As a young person in Scotland, you may be facing a challenge that some people your age may not understand – being a young carer.
Here, we explore what being a young carer means, how it can affect your learning and support for young carers in Scotland.
What is a Young Carer?
A young carer is a young person under 18 who takes care of someone (often a family member) who is ill, disabled, has mental health issues and/or an addiction.
A young person aged 16-25 who takes care of someone may also be referred to as a young adult carer.
It is estimated that 1 in 5 children and young people in Scotland are young carers.
This can be a big responsibility, and it can sometimes be difficult to balance your caring duties with school and other activities.
If you are a young carer you might need to do a lot of things that others don’t.
For example young carers might have to help out by:
Cooking and preparing meals
Cleaning and tidying
Helping someone get dressed
Helping someone with personal care
Helping someone get around
Looking after younger brothers and sisters
Providing emotional support
Being responsible for managing someone’s medicine
Being responsible for looking after money
…and any other things that the person they care for needs help with.
All of these responsibilities mean that many young carers have a lot less free time than other people their own age. This may mean that they don’t get to see their friends as often as they like or have time to themselves to relax or participate in hobbies.
Young Carers and learning
Being a young carer can also make it difficult to fully focus on your learning.
If you have caring responsibilities, you may find it difficult to find time to study at home and do homework.
You might also sometimes find it harder to concentrate in class because you feel tired. Many young carers need to care for people before they go to school. This could involve having to get up extra early, meaning you get less sleep.
Your caring responsibilities could even mean that you miss school from time to time.
All of these things are reasons why it is so important to tell your school if you are caring for someone.
Your school should be able to help you and put things in place to support your learning.
If you have caring responsibilities, it’s important to let your school know so that they can provide you with the support you need.
This can be done by talking to a class teacher or your school guidance teacher, who can then help you access the necessary resources and support. Your school should work with you to help create a support plan that is flexible and accommodates your caring duties.
Want to find out more from Lauren – who is a young carer – about her experiences of support at school?
If you are a young carer it is important to know that you’re not alone.
In fact, there are over 44,000 young carers in Scotland, and there are organisations in Scotland that are there to support young carers.
The national organisation is called Carers Trust Scotland. There are also lots of local support groups across Scotland who have amazing young carers support workers. They organise fun activities for young carers as well as emotional support and advice.
Carers Trust Scotland provides information and resources for young carers. You can also find your local carer support service by entering your town or post code.
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