As the Commonwealth Games gets well underway, research revealed today by Carers Trust Scotland shows that the nation’s young carers are missing out on opportunities to exercise because of their caring responsibilities, with over half (53%) saying they would exercise more if they didn’t have a caring role.

The survey, which investigated the eating and exercise habits of 184 young carers aged 5-18, also found that:

  • Three in four young carers have responsibility for food shopping and cooking the family meals
  • Less than half (38%) cook meals from scratch, with one in five saying that they weren’t sure if the meals they were eating were healthy
  • Only 9% ate the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day with 60% eating 0-2 portions
  • The vast majority (82%) said that they enjoyed sport and exercise with 40% stating it made them feel less stressed and worried
  • Over half (57%) said that having a free gym membership would help them to exercise more.

The importance of physical activity will play a key role in this year’s Scottish Young Carers Festival, which is taking place during the Commonwealth Games on 29-31 July. Over 700 young carers from all over Scotland will be coming together to get a much-needed break from their caring duties as well as the opportunity to meet other young people in similar situations. For many of them, the Festival is the only break they will have all year.

Organised by Carers Trust Scotland, the Festival takes place in summer every year and is held at the Broomlee Outdoor Centre in West Linton. Activities at the Festival include a Festival’s Got Talent show, a football skills zone, dance workshops, a zombie science school, silent disco, workshops on animation, dj-ing and stage make-up and dozens of other activities.

On the final day of the Festival, which is funded by the Scottish Government, they will be joined by the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing, Alex Neil MSP. Other guests coming along on Thursday will include MSPs, councillors and health, education and council officials. The young carers will get the chance to speak to the guests and tell them what life is like as a young carer and how vital it is that services support them and continue to fund young carers groups.

Florence Burke, Director of Carers Trust Scotland, said:

“The physical and mental wellbeing of Scotland’s young carers is vitally important – for them and for the people they care for. There is a lot of positive work taking place in young carers' services across the country and the Scottish Young Carers Festival provides us with a great opportunity to reinforce messages on making healthy choices.

“First and foremost, the Festival is about having fun and getting a break from their responsibilities at home. It is also a brilliant way of bringing young carers’ issues to the fore and we’re delighted that so many young carers from across Scotland will be a part of it this year.”