There are estimated to be over 660,000 unpaid carers in Scotland, providing support, care and assistance to family members, friends and neighbours affected by physical and/or mental illness, disability, frailty or substance misuse.
The Scottish Government acknowledges the significant contribution that carers make to those for whom they care, but also to their local communities, to wider Scottish society and to the economy.
To build on the progress that has been achieved in recent years to identify and support unpaid carers in Scotland, the Scottish Government, in partnership with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities ( CoSLA), is currently developing a new Carers Strategy.
Reflecting the Scottish Government's commitment to enabling young people to enjoy the best possible start in life, the new Carers Strategy will have a separate "lift-out" section on young carers.
This leaflet provides information on the development of the young carers' section of the revised Carers Strategy for Scotland.
" Being a young carer can be difficult. The good times are when mum isn't ill and this gets me through the bad times. You don't put your bad photos in your photo album."
Young Carer, Dundee
Young carers are people, under the age of 18 years, who are providing care and support to parents, siblings or other family members who have a physical or learning disability, illness, mental health difficulty, sensory impairment or who misuse drugs or alcohol.
A telephone survey carried out by the Princess Royal Trust for Carers ( PRTC) suggests that there may be up to 115,000 young carers in Scotland.
Young people can enjoy and benefit from providing care to a loved one. Supporting a family member can result in young people having responsibility, maturity and independence. It can enhance self-esteem and enable the young person to develop resilience and insight.
However, many young carers also have to cope with inappropriate levels or types of caring, which can impact on their mental and physical health and their social, emotional and educational development.
This may include dealing with the physical demands of caring for a relative with a disability, or the psychological effect of providing a parent with personal and intimate care.
It might involve being up during the night and not being able to attend school or concentrate when there. Or not having the time or money to participate in activities after school with other children and young people. It may be a lack of the parental support to enjoy a safe, healthy and appropriate lifestyle.
The Carers Strategy will acknowledge young carers' particular needs and recognise the importance of young people being supported, relieved of inappropriate caring responsibilities and able to be children and young people first and foremost.
The Carers Strategy is being developed by the Scottish Government in partnership with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities ( CoSLA). This is being informed by a Young Carers Steering Group.
The new Carers Strategy is being developed throughout 2009 and into early 2010, with the intention that it be published in the first half of 2010.
The Young Carers' section of the revised strategy will seek to reflect young carers' views and address the needs that they themselves have identified. The Carers Strategy will seek to ensure that:
- Services recognise young carers as children and young people first and foremost.
- Short, medium and longer-term priorities for young carer support are identified and planned for.
- The needs of young carers are addressed in mainstream support for children and young people and in Scottish Government policy developments.
- The role of dedicated young carer services is promoted and enhanced.
- Barriers to supporting young carers are identified and overcome.
We would welcome your views on the priorities that the Carers Strategy should address for Scotland's young carers.
We are interested in your comments on what actions need to be taken and what developments need to be advanced to ensure that all partners work more effectively to support young carers and enable them to be children and young people first and foremost.
If you would be interested in contributing, please forward your views by 26â€ˆFebruary 2010 to:The Scottish Government
Community Care Division
Policy for Unpaid Carers
St Andrew's House