Lauren King: Carers recognition is well overdue

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As a young person who has a significant caring role, I am very aware how challenging it can be to manage your day-to-day duties while fulfilling your role as a carer and striving to achieve your full potential. I am delighted that the Scottish Youth Parliament has chosen to campaign for young carers.

The Youth Parliament is the democratically elected voice of Scotland’s young people. We are determined to campaign on the issues which matter most to our voters.

I have to balance caring, attending school, and doing part-time work to make ends meet. Free time is very limited and sometimes I am not able to study as much as I’d like or pursue beneficial opportunities due to paid work and care. Carers always have to compromise.

Survey work published by the Scottish Government indicates that at least one in ten young people in Scotland has a caring role. In March 2013, the Membership of the Scottish Youth Parliament (MSYPs) overwhelmingly supported the petition I submitted to the Scottish Parliament to raise the issue of the financial hardship faced by young carers. MSYPs have selected it as our national campaign 2014 at our October national sitting.

The Youth Parliament and other organisations have estimated that the Scottish Government saves approximately £1.6 billion as a result of the 100,000 unpaid young carers. They should not have to face hardship. It is unfair that many of these young people are compromising their education and many opportunities available to others to be able to afford necessities.

I believe the most challenging aspect for many young carers is multi-tasking. Many young people are trying to focus on studying, achieving the best opportunities and qualifications, while maintaining a caring role.

It is extremely difficult when your financial situation dictates that a part-time job must be your priority. Alongside caring duties there is simply not enough time to make ends meet and prioritise education and other opportunities.

The campaign will be officially launched today and our MSYPs will be campaigning throughout Scotland.

I would like to encourage everyone to help raise awareness and lend their support to this campaign. By generating as widespread support as possible, we can work together and ensure we make a real difference for Scotland’s young carers.

I hope I can count on your support.

• Lauren King is a Member of the Scottish Youth Parliament