Caring responsibilities can prevent young carers from revelling in their childhood. However, one festival celebrates the dedicated contribution young carers provide in society. We learn more about the annual Scottish Young Carers Festival.
Being an unpaid carer is an important role within the home and for your loved one. Young carers across Scotland play a vital part in the support of family members, but it can come at a price.
Growing up is a rollercoaster of emotions, activities, socialising and education. For young carers, this is heightened with the responsibilities that many other young people may not experience in their daily lives.
From running errands, dispensing medication, attending doctor’s appointments and more, young carers are called to mature earlier.
“The work we do in partnership with young carers services estimate the reality to be closer to 100,000 young carers who have some caring responsibilities,” explains Paul Traynor, policy and external affairs manager at Carers Trust Scotland.
“This is not necessarily always as the primary carer, they may be part of a network of unpaid carers in the home.
“Some young carers can feel like they’re on their own, and, you really do need to know where to go for support,” Paul continues.
However, with the Scottish Young Carers Festival, young carers can not only have respite, there is also an opportunity to influence future government policy.
During the festival, young carers can get involved with relaxation on areas for wellbeing and mediation to circus skills, all the way to interacting with MSPs and getting involved with consultations: young carers are making a change.
Paul enthuses: “Within the consultation area, young carers can really feed into the research and decision making, which then helps us as a national organisation focus our efforts in influencing future policy.”
With MSPs including John Swinney and a recorded message from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon planned for the 400 young carers set to a end this year’s festival, change is imminent.
Alongside making a difference, young carers have the chance to relax from their responsibilities and come together with other young people with the same lived experience.
With many young people excited for the summer break, young carers can see their services and groups take a break over the summer time. That can leave the thousands of known young carers with nothing to look forward to until school commences.
The Scottish Young Carers Festival– now in its 12th year – changes this. Over three days, young carers can act like young people again and connect with their peers – who know what they’re going through. It is an invaluable tool for all young carers, and a chance to say thank you for their work.