Let’s Cook: Young Carers Cookbook
23 December 2021 | Fiona Rogers, Queen's Nurse
Young carers do an amazing job yet are often unknown to the health and care professionals around them. Caring for a family member or members, juggling schoolwork, friendships, social life and managing their own health needs is a challenge.
Across West Yorkshire over 1500 young carers are registered with young carers services who support them in their role as a young carer. There are around 400,000 carers across the area (an approximate number because many don’t access support). The work of the Unpaid Carers Programme Young Carers workstream aims to improve the outcomes of young carers with a system-wide strategic innovative approach.
Engagement events for young carers identified a need for resources that would support their health and well-being and were specifically designed for young carers and the cookbook idea was founded.
Award-winning verd de gris arts company were commissioned and the journey began… and halted due to Covid. Plans to have interactive face-to-face workshops were shelved and zoom sessions were arranged. Verd de gris noted there was already a myriad of cookery books and this would be a bespoke e-resource designed by young carers for young carers based on their own experiences of food, being a young carer and provide helpful tips and cooking skills.
Always wash your hands for 30 seconds and never give up on your cooking skills and don’t put pressure on yourself.Olivia, aged 12
Eleven young carers participated between the ages of six and fourteen including boys and girls. Art materials and ‘the brief’ were sent ahead of the zoom workshops to get their creative juices flowing! The workshops were filled full of laughter, fun, colour and stories about food, favourite recipes and caring with a few breaks to share jokes too! A host of materials was developed, and additional materials were designed and gathered over the summer. Their young voices asked about the launch – would it be face to face? Can it be like a real book launch? The book was skillfully crafted, expertly capturing not just their artwork but their personalities too. Co-production continued with young carers reviewing and commenting to co-produce the final version.
An outdoor theme was planned in collaboration with local young carer services. Engagement identified pizza was always a popular choice and the Let’s Cook Roadshow was planned. A local catering company was commissioned to lead a ‘hands-on’ pizza-making session for twenty young carers in each place (Bradford District and Craven; Calderdale, Harrogate, Kirklees, Leeds and Wakefield) with a focus on healthy ingredients.
Six events in six places took place with each place meeting the needs of its local young carers. Halloween parties, fruit kebabs, dodgeball, Healthy Me activities, arts and crafts all with the golden thread of FUN woven through every event. Several books were published and presented with a certificate to the young carers who contributed as a memento of their involvement in the project. It was important to Make Every Contact Count too and the local 0-19 service supported an event delivering healthy messages and at another event a Primary Care Network General Practice Nurse Young People’s lead shared information about Social Prescribing and the Young People’s Clinic. Oral health and physical activity resources were sourced to take away.
The events had brilliant feedback, being both fun and informative and for many young carers, it was their first face-to-face meeting with services and other young carers since lockdown. Their smiles were huge and their laughter was loud and memories were created coproducing a useful funky resource!
Fiona Rogers QN
Young Carers Coordinator
West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership