Digital Journeys with Carers Trust
10 Jan 2018
I caught up with Alison Mitchell, Grants Manager at Carers Trust to hear how their Digital Reach pilot is going.
3 minute read
What is the purpose of your organisation?
Carers Trust is a charity working to improve support, services and recognition for anyone living with the challenges of caring – unpaid – for a family member or friend who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or addiction problems. We do this with a UK wide network of independent partners, called Network Partners.
What is the aim of your Digital Reach pilot?
We are working with the following seven Network Partners from across the UK to deliver the Digital Reach Programme to young adult carers:
- Action for Family Carers, Essex
- Carers Trust Cambridgeshire
- Falkirk & Clackmannanshire Carers Centre
- Carers Trust Carmarthenshire Crossroads Care
- Blackpool Carers Centre
- Newcastle Carers
- Sheffield Carers Centre
Last summer, Network Partner project workers along with two young adult carers joined the Carers Trust Grants Team for a workshop, led by Good Things Foundation, a charity that supports digitally and socially excluded people to improve their lives through digital. The purpose of the workshop was to develop an online tool which could be used to deliver training to young adult carers to help them to gain the basic digital skills they need to achieve their aspirations.
Tell us about your role – what gets you out of bed in the morning?
I work on a number of grant programmes, helping to distribute funds to our network of local carers’ services in order to support carers of all ages. One of the things I enjoy most about my job is hearing about the impact that our grants have made on the lives of carers. From small grants awarded to an individual carer to be used for a respite break or an essential piece of household equipment, to larger grants used by a Network Partner to hold an event for a group of carers, enabling them to develop new skills and socialise with other carers, it’s so rewarding.
How does your Digital Reach pilot engage with young people?
An online digital skills assessment was developed for Network Partner staff to use to identify specific digital needs of the young adult carers. An online tool consisting of modules from Good Things Foundation’s Learn My Way (an online learning platform) and the Young Adult Carers Resource Bank (a directory of relevant and trusted online resources) was established to meet these needs.
Delivery of the training sessions to young adult carers began in Autumn 2017, with Network Partners coming up with a whole host of ways to engage young adult carers in the project. For example, Carers Trust Cambridgeshire are taking a ‘roadshow’ approach to the training, with project workers delivering sessions to small groups in many different venues in Cambridgeshire and the surrounding area. While Action for Family Carers has enlisted the help of their Young Adult Carer Forum members who have tested the online tool, with some of them volunteering to be Digital Champions, helping to deliver training to their peers.
Meanwhile, Newcastle Carers Centre have held both group and individual training sessions with some fantastic results, including one young adult carer using the skills he developed to go on to set up an email address and complete essential online safeguarding training that led to him securing a volunteering role. His lack of digital skills had been a barrier to him accessing volunteering and employment opportunities so the training has been transformative in helping him realise his ambitions.
What are your aspirations for the project?
For me, it’s that the young adult carers participating in the project will not only feel more confident in their digital skills but will go on to use those skills to achieve really positive outcomes in their lives.
Finally, what are the next steps for the pilot?
As the project progresses we’re looking forward to hearing more stories like this from our Network Partners about the effect the training is having on young adult carers and the positive impact improving their digital skills is having on their lives.
Follow #DigitalReach on Twitter for the latest updates.