There are an estimated 100,000 young carers in Scotland, all of whom do a remarkable job caring for the needs of their loved ones.
Many of these young people are selflessly helping others without a thought for themselves.
AS a young adult carer and a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament, I am writing to raise awareness of the Scottish Youth Parliament’s recently published research report, ‘A Costly Youth: The Impact of Caring on Young People in Scotland,’ which highlights the financial pressures young carers and young adult carers face, and the impact these pressures have on their wellbeing and access to opportunities for the future.
Young carers face a constant battle with multi-tasking – it is a constant struggle for many to make ends meet. The Scottish Youth Parliament’s research highlights that many young carers and young adult carers are struggling to focus on studying, achieving the best opportunities and qualifications, whilst maintaining a caring role. 80.36% of the young people who participated in the research believe their caring responsibilities have affected their ability to study enough and 80.36% have considered dropping out of their course.
A strong majority of respondents revealed they are anxious about their financial situation. When asked if they experienced stress or worry due to their financial situation, 74.21% of the young carers answered that they did. Many young carers feel that their financial situation dictates that a part-time job must be a priority. Alongside caring duties there is simply not enough time for young carers to financially make ends meet and simultaneously prioritise education and other opportunities.
The Scottish Youth Parliament and other organisations have estimated that the Scottish Government saves approximately £1.6 billion a year as a result of the 100,000 unpaid young carers, who provide an invaluable service to their families and society.
From my own personal experience, I understand how difficult it can be to balance your caring responsibilities, your responsibilities to someone you love, and your responsibilities to yourself.
I have cared for my younger brother, Ryan, from a very young age. I love what I do, and I wouldn’t change it for the world but I have always had to balance this with school and college, part-time work, and my own life. It can often be a real struggle.
Young carers and young adult carers in Scotland provide an invaluable service to their families, communities, and their country. We don’t want praise, or special treatment. We simply want the support to be able to fulfil our own potential and provide the care for the people we love.
I hope the findings of this report will prompt wider discussions with Government, local authorities, and the wider third sector about how we address these issues together.
Lauren King is a young carer and member of the Scottish Youth Parliament