Over 400 young carers from across Scotland will come together at the Scottish Young Carers Festival which takes place between 31 July - 2 August.

Organised by Carers Trust Scotland, it provides a national celebration for young carers to share their experiences, the impact that caring has on them and to suggest changes that could make their lives better. An equally vital aspect of the Scottish Young Carers Festival is to provide young carers with a much needed break from their caring responsibilities, it also gives them an opportunity to meet other young people in similar situations, share new experiences and of course have fun. 

There will be the opportunity for young carers to take part in dozens of activities throughout the festival including; circus skills, inflatables, abseiling, art workshops and relaxation sessions. There is also a full programme of entertainment in the evening including a campfire, gaming room, discos and a quiz.

This years Scottish Young Carers Festival takes place against a busy time of positive changes for young carers in Scotland. Already this year we have seen the launch of non-cash entitlements for young carers being introduced through the Young Scot National Entitlement Card and in the autumn the Scottish Government will launch the Young Carer Grant, the first of its kind in the UK. 

Whilst these are exciting new developments young carers are already benefiting from additional rights that are available through the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016, which aims to improve support and recognition of unpaid carers in Scotland. Part of this is the innovative Young Carer Statement, a personalised support plan through which needs are assessed and monitored and support is managed. The Young Carer Statement is intended to ensure that children and young people are protected from undertaking caring responsibilities and tasks which are inappropriate, having regards to their age and maturity. 

However it has become clear through recent survey work by Carers Trust Scotland that not all young carers are yet aware of the support that they are entitled to. The survey, which reached 114 young carers aged 5-18 found that 15% have a Young Carers Statement currently. This highlights the need for services and public bodies to work together to ensure that all young carers in Scotland know how to access all the support that is available to them. Furthermore, 97% of young carers said that young carer support services are important but 41% said that there needs to be more support available. The majority of the young carers surveyed said that they want to be more respected and listened to by adults who make decisions that affect them, their families, their local neighbourhoods and by politicians. 

Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing Joe FitzPatrick said:

“I am delighted to be attending the twelfth Scottish Young Carers Festival. These young people should be an inspiration to us all and this festival provides a valuable forum for them to speak with decision makers about what matters to them.  

“The recent findings from the Carers Trust survey show why it is so important that we fund this event and their work. What the Carers Trust do is vital to raise awareness so young carers can access the range of support that is available to them. The Trust’s network supporting local young carer services is also a much needed and valuable service.

“I am very much looking forward to meeting young carers from these services across Scotland at the Festival. I hope they gain as much as they can from the many interesting and varied events – as well as having a good time.”

Louise Morgan, Director of Carers Trust Scotland, said: 

“We are delighted to be hosting the twelfth Scottish Young Carers Festival. Thousands of young carers over the years have benefited from this opportunity to have a break from caring, have fun, have their voices heard and be a child or young person first and foremost. The Festival is also an opportunity to raise awareness of young carers’ rights and the support available.

“Being a young carer is something to be proud of. We want to reinforce that message and increase awareness about young carers in Scotland so that these incredible young people get the support they need and have a fairer chance to reach their full potential in all areas of their lives.”

On the second day of the Scottish Young Carers Festival, which is funded by the Scottish Government, they will be joined by Joe FitzPatrick MSP, Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing. Other guests coming along on Thursday will include Scottish Government Ministers, MSPs, councillors and health, education and council officials. Over its twelve-year history, the responses from consultation activities have influenced the development and implementation of national strategy, policy and guidance to improve outcomes for young carers locally and Scotland-wide.

Ends

Further information and interviews: 
Paul Traynor, Policy and External Affairs Manager for Carers Trust Scotland, Tel: 07824 542 964 or email: ptraynor@carers.org

Notes to Editors:
The Scottish Young Carers Festival is organised by Carers Trust Scotland, with the support of Action for Children, Barnardo’s, Carers Scotland, Children 1st, the Scottish Young Carers Services Alliance and Shared Care Scotland. It is funded by the Scottish Government. For more information about the Scottish Young Carers Festival, please visit: https://carers.org/scottish-young-carers-festival 

Carers Trust Scotland is the largest provider of comprehensive carers support services in Scotland. We reach around 30,000 adult carers and 2,400 young carers from all groups and communities, through a unique network of independent carers centres and young carers services throughout Scotland. We work with these centres to improve support, services and recognition for carers in communities across Scotland.

The Carers (Scotland) Act 2016 now gives all young carers in Scotland a right to a Young Carer Statement, which is an assessment of their own needs, no matter how much caring they do. This means that it is the responsibility of health boards and local authorities to ensure they are identifying and supporting young carers. When a young carer is identified by practitioners, whether in the community or acute settings, they must be offered a Young Carer Statement. If they accept the offer the responsible authority must prepare a Young Carer Statement. They must also prepare a Young Carer Statement for anyone who meets the definition of young carer if the young carer requests one. The Act specifies there must be certain things included in support planning for carers, such as emergency and future planning, the carer’s personal outcomes, how much care the carer is willing and able to provide, and whether any support could include a break from caring. Local authorities must set local eligibility criteria to determine at what level unpaid carers are eligible for support. When carers are assessed as meeting these criteria for support, the local authority must provide support to them to meet the eligible needs.

