbled my way to the finish line. However I did win purely to the fact that my competitors had fallen on the floor with laughter!
Our first group session in our new location came around. I was so nervous; my eyes like a deer in headlights when the first young person came in and said “Do you play ‘Among Us?” I had NO IDEA what this was but loved that I could be taught something there and then. Although I still haven’t really grasped the concept of the game, I do look cool to those who haven’t met me before by asking them if they play it too! We all sat around in a circle and I soon realised that my headlight eyes were met with nine other pairs of wide, headlight eyes looking back at me; we all felt so nervous of each other. But then we all discovered Dodgeball and we have never looked like those deer again since. We played the whole first session and those nine young people are still to this day some of the most regular attendees, coming week in and week out, whether the groups are face-to-face or online due to Covid restrictions, and they embrace each and every new member by welcoming them into the group.
One young person in particular has blossomed from having the group interaction. To see how her confidence and self-esteem has grown week on week is just amazing and so heart-warming. From sitting in the corner not speaking to a single soul and taking it all in, she gradually has increased her distance from the corner and made some lifelong friends. It took six sessions for her to come over with a book, sit with me and play a game of ‘Would You Rather.’ She pulled up a chair and I just grinned at her, feeling so proud of how far she had come, and I have such admiration for her for stepping out of her comfort zone and becoming a massive part of our wonderful group.
The aim for the future of our BOOM! Young Carers group is to keep it growing and to make sure our Young Carers continue to benefit from the friendships, experience and fun that all of us have built together. During some group sessions, we have every emotion throughout the evening; each time that young person needs to express themselves, we make sure they can and we are there to help them through it – but the best times are when we all laugh. Laughter and fun is building our appreciation for each other. We have random mascots such as a white pineapple, guinea pigs, a cupboard full of beans and nicknames are starting to form. We have even discovered that one member not only holds a Blue Peter badge (which I am so jealous of) but she also holds a world record!
The best step I ever made was applying for this job. I get to have the most random conversations, the deepest conversations and get to be an ambassador for a company I love and feel passionate about.
So here I am, accepted onto the Social Work Masters with all my gratitude and determination gained from my Young Carers; each and every one of them is my inspiration for the future. Guys you rock, always be you!
It was just over a year ago that I began my journey with The Benjamin Foundation as a clueless but determined rookie; I was going to change the lives of every young person that came into the service and make society a much greater and fairer place.
How wrong I was; it is the young people who have changed me.”
Thank you to Rachel for sharing her story. To find out more about our support for Young Carers, please visit: https://benjaminfoundation.co.uk/service/boom-young-carers/