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Scottish Young Carers hold a virtual festival

By Rachael Glennie

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The Scottish Young Carers Festival has sadly been cancelled this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Scottish Young Carers alternative festival
Scottish Young Carers alternative festival

2020 would have been the Festival’s 13th year, providing young carers with a much needed break from their caring responsibilities.

Young Carers provide unpaid care for a family member or a friend, who is ill, frail, disabled or has mental health or addiction problems.

The Festival provided the opportunity for young carers to meet other young people in similar situations, share new experiences and of course, have fun.

The event also provided 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.

Carers Trust Scotland and the Scottish Government have been working with young carers and their services to plan a new kind of Festival this year.

Scottish Government funding is providing over £100,000 for Carers Trust Scotland to administer a small-grant scheme to eligible young carer services.

These services will be able to apply for funding to provide fun and respite to the young carers they support.

The outcomes of this scheme are broad to ensure that services can take a local, tailor-made approach in supporting their young people and provide meaningful respite in a safe way.

Furthermore, Carers Trust Scotland will bring Festival fun to young people through the first ever virtual Festival, “Best of the Fest!” .

On Wednesday, August 5 to Friday 7 there will be the opportunity for young carers to take part in dozens of activities and events including; mindfullness, yoga, magic shows, paint a-longs and live music.

Resources will also be shared on our website for young people to access at any time after the virtual Festival has taken place.

Further details can be found online at https://carers.org/scottish-young-carers-festival/life-in-lockdown

The traditional marketplace at the Festival, which invites organisations to promote their services and resources to young carers and their services, will also be found online this year.

Organisations such as Young Scot and the Scottish Youth Parliament will host live workshops for young carers and youth workers to find out more about the opportunities available.

This year’s alternative Scottish Young Carers Festival takes place during a challenging time for many young carers.

A new Carers Trust Scotland survey shows the pandemic’s dramatic impact on the wider wellbeing of young carers in Scotland.

Meaningful respite for these young people is more important than ever, with 42 per cent of young adult carers in Scotland stating they are unable to take a break from caring as a result of Coronavirus.

Furthermore, 69 per cent of young carers and 76 per cent of young adult carers in Scotland who responded to the survey felt less able to stay in touch with friends since coronavirus.

74 per cent of young carers and 73 per cent of young adult carers in Scotland also said they are feeling less connected to others since coronavirus.

The results point to a steep decline in the mental health and wellbeing of young people across Scotland who provide unpaid care for family members or friends.

These results highlight the need for continued support to young carers and the opportunity for meaningful respite and engagement opportunities throughout the year.

Despite the cancellation of our Scottish Young Carers Festival, the small-grant scheme and online activities aim to provide fun and respite to these young people in alternative, safe ways.

Minister for Public Health, Joe FitzPatrick said:“Young carers make a vitally important contribution to our society.

"Often though, because of their responsibilities, they haven’t got the same amount of free time and opportunities as their peers.

Although the Festival cannot take place this year, I hope young carers across the country will be able to benefit from the Scottish Government funded small grant scheme which will enable local services to provide them with some much deserved respite and extra support.”

Paul Traynor, Policy and External Affairs Manager of Carers Trust Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be working with Scottish Government to deliver these new kind of Festival activities for young carers across Scotland for 2020.

"The pandemic has been difficult for a lot of young carers and many have reported taking on additional caring responsibilities, feeling isolated, and feeling disconnected to their friends and wider communities.

"Although some young carers may be disappointed that the annual Scottish Young Carers Festival event has been cancelled, the small-grant scheme provides new opportunities for local young carer services to plan and deliver activities to ensure young carers still have an opportunity to get a break from caring and have fun.

"We also hope that our ‘Best of the Fest’ virtual events will provide that Festival feeling that gives young carers the opportunity to be children and young people first.”

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