Meet the team…Jane Borer, Client Services Manager

We have a vacancy for another Client Services Advisor. Jane Borer shares some insights on her team and what her best piece of advice to her younger self would be

The Client Services team plays a vital role in achieving Triangle's mission and vision. We aim to listen and learn from our clients to support Triangle in creating effective tools which can support service providers to help people achieve sustainable change, whatever the future may hold.

Jane Borer

Firstly, tell us a bit about the Client Services team, and how it works with Triangle…

How has the Triangle and the Client Services team changed over the years? Why is this? 

Triangle has grown so quickly, when I started working with Sara and Joy back in 2010 I was covering maybe one or two calls a day, organizing training courses, sending out packs of Star materials to clients, and preparing invoices and licences. It soon became unsustainable, so more people were recruited, then we started to take on broader tasks and we became involved in many different aspects of client support as the business grew in response to the needs of our clients and demand for the Stars. We have evolved in to a thriving team, with skills that have added immense value to how Triangle has been able to both support existing clients, and attract new ones.

How does Client Services integrate with other teams at Triangle? 

As we are the first point of contact for the majority of interested and existing clients, and we provide planning and co-ordination support to the setting up of new accounts and the ongoing maintenance of existing ones,  we work closely with every other team – we have to liaise closely with the Training team, we are in constant contact with the Implementation team to share knowledge about clients, we work closely with the marketing and comms team to engage with new campaigns and disseminate important information about the Star, and we then respond to the follow up from that. We are also closely linked with our internal systems team as heavy users of the CRM, and of course our finance colleagues to ensure clients are receiving their invoices. Another aspect of our work is to share knowledge across the teams, especially for the Directors, so they can use it for making strategic decisions.

What qualities do you and the team have in abundance? 

We are a diverse team of professionals with varied backgrounds and skills, and we all complement each other – the main common qualities that I feel we all share are warmth, the ability to build relationships, empathy, flexibility, and we all have a VERY good sense of humour!

Where do you see the Outcomes Star and the Client Services team five years from now? 

I see continued increase in demand for the Outcomes Star, across many diverse sectors. In Triangle’s mission statement one of the goals is that we are “responding to a changing world” and I see the Client Services team as a key element in achieving this goal – we will listen and learn from our clients, and share this learning across Triangle so that we are continuing to produce tools that can support service providers to help people achieve sustainable change, whatever the future may hold.

And on a lighter note… we’d love to know more about you…

If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?  

I would want to help people to see the joy and fun in everything, and remember to always be NICE! 

If you could have dinner with three people dead or alive, who would they be and why? 

Oh easy –1) David Bowie – just because 2)  Clint Eastwood – for all the stories of Hollywood – and 3) Yootha Joyce – my favourite British comedy actress and one who is often totally underrated.

What did you want to be/do when you were growing up? 

I swayed between wanting to be a ballerina, an air hostess and a nurse. I didn’t do any dance classes as a child so the ballerina was not even a remote possibility! The air hostess and nursing options were probably more to do with the uniforms and the TV shows I watched at the time!

What book are you reading at the moment?

I used to read all the time when I commuted from Brighton to London for work back in the day, then I struggled to find the time when I had my son, but like so many other people lockdown has given me the chance to reignite my enjoyment, and I’ve read more since March 2020 than I have for the last 18 years! I’m currently reading  two books, “The Last Thing to Burn” by Will Dean which is excellent, and the latest autobiography of Michael J Fox, which is really inspirational, as he describes living with Parkinson’s Disease.

What’s your favourite film?

I have many – “Some Like it Hot”, “The Bridges of Madison County”, any of the Peter Sellers Clouseau/Pink Panther films, and Wayne’s World – 1 and 2 – a rather strange mix but one that pretty much sums me up!

Best piece of advice you’d give to your younger self? 

Stop caring so much about what other people think about you, and always do your own research and be confident to make up your own mind!

****

For more information on our current vacancies please visit our Careers page. To find out more about the team and what it’s like working at Triangle take a look at our blog series and meet some of our other staff.

Better outcomes for refugees

The genesis of the Integration Star

In a follow-up to our webinar introducing the Integration Star, research analyst Dr Anna Good tells the story of how the new Star for refugees came into being.

Help for refugees to integrate into this country has long been under-resourced and patchy. Specialist refugee organisations are doing brilliant work, but many other services struggle to work out how best to support refugees. And until recently, there’s been little in the way of solid outcomes data that can help shape service delivery.

It’s this context that spurred the creation of the Integration Star – a tool for services working with refugees that enables both better conversations and better outcomes.

The new Star has come out of an exciting and timely meeting of minds. For some years, Triangle had been interested in developing a Star for refugees. “It was on our radar, and several refugee organisations had said it would be great to have an Outcomes Star,” says Triangle director Sara Burns. “I could see it could really work. But because refugee support services tend to be small organisations and quite poorly funded, there was never the support necessary for the collaboration.”

“So I was delighted when in 2018 the Refugee Council approached us and said they wanted to collaborate on a Star. They’d just received a tranche of European funding for a refugee integration programme, and as part of that they had undertaken a commitment to collaboratively create a tool for refugee integration.”

The wider integration and employment programme, New Roots, was led by the Refugee Council in partnership with organisations in Yorkshire and Humberside, and has supported some 2700 refugees, often with complex and multiple needs. In our recent webinar, Better Conversations, Better Outcomes, Refugee Council head of integration Andrew Lawton explains that this programme gave the organisation an excellent opportunity ”to consider how we assessed the impact of our services, not just for the Refugee Council but also for its clients and for others working in the same space”.

“We had often felt that there was more we as an organisation could do to demonstrate a consistent way of measuring an individual’s progression as a result of our support,” he says.

At the time, the Home Office was working on a new framework to support its integration strategy, Indicators of Integration. However, that didn’t include a practical tool for service delivery organisations to measure outcomes. So the participants in the New Roots programme decided to collaborate on a tool that could work for people providing help on the ground, aligned with the Home Office Indicators of Integration.

“We wanted to work towards a set of outcomes that could be used across a range of front line services and that could be shared with other services doing similar work,” says Andrew Lawton.

The Refugee Council was already aware of the Outcomes Stars and approached Triangle about a new Star for refugees. And so the collaboration – between Triangle, the Refugee Council, four New Roots partners and ten refugee community organisations – was born.

These organisations formed the expert committee that helped develop the outcome areas and Journey of Change for the Integration Star. As research analyst at Triangle, I carried out an initial literature review around important outcome areas for working with refugees and mapped these onto the domains in the Home Office’s framework. This research was used to inform Triangle’s tried and tested iterative process of working closely with managers, practitioners and service users to draft and refine the new version of the Star.

“The result? ‘An evaluation tool that places the beneficiary at the centre of their own journey.’”

Andrew Lawton

Throughout the process we were careful to make sure that new Star could work both for refugees arriving through a government resettlement programme and for those who enter the asylum process after arrival. While resettlement refugees receive a package of support that starts with meeting them at the airports and encompasses finding accommodation and providing day-to-day integration casework, the same specialist support doesn’t exist for other refugees. “It’s left to refugee support organisations and the wider voluntary sector to intervene depending on capacity, funding and services they have available,” says Andrew Lawton.

The result of the collaboration? In Andrew Lawton’s words, “an evaluation tool that places the beneficiary at the centre of their own journey, providing them with a tool that is visual, that helps them recognise their own achievements, and really track their own progress with the support of an adviser”.

Following extensive testing and revision, the final version of the Integration Star was published in autumn last year.

“It was a long time coming,” says Sara Burns. “But we’re delighted it happened – it’s a really important tool for the refugee sector.”

Collaborators in developing the Integration Star 
The Refugee Council
RETAS (Refugee Education Training Advice Service), Leeds
PATH Yorkshire
Humber Community Advice Services (H-CAS)
Goodwin Development Trust.

10 community refugee organisations
Leeds Refugee Forum, Refugee Action Kingston, Iranian Association, Diversity Living Services, Bahar Women’s Association, Action for Community Development, West Yorkshire Somali Association, DAMASQ, Stepping Stone 4 and Leeds Swahili Community.

*****

The Integration Star was published at the end of 2020. A separate version, for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, the Planning Star, was published in July 2020. Both Stars are available to all organisations with a Star licence and training is available for workers and managers. Contact us for more information on info@triangleconsulting.co.uk or +44 (0) 207 272 8765.

