More than 450 young carers expected at free festival

New figures have shown almost 90 per cent of Scots young carers feel that their schools and GPs do nothing to support them – and that’s despite the fact that Scotland’s carers and young carers save the public purse more than £7.6 billion a year.

So as a big thank you, The Princess Royal Trust for Carers is organising a free festival on 21 and 22 August at the Broomlee Outdoor Centre, West Linton, to give them a chance to let their hair down and talk to decision makers about the new national young carers’ strategy.

Organised by The Princess Royal Trust for Carers and funded by the Scottish Government, the third annual Scottish Young Carers Festival will bring together more than 450 young carers from all over Scotland.

Research commissioned by The Princess Royal Trust for Carers has shown that every £1 spent on services for young carers saves the public purse £6.72 – yet services are under threat because of local authority budget cuts to organisations that run young carers’ groups.

As well as giving young carers a break from caring, the Festival offers them the chance to have fun and meet others in a similar position. The two-day Festival at Broomlee will include fun activities such as drama, comedy and animation workshops run by BBC Scotland, Bollywood dancing classes, a talent show and a silent disco.

The Scottish Government published its national young carers’ strategy, Getting it Right for Young Carers, on 26 July. Feedback from the Festivals in 2008 and 2009 influenced the development of this strategy. At this year’s Festival and future Festivals, young carers can talk to policy and decision-makers and convince them of the importance of implementing that strategy.

At last year’s Festival, 86% of young carers told us that their school did “nothing” to support young carers, while 89% felt their GPs/health workers also did “nothing”. The majority of services for young carers are provided by the voluntary sector through organisations such as The Princess Royal Trust for Carers.

The Minister for Public Health, Shona Robison, and the Minister for Children and Early Years Adam Ingram, are to attend this year’s Festival on the Sunday. Young carers will have the opportunity to talk about their lives to the ministers. Also attending are MSPs from all over Scotland, and representatives from three health boards and 13 councils.

Vicki is 16 and still at school. She cares for her grandmother, who has rheumatoid arthritis, and her grandfather, who has cancer.

She says: “I’m really looking forward to the Festival for many reasons. I think it’ll be a really good laugh and I’m looking forward to talking to the ministers and MSPs to tell them what it’s like being me. The main thing will be meeting new people and feeling relaxed as the aim of the Festival is to allow us young carers to have our say and get a break from home.”

Louise Morgan, Young Carers Services Development Manager, adds: “We’re grateful to the Scottish Government for funding the Festival for this year and next year. Young carers underpin Scotland’s social care so it’s very important that the services that support young carers continue and expand.

“Funding for young carers’ services makes obvious sense in light of the long-term savings to the public purse. It is vitally important that local authorities, NHS boards and other partners continue to invest in such services and that they follow the recommendations of Getting it Right for Young Carers in the years to come.”