Project aims to improve mental health of young adult carers

“Feelings of loneliness, isolation, stress and anxiety are all too common.”

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A housing project aims to address the mental health needs of young adult carers, as part of a holistic approach to offering them more choice.

Pilot project Move On Up, run by Quaker Social Action in partnership with Commonweal Housing, is housing carers aged 18-25 across four properties in east London, and is the first housing option in the country designed specifically for this group.

While living in shared housing, the tenants also receive tailored support to offer them choice and independence.

The pilot project is undergoing external evaluation by the Learning and Work Institute, to help assess whether it is improving outcomes and life choices for young adult carers. A recent report by the Institute showed improved wellbeing and mental health among tenants because of the intervention.

One participant said: “I want to [progress with] my career, so obviously because I am looking after my mum at the time or full-time I couldn’t really think about any full-time work because a full-time carer is a job in itself, so you can’t really commit to anything for yourself.

“That’s the reason why [I wanted to participate in Move On Up], just space and giving yourself time to think to know exactly what I want to do.”

The interim report suggests living independently can help some young adult carers improve the quality of care they were able to provide, as well as improving the relationships with the recipient family members.

Nicola Aylward, Head of Learning for Young People at the Learning and Work Institute, said: “Young adult carers make a huge contribution to their families and to society. Through no fault of their own they face a wide range of difficulties as they navigate pathways to independence, often juggling the pressures of caring with attempts to forge a life for themselves.

“Feelings of loneliness, isolation, stress and anxiety are all too common.

She added: “Early findings from the Move on Up project suggest that it is having a positive impact. It’s addressing a gap in support and enabling participants to make quicker transitions in education and employment.

“Participants also report improved physical and mental wellbeing, alongside space to develop their own identity.”

Each participant is encouraged to set personal goals, such as finding employment, education or somewhere to live. They are supported by a project manager who helps them to achieve these goals.

Jon Scarth, Project Manager of Move On Up, said: “Move On Up has been having a significant impact on the lives of the young adult carers we are housing.

“Each tenant has been given the assistance to set out what they would like to achieve, whether it’s developing professional skills or help with applying for university.

“In each case, they have been able to make positive life changes in an independent space. We’re excited to be able to share our learnings so far through this report and looking forward to developing the project further to continue to help the people we house.”

Commonweal Chief Executive Ashley Horsey added: “At Commonweal, we champion trying and testing new ideas to combat social injustice, and Move On Up is doing just that.

“The project is having an obvious impact on the lives of a group that is often not thought about.

“We’re proud of the work that QSA have been doing, and this report shows how important it is to helping keep young adult carers from becoming homeless.”

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