A day in the life of… the client services team

We asked our Client Services Manager, Jane Borer what a day in the life of her team looks like...

One of the best parts of working in client services at Triangle is that I get to speak to people (keyworkers, managers and organisations) that really inspire me.

Jane Borer

What’s a typical day look like in Client Services? 

A typical day involves checking the new enquiries that have come in, both via email and the phone, and planning how to respond, also catching up with work in progress, arranging training and licenses, and having Zoom/Teams calls with clients or colleagues. It’s busy, and you have to be prepared to be sidelined away from something, it’s rarely possible to focus on one thing and get it completed. This can be frustrating, but there’s never a dull moment. I’m often heard to be saying “Now, what was I doing before I got distracted…”! 

How do you ensure you provide a first rate customer service to clients and colleagues? 

Client Care is our mantra, every email and phone call is either a potential new Star user, or someone who can be supported by Triangle to use the Star even better than they already do, and if we get that right, then the people THEY support are going to benefit. It’s all about ensuring we respond in a responsive and timely way. Any query that comes in to us is responded to within 24 hours if at all possible, at least with an initial contact, to arrange a conversation, which increasingly since lock down now happens via Zoom rather than the traditional phone call! We troubleshoot for our colleagues too, and have a similar approach in our responsiveness to their requests for support.

What top three things about the Outcomes Star do you get asked by potential clients? 

Mainly 1) – how does it work? 2) – what will the benefits be to my service and the people I support? and 3) – who are the other services just like mine who are using it, and how does it benefit them?

What’s the most challenging thing about working in Client Services? 

The pace is very demanding, you have to be responsive to whatever comes your way, and you never really know what that might be. You also have to be prepared to juggle many different tasks and keep lots of plates spinning.

What’s the most rewarding thing about working in Client Services? 

Hearing the back stories from clients about how they started their charities, what drives them, their passion for what they do – and gaining a huge understanding for the difficulties and challenges that so many people face on a daily basis. Also, when a client tells you how using the Star has had an impact on not only their service users but on them as a team, then that is fantastic and gives you that “this is why I do my job” buzz.

*****

Sign up for our newsletter for more information, updates and news about vacancies. Take a look at our our other blogs to find out more about Triangle, our other teams and their members. We are currently recruiting for a Client Services Advisor to work with Jane and the team: visit our vacancy page for more information and a job description or contact us for a chat about the role.

LT resource update

During 2020 we launched a new online system, and all training resources were moved over to that new site in November 2020. The ‘training library’ that some Licensed Trainers may remember has now gone and everything can be found in one place on the Star Online.

All Licensed Trainers should have been sent a new log-in and password to enable them to access the site even if their organisation doesn’t use the Star Online for recording service user Stars. 

There is also a second site, the ‘training site’ which all Licensed Trainers can access.  The single function of the training site is to enable new practitioners and colleagues to understand how the system works.  Trainers can access this site and, if their organisation uses the Star Online system for completing and recording service user Stars, then they will find it a really helpful option. 

What’s new?

There are some new resources in the main site and a useful discrete space for Licensed Trainers in the help section. By accessing the training site, all Licensed Trainers can set up self-directed learning opportunities for their colleagues to practice using the system or trainers can just use it to deliver demonstrations of how it works.

So how do Licensed Trainers access other versions of the Star?

This has been a question that has been asked by many Licensed Trainers, so here is the answer…

Licensed Trainers are only able to access training resources for Stars that are linked to their account (these will have been set up by the account lead for each organisation).  If a decision is made to use a new Star version within an organisation or service, then the request for additional Star versions to be added to the account will need to be made by the manager of the service to the account lead. This request will need to be made before the training takes place or trainers will not be able to access training resources or other resources such as User Guides and Star Charts. 

*****

Licensed Trainers are part of a community of trainers. For more information on the benefits and uses of becoming a Licensed Trainer or what the process entails, please contact laura@triangleconsulting.co.uk

Demo dates for April-June 2021

A series of free introductory sessions for clients and trainers/trainees introducing them to the Star Online System are planned for April, May and June.

Each webinar will consist of a short video presentation, which will be followed by a question and answer season and it is designed to support clients by sharing knowledge, ideas and information. Please note: these sessions are not a substitute for official training.

