Coming together to have fun, meet new people and enjoy time away from caring responsibilities – a time to be a child or young person – is as important for young carers today as it was when the Scottish Young Carers Festival began in 2007.
A long year of planning activity is coming to a close. Visits to young carers services to find out what they look forward to most at the Scottish Young Carers Festival are complete. And months of planning have resulted in a festival that’s beginning to take shape. The site is ready for our happy campers - and between ice cream, abseiling and visiting exotic animals, there are some really exciting activities for everyone to take part in.
Fun is perhaps one of the most important ingredients in the mix at the Scottish Young Carers Festival. But for many of the young people who attend, the chance to make their voice heard is just as important a factor. To help make this happen, we have created The Consultation Space – a warm and welcoming area within the festival. It’s a space where young people can come to consider questions and give their thoughts and opinions. Creating this sort of open dialogue will help us understand not only what are the most important issues for young carers, but also how their lives are impacted by these issues. Being able to answer anonymously will allow young people the freedom to share their personal opinions. It also allows young people the time and space to think through their answers, thereby providing greater insight and understanding for practitioners and decision makers.
For those young people that enjoy the immediacy of putting their questions direct to decision makers, there is the opportunity to meet key Scottish Government Ministers, MSPs as well as staff from local government, education, health and social work. The political speed chat event will allow young people to speak with a range of key individuals with the power to make changes to their everyday lives.
This year, another window into the experience of young carers will be provided through the Media Ambassador team. The team is made up of six young carers working closely with Media Education, an organisation that helps people to share their experiences through radio and video production. The Media Ambassador Team have had their camera and interview training and are ready to capture footage of the festival as well as the experiences of their peers. Last year, the Media Ambassador team presented their film at the Carers Parliament, and we are optimistic that this year will provide just as many opportunities for them to show all their great work during the festival.
The Scottish Young Carer Festival is first and foremost about excitement and freedom, and an event where young people enjoy a deserved break away from caring responsibilities. But it is also an important opportunity for young people to raise their voices, putting accessible, appropriate and person-centred consultation at the heart of the three days.
Hannah Martin, Youth Engagement Officer, Carers Trust Scotland