Renfrewshire Young Carers Project works with and on behalf of young carers throughout Renfrewshire. The project started in 1999 and is designed to provide much needed support to young people from 8 years old to 18, who are faced with caring responsibilities from a very young age.
Many people don’t identify themselves as carers because they see it as a part of their lives. With young people it is even harder because they often don’t have needed life experience and knowledge to identify themselves and seek support.
A young carer is someone under 18 who helps look after someone in their family, or a friend, who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol.
They may be carrying out
- Practical tasks, such as cooking, housework and shopping.
- Physical care, such as helping someone out of bed.
- Emotional support, such as talking to someone who is distressed.
- Personal care, such as helping someone dress.
- Managing the family budget and collecting prescriptions.
- Helping to give medicine.
- Helping someone communicate.
- Looking after brothers and sisters.
If a young person thinks he or she is a young carer they should speak to their parents, home link worker, guidance teacher, youth worker, head teacher or social worker who will either be able to provide them with the support they may need or refer them onto the Carers Centre Young Carers project or other appropriate organisations While professional can refer to the project it is also possible fro young carers to refer themselves.
Renfrewshire Carers Centre offers support groups, activities and events specifically for the Young Carers in Renfrewshire. Young people benefit from attending such activities by gaining confidence, making new friends, gaining new knowledge and most importantly they don’t feel alone.
Shannon (age 16) told us: “My mum suffers from poor mental health. It’s hard to juggle all her stuff and also make time for me and my school work. I can feel guilty for wanting to have fun or go out with my friends.”
Another young carer Hannah (age 11) commented: “I help my brother Steven, he is Autistic. I put his PJs on; I play wrestling with him and get him to sleep. I help my mum make the breakfast and I wash the dishes. I tidy up. I like the Young Carers Group because it gives me time away from my brother.”
Renfrewshire Young Carers Project is just coming to the end of our summer programme, where 84 young carers were invited along to Heads of Ayr Farm Park, Blair Drummond Safari Park and Edinburgh Dungeons.
The aim of the summer trips is to give young carers a chance to get a respite break, be a child and have fun. Pauline, Young Carers Development Worker told us: “Young carers give so much time and attention to the person they care for, it is a privilege to be able to offer some summer trips in recognition for their caring role”
Also, 11 young carers were invited along to the Scottish Young Carers festival which ran from Tuesday the 2nd – 6th of August .Organised by Carers Trust in Scotland, the Festival, which is funded by the Scottish Government, takes place every year and is held at the Broomlee Outdoor Centre in West Linton. The festival provides some much needed respite for nearly 700 young carers across Scotland and also gives attendees a direct platform in influencing vital services, through question and answer sessions with MSPs, councillors and health, education and council officials.
The young carers have now come together with some of our young adult carers to a Forum which allows the young people to work in partnership with Renfrewshire Council Children’s Services Department and influence the services and supports that are out there for young carers. The forum has also been busy campaigning for free travel for Carers and has just completed a film to highlight the need for this.
Amanda Macdonald our Forum Secretary and a young adult carer has additionally made a petition, in her petition Amanda explains “That often carers have decided between the simple and essential things in life such as being able to afford to eat, or accessing vital support services they need to cope with their caring role”.
The forum recently met with Mhairi Black MP to let her know the issues that young carers & young adult carers face. Mhairi was a great inspiration to our young people who want to make a change.
If you are interested in attending any of the events, groups and activities please contact Pauline, Young Carers Development Worker, on 0141 887 3643 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For full information about the courses please visit Renfrewshire Carers Website: www.renfrewshirecarers.org.uk