A Practitioners Guide to the Star Online

This session is only relevant to practitioners who use the SOL and is not a substitute for training. The session covers an orientation of the new Star Online and during the session we will introduce practitioners to the new Star Online features, such as setting up engagements and managing notifications. It will also explore many of the main tasks practitioners need to complete, including:

  • Creating a service user
  • Adding Stars and Action Plans
  • Navigating the Help Centre and
  • Locating the Star resources you need

Click on the links below to book your place.

laptop with star online open on the screen

How to use the Reports dashboard on Star Online

Hosted by two Star experts, this workshop is ideal for Managers and anyone responsible for producing reports on Outcomes Star data. This session will cover:

  • The three new report dashboards for implementation, snapshot and distance-travelled reporting
  • How to use the filters
  • How to think about engagements to create instant and engaging charts that can be downloaded to add to any report or funding bid.

We will also discuss what the reports can tell you about how Stars are being used in a service and the progress made by service users.

Click on the links below to book your place.

These webinars are not a substitute for core training.

For more information on the sessions, how to book, or what clients need to do, please take a look at our previous posts, or find the links through the Star Online. Please note: We have limited spaces available, and we expect them to fill up quickly!

*****

If you would like to be included in a mailing list for future webinars, demo’s or sessions, please sign up for our mailing list, and if you have suggestions or would like to request specific content and sessions on the Outcomes Star and the Star Online please email webinars@triangleconsulting.co.uk

If you have any questions about remote training, new Stars, or would like any information on the new Star Online, or anything else, please contact us on info@triangleconsulting.co.uk or +44 (0) 207 272 8765.

Introducing CPD sessions for Licensed Trainers

A series of CPD sessions free for Licensed Trainers to educate, inform, inspire, and connect us all.

Triangle’s training and implementation teams have been hard at work to create a new series of CPD training sessions for all of our Licensed Trainers across the world. Licensed Trainers (LT’s) are individuals within organisations who have been nominated and trained to effectively deliver training and support within their organisations. As part of the Licensed Trainer support, Triangle has, in the past, offered a series of Development Days which provide an opportunity for Licensed Trainers to gain additional support, training, update their skills and network across other organisations.

 

What are the CPD sessions?

These new CPD sessions have been developed as a result of the changing working environment and in response to requests from the Trainers to provide ongoing support and regular CPD in specific areas. Licensed Trainers must complete a total of 6 hours of CPD training across the year in order to maintain their LT status.

 

What do the sessions cover?

These sessions cover a range of subjects and draw on specialist knowledge and information across Triangle and beyond. Licensed Trainers are encouraged to book sessions in areas that are of interest to their work and organisations.

When are the CPD sessions?

The CPD sessions are scheduled across the year. More information below:

Licensed Trainers will be emailed details of the sessions and information on how to book their places. For more information, please email laura@triangleconsulting.co.uk.

*****

Licensed Trainers are trained and licenced to run Outcomes Star training within an organisation. This ‘train the trainer’ route can be cost-effective for large organisations. For more information on how to become a Licensed Trainer and the benefits of joining the team please contact us.

Planning Star helps provide sensitive support for young asylum seekers

Photograph of Marie Buss

There was a sharp rise in the number of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children arriving in the UK last year, and children’s services are increasingly having to gear up to support them. It’s not easy – but the new Planning Star for young asylum seekers is ideally suited to the task, explains Triangle implementation manager Marie Buss

In August last year Kent County Council announced that it was no longer able to accept unaccompanied asylum-seeking children into its care – it had simply run out of capacity. The numbers of children, mainly teenagers, arriving on our shores without the care or protection of parents, had escalated, and local authorities in the South East were finding it hard to cope.

“Staff who aren’t used to supporting young asylum seekers need to be ready to meet their complex needs”

The Government’s National Transfer Scheme for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children is now under review to prevent the same thing happening again, and responsibility for these children is likely to be shared more equally around the UK. If that happens, staff who aren’t used to supporting vulnerable young asylum seekers need to be ready to meet their complex needs.

That’s where the Planning Star will really help. Designed in collaboration with the South East Strategic Partnership for Migration and the specialist charity Pathways to Independence, the Planning Star is specifically designed to support these young asylum seekers. It recognises that they arrive in this country without their parents, having undergone terrible experiences, and they can’t be expected to trust people, settle or integrate when they don’t even have a decision that they’re allowed to stay here.

