Helen McEntee, T.D., Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, today attended the closing day of the 2016 Scottish Young Carers Festival in West Linton near Edinburgh, Scotland. The event has been held annually since 2008 and brings together 600 young carers from across Scotland for a weekend of fun, respite and consultation. The event also gives young carers a national voice and raises the their profile as a group.
Minister McEntee was able to engage at first hand with young carers and hear their views on what is needed to support them in their caring role. She toured the festival site and also attended a theatre performance written and developed by a group of young carers around some scenarios they face on a daily basis. Speaking after the event, Minister McEntee said: “This Festival is primarily about giving young people a break from their caring duties, but importantly, it also gives young carers an opportunity to speak to local and national politicians and representatives from health and social care services about the issues affecting them. I was impressed by the dedication of these young people in caring for frail, sick or disabled family members, often in difficult circumstances.”
Minister McEntee continued that: “In Ireland Census 2011 recorded more than 10,000 young carers under 20 in Ireland, including over 1800 under the age of 10.Our National Carers Strategy, published in 2012, commits to supporting carers, including young carers, in their caring role and to enabling them to have a life outside of caring. This festival, organised by Carers Trust Scotland with support from the Scottish Government, is one way of providing respite to carers and giving them a profile. Family Carers Ireland has recently launched its tenth family carers of the year awards. There will be four regional young carers of the year awards this year for the first time. The award is intended to highlight the dedication of the many young people in this country who provide a vital support behind the scenes for sick or disabled parents, grandparents, siblings or other relatives. The Government is committed to the implementation of the National Carers Strategy and we are also working with the Scottish Government and other members of the British Irish Council to look at good practice models of carer support across our jurisdictions.”
A young carer is a child or young person whose life is affected in a significant way by the need to provide care for a family member who has an illness, disability, addiction or other care requirement. The caring role has the potential for significant negative effects on young carers, including educational and social disadvantage, resulting in reduced life choices and limited opportunities. Family Carers Ireland provides a range of supports to help young carers look after themselves, including information packs, toolkits, online supports (www.youngcarers.ie), dedicated support groups, respite breaks, educational supports and opportunities for young carers to come together socially. The HSE also recently launched a website for family carers www.hse.ie/carers to coincide with National Carer’s week. The site acts as a ‘one stop’ shop for carers, providing information, signposting them to relevant services across the HSE website and providing links to statutory and voluntary organisations who support carers such as Family Carers Ireland, the Department of Social Protection and Citizens Information. The site also offers practical tips for carers on looking after their own health and wellbeing.