29 January 2021

Our Glowing Stars group has been “meeting” up online every week during the current lockdown to share their lockdown experiences as young carers and to receive additional support from the College welfare team.

The Google Meet sessions take place at 3pm each Thursday, with up to 20 students attending. The agenda is often steered by the students themselves so that they can decide what to talk about. They are also learning important skills from welfare staff, including First Aid, and self-care.

Glowing Stars Online is led by Miss Jones, one of our Welfare Assistants. Mrs Miller, Director of Student Welfare said: “Young carers are among those children who are allowed to attend school under the Government rules. But for many, this is not possible for risk reasons because they have a family member who is vulnerable. 

“This is adding to the challenges faced by young carers, who are learning at home in an environment where they have a sibling or parent with a mental health illness or a physical disability or where there are challenging behaviours. 

“Some of our Glowing Stars students also have additional responsibilities. For example, they have to do the shopping or help with household chores.”

The weekly online meeting is a way for the students to catch up with each other, and also offers the College welfare team an opportunity to “touch base” virtually with them. This is in addition to our regular phone calls and emails.

The welfare team has a wide range of skills and expertise - Miss Jones has a Child and Adolescent Mental Health degree. Miss Morgan is a qualified nurse and delivered a basic First Aid session in one of the meetings: “This is such an important skill for our young carers,” said Mrs Miller. “For some, they were learning something brand new, and for others, it was a refresher.

“We have also been exploring how the students can take care of their own well-being and have looked at the benefits of a daily walk. Sometimes, they can be so busy looking after others that they might not be prioritising looking after their own health.”

Another member of the welfare team, Mrs Corby, has identified the variety of nature and wildlife the students can look out for in the green spaces that are within walking distance of their homes. This is giving them something to do for themselves, and they are able to benefit from being around nature.

A socially distanced meeting at the College is planned for Glowing Stars before schools re-open to all students again. This will hopefully take place outdoors. Mrs Miller said: “The online meetings are great, but face-to-face is appreciated by our young carers. We want to address and relieve any understandable anxiety that the students might have about returning to the school environment.”

Looking ahead, when it is again possible, the College hopes to organise another trip to a Young Carers Camp, following the brilliant experience at the camp in Southampton in 2019.