Importantly, it takes into account that these children are traumatised, and it doesn’t push staff into trying to do support plans that may prove unrealistic. It shapes a conversation that covers the right areas and is sensitive to that child’s experience. And it’s very visual, which is crucial for children struggling with learning a new language on top of everything else.

“The Star is very forgiving and it’s very trauma-informed.”

So I think it will be incredibly useful for local authorities, children’s charities and residential services to have the Planning Star in their back pocket. As an implementation manager for Triangle, I’ve done some training with services where they were using the Young Person’s Star (for looked-after children) with everyone, including unaccompanied young asylum-seekers. I’ve shown them the Planning Star and trained them in the difference. And the response has been “thank goodness!”, because the Planning Star recognises that asylum-seeking children are on a totally different journey, and have very little control over their lives.

The Star is very forgiving and it’s very trauma-informed. It accepts that children and young people may be starting with a feeling of “I don’t know anyone, I can’t speak the language, I don’t know anything, I don’t trust any of those adults” – and that’s perfectly normal. Young asylum seekers need time and a lot of help to get to the point where they feel ready to talk and then give things a go themselves. Just getting to “stable”the third stage of the Journey of Change that underlies the Star – is a huge accomplishment for these children.

“Just getting to “stable” – the third stage of the Journey of Change that underlies the Star – is a huge accomplishment for these children.”

I love the fact that the Star has one area specifically about immigration with a different Journey of Change that is all about coping with uncertainty and making different plans for different contingencies (known as triple-track planning). And I appreciate how Triangle and its collaborators managed to design it in a way that even if children don’t get the permission to stay in the UK, it’s all about getting them ready for that decision.

It’s about getting children to think, “I need to not get too hung up on the immigration, that’s out of my control. I can only show up when they ask me to show up at the Home Office, but I need to get an education, I need to make friends and I need to think about what my options are in this country, but also be prepared that I may have to return. And I need to think about how I can make the most of this situation while I’m here, and trust the workers to look after me.”

This is something we’re passionate about at Triangle. We’ve done a lot of Stars for children, but I love the fact that the Planning Star is so specialist. All the Stars we design get under the skin of the client group and are trauma-informed, but this one is super trauma-informed. I think people would have forgiven us for not wanting to go down the route of immigration and unaccompanied asylum seeking children – it’s a complex sector, it’s quite legal and confusing – but I like the fact that we did it anyway, for children who will really benefit from it.

One other huge plus – the Planning Star allows people to collate data on asylum-seeking children that captures how they feel when they arrive, what support they accept, what their priorities are, where they’re able to progress, and what areas need more funding. For campaigners and policy-makers that is like gold dust. And if it leads to even better support for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children, that would be truly great.

*****

The Planning Star was published in July 2020. A separate version, for adult refugees, was published at the end of 2020. Both Stars are available to all organisations with a Star licence and training is available for workers and managers. Contact us for more information on info@triangleconsulting.co.uk or +44 (0) 207 272 8765.

Vacancy: Client Services Advisor

Looking for a new challenge? Are you interested in being a part of a social enterprise and with supporting our client organisations to make a measurable difference in the lives of vulnerable service users?

Triangle is seeking a capable client services advisor to support our clients, and provide excellent customer service to assist in responding to pre-sales and post-sales enquiries, provide a first point of contact with organisations and individuals and more.

We’re looking for a pleasant and self-confident customer service professional, preferably with familiarity and experience in the health care and social sectors, who will respond to all client enquiries and advise clients on our products and services. Working closely with your colleagues, you will help clients and prospective clients to make the right decisions about how their frontline services can evidence and support change of service users and ensure organisations have the right licences and training to use the Outcomes Star.

The Client Services Advisor will play a vital role in responding to and managing the growing level of enquiries about the Outcomes Star. You will have great listening skills, able to identify and respond to concerns, queries and issues and provide information to organisations. You will be great at handling enquiries, as well as pinpointing key individuals in the organisations and building rapport and relationships with them. Main tasks will include answering telephone and digital enquiries, and understanding how our clients work, the services that they offer and their needs, as well as the needs of the people that they help. You’ll also work to help them to discover if the Star is relevant for their needs and, if so, which Outcomes Star will best fit with their requirements.  You will also need to use Salesforce and generate quotes, provide account maintenance to existing clients, follow up and continue to build on those relationships.

