Our MAPS mentoring project supports many young carers with one to one mentoring. Young Carers are under 18 and help to look after a relative such as a parent or sibling, with a disability, illness, mental health condition, or drug or alcohol problem.
The role of caring can bring many challenges for young people, such as feeling isolated among their peers. They may be lacking in confidence, have low attendance at school, or be unable to access positive activities within their community. Mentoring allows the young carer some time away from their caring duties, and to feel less isolated with the everyday challenges of caring for another.
On Young Carers Action Day we wanted to share the story of L, who is 11 years old. L’s mum has been ill with cancer which has meant that she has struggled to take part in family life.
L, 11 years old, was referred from school. It was the start of the first lockdown and the family were very isolated. He was struggling with his emotions and behaving poorly. School wanted L to receive a mentor who he could build a solid relationship with.
L was full of energy when we first met him, telling us that he wanted to get out more, to have someone to do activities with and try new things. He told us that his mum used to do things with him, but that her illness prevented that part of family life now.
Despite the pandemic, right from the start, L and his mentor took part in a wide variety of activities together. At our first review, L said:
"It’s been great doing lots of active things. It feels like I’ve had a really full day. Just going outside is nice. [My mentor] is really encouraging when we are doing sports or games. He makes me feel better about myself."
L’s self-assessment scores around constructive use of time doubled in the first 3 months of the relationship.
Like at school and home, L did push boundaries with his mentor, showing a need for attention and control, at the heart of which was a lack of confidence and self-esteem. Through the nurturing of the mentoring relationship, his mentor was able to give him the attention he needed, building his resilience through consistency and acceptance, modelling behaviours and responses, and gently challenging him.
At the end of the year, L said:
"I’m more confident now. I’m up for a challenge and I view things much more positively".
Interested in volunteering with MAPS Mentoring? Please give us your details here and one of the team will be in touch soon.
Sutton Carers Centre also offer a huge amount of support and services for young carers. Find out more...