Special day aims to raise awareness of young carers
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.