Ideally, the successful applicant will be based in Hove, although we are open to flexible working arrangements.

Find out more and apply

Visit our Careers page to find out more about us and the role.

*****

You can download the job description and application form from our careers page to see if this is the next step for you. If you’d like an informal conversation about the position, please email miranda@triangleconsulting.co.uk

Making that change: new year, new role

Jim Boreland

Changing jobs during a pandemic, just before Christmas, isn’t usually the best laid plan of mice and men. But for Jim Borland, Triangle’s Implementation Lead (Scotland), the opportunity to work at Triangle was too hard to resist…

“I saw the role of Implementation Lead as an opportunity to do something different and worthwhile, learn new skills and meet new people (albeit virtually), and help support others making big changes in their lives. That in turn would provide me with the motivation to look forward to each working day, instead of looking back with a degree of disappointment.”

When’s the best time to change jobs?

Just before Christmas probably isn’t an ideal time,  especially in the midst of a pandemic. I expect a lot of people would be more inclined towards the status quo and not opening themselves up to any more potential risk, but that’s the time I happened to start working with the team behind the Outcomes Star.

Prior to this, I was in a stable, well-paid job that utilised my skills, with working hours and a flexibility around them that was good for the work / life balance. Nevertheless, everything was very much the same day after day. Looking back, the phrase ‘Ground hog Day’ springs to mind, as each day merged into one, and I was left at the end of it thinking, “What did I actually achieve?” Generally, the answer was “nothing” or “not a lot” and, whilst there was no pressure on me to do any more than I was, I found myself becoming really de-motivated and wanting to feel as if I was contributing more during my working day, rather than just being present. So, something needed to change.

Making that change

When I reflect on the past 40 odd years of my working life, a lot of career changes have happened around Christmas time. The opportunity to move to Triangle was no different in timing, so maybe it was fate telling me to move on and do something different. So that’s what I did!

It was fascinating to me when speaking to former colleagues before I left, that the most common statements said to me were – “I’m really sorry you’re leaving” and “I wish it were me”. I think that speaks volumes and if anything gave me some justification about my decision to move on. 

I saw the role of Implementation Lead as an opportunity to do something different and worthwhile, learn new skills and meet new people (albeit virtually), and help support others making big changes in their lives. That in turn would provide me with the motivation to look forward to each working day, instead of looking back with a degree of disappointment.

Working with Triangle

After I started, the first thing that struck me was how welcoming everyone was and how willing they were to spend time with me to explain about their roles and their experiences (good and challenging) and help me to settle in and feel part of the team. I know that’s generally part of any induction, but for me, this felt very genuine and not just a thing that had to be done. I’ve never worked anywhere else, where everyone from the Directors down to staff on the ground (and everyone in-between) took the time to talk to me and welcome me to my new role.

That meant a lot to me and again, it’s interesting speaking to the other new members of the Triangle team who have felt the same about their own onboarding experience; I think it’s something that everyone should take a great deal of pride in.

As for my role, so far, it’s everything I thought it would be. It’s busy and at times challenging as I get to grips with new working practices and processes, especially the IT whilst working remotely!

But perhaps the biggest difference to how you would normally start a new job, is that this introduction to Triangle, and all the other meetings I’ve had since I started, have taken place remotely. That, is in no way strange due to the circumstances we find ourselves in. However, it does give me the opportunity of meeting people away from the traditional formal ‘face to face’ settings within an office. With our current ways of working, I get to see people in their natural environment, without any ‘professional’ trappings around them.

For me, being able to look past the person to see the art on their wall, what their workspace looks like, what’s out of their window and being able to speak to them when they’re sitting on a couch or at the kitchen table surrounded by their children and partners, rather than across an office table, gives me more of flavour of the ‘real’ person. In my opinion, that can only lead to more honest and open relationships, which in turn enhances the whole of the work experience.

As a result, this ‘positive’ impact of the pandemic, in causing us to change from the traditional working methods, has hopefully been beneficial and given us a better understanding of each other, rather than just a work ‘image’ of a colleague.

So, as I finish looking back over my first few months in my new job, I can honestly say I’m glad I made the move. It’s been a good start and provides a solid base from which I can build on.