Facts about young carers:[1]
Scottish Government estimate that there are 44,000 young carers in Scotland aged under 18 (Scottish Government, 2015). However extensive survey work by young carers services and Carers Trust Scotland show that 1 in 10 children in a class has a caring role.

Young carers are children and young people who look after someone, usually a family member who has an illness, a disability, or is affected by mental ill-health or substance misuse. www.carers.org   

Young carers often take on practical and/or emotional caring responsibilities that would normally be expected of an adult. 

Further data from the survey:

  • A total of 114 young carers responded to the survey, which was live over June  and closed on Monday 15 July 2019.
  • 27 respondents were aged 5 -12 years old and 87 respondents were aged 13-18 years old.
  • 35 identified as male, 70 identified as female, 2 identified as transgender, 7 preferred not to list their gender identity.
  • 68% provided unpaid care for one person, 22% provided unpaid care for two people and 10% provided unpaid care for three or more people.
  • The majority were either providing care for their mum or their sibling.
  • 51% were not aware of their rights as a young carer in general. 
  • 58% had not heard about the Carers (Scotland) Act 2016.
  • 54% had not heard about the Young Carer Statement before.
  • Just 5% rated their knowledge of the Young Carers Statement as ‘excellent’ and 21% rated their knowledge as ‘good’.
  • 20% had been offered a Young Carer Statement, 34% have not been offered a Young Carer Statement and 46% are unsure if they have been offered a Young Carer Statement.
  • 85% of those surveyed do not have a Young Carer Statement.
  • The majority (65%) of young carers listed that they go to their Young Carers Service or Carers Centre mainly for support; followed by family (43%), school (31%), friends (30%), Social Work (8%), other youth service (6%) and Doctor/Nurse (2%).
  • 59% said there are not enough support services for young carers.
  • 97% believe that support services for young carers are important.
  • Only around half of those surveyed think that professionals who provide services to their cared for person (such as doctors, nurses, teachers and social workers) see them as having a caring role.
  • 61% don’t feel respected or listened to by adults who make decisions that affect them, their families, their local neighbourhoods and by politicians.
  • When asked “As a young carer what support would you like to help you with your caring role and to help you have a life outside of caring?” some responses received include: 
    • “Someone to talk to about my thoughts and feelings about being a young carer. Maybe some fun time away from my brother.”
    • “More support for my brother, specifically to allow my mum to spend more time with me. She is working now and we don't have enough time for just us.”
    • “School and teachers to help me. To understand that my family and I are judged by others. Sometimes it gets too much. We are isolated and excluded.”
    • “More choices, more funding for services, able to have family time and more help at school.”
    • “Better input from social work and shorter time frames for medical assessments for the people we care for.”
  • When asked “Is there anything else that you want to tell us about what it's like to be a young carer today in Scotland?” some responses received include: 
    • “It is hard. I am expected to be more grown up than I am/ but yet not old enough to receive support.”
    • “I am beginning to realise how my family life may have been different. It is hard with my mum not being able to do more things with just me.”
    • “It’s a full time round the clock job which is hard when focusing on exams and finding time for a job.”
    • “I’m sure there’s help out there. Just nobody has told me about it!”
    • “No one cares really.”
    • “A lot of people don’t know what a young carer is unless there is one in the family and even so some families don’t realise that there is one in their family or that they are one.”
    • “It can be hard but also can be beneficial in some ways as it can give you some life skills etc. But also can effect mental health also. And “friends” may not understand why you can’t do certain things like go out because of your caring role and they may use it against you and fall out with you.”
    • “We need funding it’s like we have been forgot about.”
    • “Although things are improving by introducing things such as Young Carer Grant, there needs to be more done as there needs to be a better awareness.”
    • “From my own experience: it’s very mentally and physically hard. There are some positive parts I like about this job but most of it is very draining and frustrating. For any young person looking after children with severe autism is extremely tough for them and me. It sometimes interferes with my studies, but mainly my social life and it has an impact on my mental health. It gets very lonely, and depressing. I sometimes wish it didn’t have to be this way, I feel like I’m living a very abnormal life from most teenagers and I don’t get the advantage I want from being one as I feel like I’m living under a rock. Most importantly whenever I try to explain this to my friends they don’t seem to empathise and understand me they think it’s just how it’s meant to be... but everyday it’s a constant battle. It feels unfair. I want to do something to push this message out to all schools.”

Note:  The data was collected through Survey Monkey. The survey was promoted on social media channels but was also sent out directly to carer centres and young carer services in Scotland to encourage young carers they support to complete. Therefore we assume that the majority of the young carers who completed this survey are already linked to existing carer support services. The survey was completed anonymously and we did not ask for any personal information other than the local authority they lived in. The statistics are reflective of the resultant sample only and therefore these findings are not assumed as universal claims, but they are suggestive of the experience of young carers in Scotland.