How you can support carers to be part of Girlguiding in a way that works for them
Give carers a break by including them in the supportive environment of your unit.
Both adult and young carers are part of guiding. They face a number of pressures that other volunteers and young members may not encounter such as:
- feelings of isolation
- financial pressure
- additional time pressure
- loss of personal identity.
A carer is someone who cares for a friend or family member, without being paid. This could be because of:
- mental health
A person with caring responsibilities may not identify themselves as a carer. This may be because they feel at risk of discrimination or because they do not recognise that they are a carer.
How can guiding help?
Guiding can provide young and adult carers with a connection to their wider community, respite from caring, and the chance to develop new skills and have unique experiences. Whether they have the capacity to be involved each week, or can only attend on an occasional basis, they will have the opportunity to develop strong, caring friendships.
Including young and adult carers
Work around them
When organising meetings, try to include the person and be as flexible as possible. With volunteers, you might decide to hold a planning meeting at their house, or earlier in the day. With young members, they may need to arrive and leave meetings at different times, so make sure they feel comfortable doing this.
There should always be enough members of your leadership team to fulfil adult to child ratios if one team member can’t attend.
Inclusion at residentials
For both young and adult carers, staying overnight with guiding may be tricky. Could you plan the event so that they could attend for the day and leave in the evening?
Carers may not disclose their personal circumstances, but this may affect their behaviour in the unit. For example, they may become upset or overwhelmed during meetings and need to take some some time away from the group. You may wish to make a quiet space available for all girls during meetings.
Create an accessible programme
Be flexible with your programme so young carers can still achieve badges and awards if they're unable to attend every week.
Plan your programme ahead of time and share it with carers as early as possible. Having a copy of the planned activities in advance will help both young and adults carers to prioritise their time, giving them the opportunity to organise additional care.
Encourage them to stay involved
For some adult carers, a regular commitment may be too much, so it's important to let them know all about our various volunteering opportunities. Keep young carer members in the loop with regular communications about meetings and events.
Financial support - young carers may struggle with guiding costs, so follow our guidance on supporting members from low income backgrounds.
Your role as a trusted adult
A young carer may wish to talk to you as an adult that they trust and have regular contact with. They may also choose to speak with any young leaders in your unit, so make sure that you are available to support young leaders too.
This is an important responsibility, so if a girl turns to you for advice or support, make time to listen. If you are in the middle of a group activity, tell her that you will carry on your conversation after the activity has ended. Make sure that you follow through with this and are consistent. Be honest and do your best to answer any questions that a girl might have - as long as it's appropriate for you to do so.
See our full guidance on safeguarding members.
Where to get support
- Carers Trust - provides information, advice and support for carers.
- Babble - an online community for young carers
- Al-anon - provides support for those affected by alcohol.
- Al-ateen - provides support for teenage relatives and friends of alcoholics.
- MindEd - online learning platform about child and youth mental health with a pathway for Girlguiding volunteers.