Spe­cial day aims to raise aware­ness of young car­ers

The Oban Times - - News - DAVID MCPHEE dm­cphee@oban­times.co.uk

WHAT do you want to be when you grow up? That is the theme for Young Car­ers Aware­ness Day, which takes place to­day, Thurs­day Jan­uary 26.

The Oban-based or­gan­i­sa­tion, North Ar­gyll Young Car­ers Cen­tre, has more than 100 young car­ers reg­is­tered, aged be­tween eight and 18.

The Oban Times spoke to some of them ahead of the UKwide day of recog­ni­tion.

One of the chil­dren, who wants to be an artist when they grow up, said the group is a good way to meet new peo­ple and see your friends, which was the gen­eral con­sen­sus among the young­sters.

‘A lot of peo­ple in the group are also young car­ers,’ they con­tin­ued. ‘Peo­ple who all have some­thing in com­mon.’

A 15-year- old, who vol­un­teers with the ser­vice, said: ‘It is re­ally help­ful. When I was in pri­mary school, I did not un­der­stand how my brother needed help.

‘I got an­noyed with him when my par­ents could not help me with home­work, so I come here to get help.’

Through­out the UK there are 700,000 young car­ers. The theme of this year’s aware­ness day is all about help­ing young car­ers to achieve their dream jobs or ca­reers.

Man­ager of North Ar­gyll Young Car­ers Cen­tre Morag MacLean said: ‘It is ex­tremely im­por­tant that we recog­nise there are young car­ers in the com­mu­nity.

‘We have more than 100 young car­ers reg­is­tered with the ser­vice and we know that there are many more out in the com­mu­ni­ties sup­port­ing fam­ily mem­bers.

‘The wider com­mu­nity needs to know that there are young car­ers out there in our com­mu­nity and we need to be able to sup­port them in many dif­fer­ent ways.’

Mag­gie Far­rell, of North Ar­gyll Young Car­ers Cen­tre, said: ‘It is about equal ac­cess. Young car­ers don’t al­ways have the same ac­cess be­cause maybe the per­son’s fam­ily is caught up look­ing af­ter some­one, or both par­ents have to be away for treat­ment.

‘They don’t get to do things af­ter school. The Young Car­ers Cen­tre tries to ad­dress the bal­ance. So when they come here they get a break and get to try some new stuff.’

Young Car­ers ser­vice co- or­di­na­tor Ar­lene Colewell said: ‘It is about giv­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties. We try to pro­vide op­por­tu­ni­ties for young car­ers – to try dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties in a fun way. It is not about be­ing good, just about hav­ing fun with young car­ers.’

Ar­lene vis­its Oban High School on a daily ba­sis in or­der to speak with pupils dur­ing ‘my time’. The pupils can also sched­ule a meet­ing with Ar­lene and speak to her on a one-to- one ba­sis.

‘ We have a good re­la­tion­ship with Oban High School,’ she said. ‘ We are lucky. I hear from col­leagues in other ar­eas and they are strug­gling to get into schools. Our young vol­un­teers re­ally look out for the younger ones.’

Mag­gie and Ar­lene high­lighted trans­porta­tion as one of the things that the or­gan­i­sa­tion needs help with.

‘Be­cause it is a ru­ral area,’ Mag­gie said, ‘car­ers come from all over the place.’

The or­gan­i­sa­tion cur­rently does not have a minibus and has to pay to use one when it or­gan­ises trips. It cur­rently has one vol­un­teer driver, but is on the look­out for more.

For more in­for­ma­tion, or to get in­volved with the ser­vice, visit http:// www.northar­gyll­car­ers. org.uk.

Some of the North Ar­gyll young car­ers be­fore go­ing swimming at At­lantis Leisure.

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