Scottish YC Festival gives young carers the chance to take part in activities they often miss out on

Scottish Young Carers Festival 2012So, young carers don’t get as much free time as children and young people who don’t have a caring role… no surprises there.

Ahead of the 2012 Scottish Young Carers Festival which took place on 17, 18 and 19 August, we and the Scottish Young Carers Services Alliance commissioned research by Ipsos MORI Scotland comparing young carers’ leisure time with the Schools Adolescent Lifestyle and Substance Use Survey (SALSUS).

The results demonstrated substantial differences between the lives of young carers and other children and young people. From our survey, we found out that 60% of young carers were caring for more than 20 hours a week and missing out on time with their friends, taking part in sports and other leisure activities – read the press release here.

We and the Scottish Young Carers Services Alliance have been running the festival, which is funded by the Scottish Government, since 2008. For years, young carers have been saying to us – we want the festival to last for more than one night (and funnily enough, lots of them ask for it to run for a week…), so thanks to increased Government funding this year we were able to extend it to two nights.

There is no doubt the festival takes a lot of hard work. Pre-festival, we visit young carers’ groups across Scotland and ask them; what do you want to see at this year’s young carers festival? First of all, there’s the ‘nice stuff’ – the five-aside football, the music workshops and cupcake decorating lessons – all the activities young carers may not get the opportunity to try or do regularly in their day-to-day lives.

Secondly, the chance to take a break from caring and spend a few days being normal children and young people shouldn’t be underestimated. Again, feedback from previous festivals has taught us that those coming along really relish meeting up with others who are in the same situation. As one young carer puts it, “I don’t need to explain my situation to them”.

A crucial part of the festival is the chance to take a temperature check on the services and policies that affect young carers.

The national strategy for young carers is two years old. At the festival, we ask young carers questions designed to find out how the good intentions of the survey are working on the ground. We invite ministers, politicians and other people who make decisions about services and policies to come to the festival and speak with young carers. We organise a question and answer session and those attending the festival aren’t shy about putting their points across and stating opinions, which makes the whole exercise incredibly worthwhile.

Festivals can be big business these days. Those attending can expect to pay out lots of money for the privilege of seeing big bands and camping in a muddy field. Our wee festival is very cheap and cheerful, but nevertheless, still viewed as the highlight of the calendar for Scotland’s young carers who come from as far afield as Orkney and the Scottish Borders and everywhere in between. The atmosphere is incredible and the smiling, happy faces a real reward.

Long may the Scottish Young Carers Festival continue!

August 29, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment