Being a digital ambassador for young carers
23 Jan 2018
In this guest post, Amen Dhesi tells us how digital skills can help young carers take a moment for themselves, and how he is helping others to do the same through MYMUP, an NHS WDP Pathfinder in Bradford.
My name is Amen Dhesi, a 22-year-old university student completing a masters in Psychology of Sport & Exercise. I have evolved from a young carer who was isolated, unconfident, and self-harming into an outspoken campaigner for mental health discrimination and carers rights. A journey which took its course, resulting in me proudly becoming a Making Your Mind Up Digital Ambassador. I would firstly like to recognise all young carers who day in day out cope with the stressors of seeing a loved one live with a physical or mental health condition.
Being a young carer is difficult. It sets you apart from classmates and friends due to additional responsibilities, such as a weekly shop on your own for a family of 4 at the age of 13. A task which now I am grateful for due to the maturity I have developed, being able to speak to unfamiliar faces, which aids with networking skills. I believe Young Carers Awareness Day is incredibly important in acknowledging the unsung heroes who provide vital around-the-clock care for their nearest and dearest. From an economical perspective, carers save the state a phenomenal £132 billion.
In Bradford, MYMUP are leading the Pathfinder project which is empowering young carers using digital technology. This is supported through Widening Digital Participation, which is funded by NHS Digital. MYMUP are working with Bradford College and Barnardo's Young Carers. The aim of the Bradford pathfinder is to look at how digital can support young people across Bradford to develop emotional wellbeing and build resilience.
By using digital resources we are enabling individuals who may have difficulty regulating their emotions to understand how to look after themselves. Carers are often short for time, with their own self-care paying the price. If you are caring for someone just stop and take a moment for yourself. Whether that be downloading an app to engage in mindfulness, watching a movie, or going for a walk in green nature. Through my time at university I have realised the importance of nutrition, exercise, posture, tv viewing time, and self-care. As a digital ambassador and a young carer, I hope the pathfinder provides a respite to young people who have increasing emotional pressure due to their caring demands. Personally, I think using digital to aid emotional resilience is a fantastic idea. Young people are constantly on their phones with social media, therefore phones can also be used for something productive such as a meditation or improving emotional awareness.
We are currently working on our next event to promote the value of digital participation and explore some of the solutions to digital exclusion. Love Bradford, Love Digital is the theme of next Echo Chamber event, which will bring decision makers, specialist services, and organisations together with individuals who are passionate about how digital strategies can promote and support wellbeing and resilience across Bradford. I will be attending the day to help steer conversations and develop people's understanding of how digital can be used in a positive way. The Echo Chamber will take place on the 14th February in Bradford City Hall between 1:30-3:30pm. If you would like to be involved, please email my colleague: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To conclude, being a young carer can have a significant impact on a young person's health and wellbeing. Young Carers Awareness Day is a moment where we can empathise, value, and be proud of the selfless work unpaid carers complete year in year out.