Being a Supportive Carer
Seonaidh has been a Supportive Carer for 5 years, and in that time she has had 5 Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Young People living with her, from a range of places – Afghanistan, Congo, Mail and the Kurdish region.
Here’s a snippet of Seonaidh’s experience of being a Supportive Carer.
What’s the most challenging part of the role?
Most of the young people have really limited English to start with. When we first meet, we have an interpreter. Then we use a translator app, but I encourage them not to use it so they can learn for themselves and don’t learn to rely on it. The council are quite quick at getting them into English lessons or getting a tutor, so that really helps them to learn quickly too.
There are negatives that come occasionally but you quickly forget about them and enjoy the good times.
”There are negatives that come occasionally but you quickly forget about them and enjoy the good times.
What do you need to be a Supportive Carer?
A good sense of humour is a must, and open communication.
One of my first rules I get the interpreter to say – especially with the boys is, when you use the toilet make sure you flush it away!
One lad I had, when he cooks he leaves the kitchen a mess. He learned that it was important to tidy up after himself, and on his last night he said ‘the most important thing is that the kitchen is tidy when I finish cooking’.
”A good sense of humour is a must, and open communication.
How do you balance being a Supportive Carer with living your life?
These young people are very independent, because they’ve learnt to be very independent so it’s not like you have to be on hand for them 24/7.
The first couple of weeks can be quite intensive because you take them to appointments at the doctor, the dentist and the opticians. There’s also meetings with social work and just getting them established and that’s probably the most time that you do lots of things with them.
After the first couple of weeks, I’m just supporting them to find their own feet. I work part time so it’s easily manageable.
I’ve gone away for a night here and there, and I’ve trusted them at home, because this is their home. I know that they have enough common sense that they’re not going to set the house on fire or have a massive party.
”I've gone away for a night here and there, and I’ve trusted them at home, because this is their home.
What do you enjoy about being a Supportive Carer?
You build up a great relationship with these people – they refer to me as their ‘Scottish Mummy’.
Providing a safe place for them. I don’t like to use the word grateful, but they are glad to be somewhere safe. In a house where they know that nobody’s going to come and get them. That’s one of the things that you say when they first come: you’re safe here now, this is your home. Their families – if they have families – appreciate that their children are somewhere safe.
The young person I have at the moment has been here since July, and apparently told his social worker that he doesn’t want to move!
It’s rewarding seeing them learning to be self-sufficient and move out, into their own places. Knowing that I’ve helped them get to that stage, along with the social workers and other professionals involved.
Recently we went to a ‘breaking of the fast’ get together with the other Supportive Carers and their young people. There must have been about 35 people there, so lots of fun and laughter. It was just nice to see them all having a good time and I enjoy that. It’s just like having an extended family.
”You build up a great relationship with these people - they refer to me as their ‘Scottish Mummy’.
”It's just like having an extended family.
”One of the things that you say when they first come: you're safe here now, this is your home.