*****

Sign up to our newsletter to get updates on Triangle, news on Outcomes Stars and new resources and more. Contact us to speak to Jim or anyone else on the team, or if you would like any more information.

New Star resource for Young Carers – flashcards for the Carers Star

Sara Burns is one of the founding directors of Triangle and leads on the development of new Outcomes Stars. Here she explains why these new flashcards were needed and how they can help

So far, I have always managed to be in the room when we start developing a new Star. There is something of the texture, feel or nuance of a client group and sector that is communicated by more than words. One day I may have to do that on a screen. While I assume that I’ll find a way, I’d still rather not. I vividly remember standing in workshops many years ago when developing the Carers Star. We collaborated with the Carers Trust and they involved their members – mostly small, local services supporting those caring for a family member or friend. Many in the room were themselves carers or had been in the past, and it was invaluable to hear, imbibe and understand their experience. Although we always carry out a thorough literature review, much of what shapes the Stars, and makes them speak to people, is that deep, ‘bottom up’ listening to workers, service users and others.

People asked for resources tailored to young carers

Ideally, each version of the Star serves a broad sector and range of people or needs and that was our aim with the Carer’s Star. Nevertheless, most people accessing services are older adults, caring for elderly relatives, and the Star is what fits best for them. However, since we published the Carers Star, there have been requests from workers who support young carers for tools tailored to them. In this instance, young carers referring to children and young people caring for a relative at home. This came to a head when I was in Australia in early 2020. I was attending an event for the Australian government Carers Gateway roll-out the Carers Star to all services across Australia. Many services in the sector support young carers too and we agreed to develop flashcards to make the Carers Star friendlier and speak more directly to these service users as well.

Young carers can be both mature and vulnerable

Estimates of the number of young carers in the UK range from 230,000 – 700,000. Those accessing services are a fraction of the total: most are not recognised as needing support and don’t come forward due to stigma, not knowing help is out there or afraid of shaming or being taken away from their family. They are interesting and often impressive. The added responsibility can make young carers mature beyond their years and many express pride at being able to help their family members. Yet as a group they are more vulnerable than others, struggling with education, financially poor and more likely to have health difficulties. Research indicates that they worry a lot – about the health or behaviour of the person they care for, their own well-being, who will do the caring in the future, or about being late and unable to meet the demands of education. They can be isolated, with little in common with their peers.

We created flashcards with words and images relevant for young carers

Flashcards offer an accessible, visual extra resource and are already available for many versions of the Star. To develop flashcards for young carers, we carried out interviews and asked workers to consult with the young carers they supported. We also did a literature review to understand more about the specific needs and priorities for young carers. We produced draft flashcards and asked for collaboration to try these out with young people and gather feedback.

We published the new flashcards for young carers in March 2021, with areas of the Carers Star specifically focused on the aspect most relevant to young people. ‘Work and volunteering’ on the Star is represented by school and education in the flashcards. ‘Finances’ is renamed to ‘money’ and highlights worry about family finances rather than budgeting or banks. ‘Time to yourself’ features football and other leisure activities more relevant to children and young people.

We made changes to the Journey of Change underpinning the Star. Some young carers were alarmed by wording which implied that they needed to be independent of support by the top of the scales and indeed this is not appropriate for children and young people, so we removed it. They also found the end point of ‘as good as it can be’ rather depressing, so that was also changed in the flashcards to ‘things are okay’. The start part point of ‘cause for concern’ also triggered anxiety, so we shortened it to a more neutral ‘concerns’. There were other changes too, but this gives a flavour.

The final version of the flashcards for young carers tested well and can be used flexibly by workers to initiate and support a conversation about the seven Carers Star areas that is much more appropriate for children and young people. For consistency, we have also produced flashcards for the Carers Star for the core audience of adult carers. Both sets of flashcards can be downloaded by clients from their Star Online portal.

*****

The Carers Star is an Outcomes Star for use with people caring for others, it is designed to help organisations and the carers that they support.  It is one of four main Stars which can be used across the adult care sector, other Stars include the Independent Living Star, Life Star or the Older Person’s Star. Organisations that work with young carers may find that My Star or other Stars designed for the family and children sector may be more suitable for working with young people, children and carers under 18. For more information on the flashcards or the Carers Star and Stars for the adult care sector, please contact us.