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Fife Young Carers

06 February 2013

A young carer is a child or young person under the age of 18 years, whose life has been affected by their significant caring role for a family member. Being a young carer can be very lonely as their time is taken up doing household tasks and having to grow up before their time. As a result, there is no time to socialise and maintain friendships and sadly many young carers are bullied at school. This is why the Fife Young Carers group is a valuable and vital service for this vulnerable client group. They are the only service in the area providing a range of support, information and respite to 60-70 carers a week aged between 8 and 18 with a total of 175 young carers registered with them.

Receiving a rare break from caring responsibilities improves the health and well being of young carers to ensure they are better able to cope with their caring responsibilities when they return home. There is also the added benefit of newly created peer support and friendships with other young carers who understand each other and their circumstances. Respite breaks and trips provide the opportunity to spend time with young people in the same situation as them while in a safe and fun environment. The families of the carers also benefit from their son/daughter going on trips as it reduces their own feelings of guilt of the responsibilities the young carers have and the time they have to spend with the cared for family member. The families are always so grateful that Fife Young Carers are able to offer an extended break for their children. This highlights the importance of regular trips and, depending on funds available, the group aim to increase the number of trips per year from 2/3 to 3/4.

“Respite breaks and trips are vital part of the service offered by Fife Young Carers, providing the young people we support a chance to recharge their batteries with friends as well as developing much needed confidence and resilience. These trips and opportunities would just not be possible without grants such as that provided by the Royal Wedding Fund through the Scottish Community Foundation.” – Roy MacGregor, Manager.

Individual Beneficiary Stories

*James is a 12 year old carer from a single parent family. He lives with his mum and brother who has sever autism. Days out for his family are impossible due the strict routines that need to be followed by his brother. He lives in a very noisy house, where, if his brother’s needs are not met it can result in screaming, throwing objects, hitting his mum as well as James. This can, understandably, leave James at times resenting the attention his brother gets from their mum. Having the opportunity to have this time away, provided James with the time he needed just to be himself, be cared for by staff and feel special. Having a male worker on the trip was an added benefit for young carers who live in single parent families where there is only mum taking on both roles. This had a positive impact on James, which could be seen when he emulated the male worker by asking to wear his ID for a while and saying ‘I could do your job; I just need to get my hair cut like you’.

*Adam and *Scott aged 10 and 8 are young brothers going through a very stressful time at home. Their mum is bed bound so not only do they have a lot of responsibilities to take care of her, she feels very guilty herself that they are missing out on so much that they could be doing if she wasn’t ill. When the brothers returned from the trip from Blackpool their mum got in touch with the group to tell them how the boys had told her it was “the best holiday of their lives”. This was the first time the boys had ever been away from home overnight without their parents and it is an experience they will remember for the rest of their lives. They have increased confidence and resilience as a result and this is very clear to see.

*names have been changed

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