Beth's Story

There are many examples of the positive impact attending the programme has had on the lives of individuals. One such young person is Beth, who was given the chance to attend the camps by Wiltshire Young Carers.

They are an organisation that work with young people who have caring responsibilities for someone else within their family because of, for example, illness, disability, mental health or substance misuse issues.

Beth was a quiet and self contained 12 year old when she came to the first camp. She acted older than her age in many ways, and found it difficult to relate to the other children. Beth is an only child and her mum has mental health problems which means that Beth has had to take on responsibilities above and beyond her years.

Beth was apprehensive about getting involved in some of the activities and seemed to find it difficult to relax and enjoy herself as a young person, gravitating instead towards adult company. She was anxious about taking risks or challenging herself and seemed to have low confidence and poor self identity. Beth often said she wouldn’t be able to do something, and was therefore reluctant to give it a go.

With a great deal of reassurance, encouragement and understanding from the volunteer staff and instructors at camp, Beth tried every activity and found she enjoyed them. She was amazed at herself for going caving, something she had been adamant she wasn’t going to try at the start of the week. She was also pleased to have had a go at both climbing and abseiling, and was particularly proud that she had trusted her peers to hold her ropes.

On the final day Beth came back from her canoeing trip with the biggest smile on her face; she had gone from a quiet, serious young person, who seemed older than her years, to a cheerful, giggly girl, happy to be part of a new found friendship group and to have pushed herself beyond her own expectations.

In the intervening year between camps Beth started to go to the Young Carers Support Group, something she had previously been shy and anxious about attending. Some of the other young people on the camp already attended the group so there were at least some familiar faces waiting there for her. Although this was a great benefit to Beth she began to have some problems at school, where she became the victim of bullying. After many months of this Beth began to withdraw from school and often made excuses not to attend. She also stopped going to the Young Carers Support Group.

Around 8 weeks prior to the second camp, Beth stopped attending school all together, after an incident when she had been seriously threatened by a group of girls. Beth became so intimidated that she refused to go out of the house at all and became extremely quiet and withdrawn much to everyone’s worry. Beth’s Young Carer’s worker contacted the Trust to say she felt that Beth was unlikely to attend the camp, as she was fearful to even leave the house let alone spend a week in Scotland.

It was decided that I would contact Beth and her mum to talk through her worries. After several conversations, Beth agreed she would come along and give it a go. It seemed important for her to break this pattern of staying in the house and it would be a chance to meet up with old friends; a whole separate group to those she had been having trouble with. Beth was able to reflect on her achievements at the previous camp; the activities she had participated in, but perhaps more importantly the friends she had made over the week, and this gave her the confidence to come along.

Beth came to the camp in Scotland and had a brilliant time. It was a big step for her but she said she was so pleased she decided to come along, and really proud of all she had achieved. Beth enjoyed the activities and seeing her friends again. After the camp Beth agreed to start at a new school. Her mum and the worker from Wiltshire Young Carers both said they felt the trip had made a real difference to Beth’s self esteem and confidence.

It had shown her that she could make friends, get on with people, challenge herself and achieve things she didn’t think possible. Beth has been back in school for almost 2 months now and is doing well. She is attending the Young Carer’s support group again and is hoping to start the Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme when she is old enough at the beginning of next year.

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