However, being part of the national Young Adult Carer Voice forum that is supported and coordinated by Carers Trust Scotland, means that I have had an amazing week of opportunities.
It started at the Young Adult Carer Showcase and Learning Exchange, which took place at the Glasgow Science Centre on Tuesday 26 January and marked one year on since Time to Be Heard for Young Adult Carers in Scotland campaign initiative was launched. Alongside other Young Adult Carer Voice members, I had the chance to share my personal testimony on life as a carer; it’s never easy to be vulnerable to a room full of strangers but for me it was a vital part of the day that shows the reality of what being a young adult carer can be like. I also spoke about why I think the Time to be Heard for Young Adult Carers campaign initiative is important. I felt that it was my chance to lay down the gauntlet to everyone in the room and inspire them to get involved in the campaign.
At the Showcase and Learning Exchange we heard from local young adult carer projects from across Scotland, a keynote speech was delivered by Cara Hilton MSP (Shadow Minister for Children and Young People) and there was also a presentation from SAAS (Student Awards Agency for Scotland) on the different kinds of funding available as a student. However currently in Scotland there is no specific student carer grant or bursary and very few universities have a student carer policy in place. Most matriculation forms are missing the key question about being a student carer which would lead to better identification and support of young adult carers in higher education.
On Thursday 28 January, I then had the privilege of being part of the Scottish contingent attending the launch of the Time to be Heard for Young Adult Carers campaign initiative in Northern Ireland, at Stormont. Despite the early start I was excited to be heading to Northern Ireland for the first time and especially getting to visit Stormont. As a politics student it was amazing to hear not only about the country’s rich political history but the history of the building itself.
On the same day as the launch it was also Young Carer Awareness Day, which meant not just in Northern Ireland but also across the UK, people were paying attention. For our participation in the event, we presented on the progress Time to be Heard for Young Adult Carers in Scotland has made and the impact of the campaign one year on. At the Northern Ireland launch we also got the opportunity to see the new inspirational campaign film from Time to be Heard for Young Adult Carers Northern Ireland.
After an incredible week where the spotlight was firmly on young adult carers, I don’t want us to accept being invisible or forgotten about anymore. Time to be Heard is our chance to unite our voices together as one, all calling for the same thing; identification, support and recognition.
Ailsa Tweedie, 25 years old, is a young adult carer from North Lanarkshire who cares for her mum.