Earlier this year at SYP’s 79th National Sitting in Orkney, we were given the brief to host a workshop educating our fellow MYSPs on the difference between a young carer and a care experienced young person. We met a couple of times prior to the sitting to discuss how we wanted to prepare the workshop. Max felt that it was important that MSYPs knew about their constituents and some of the barriers they face. Our intention was to host an informal session that everyone could participate in. We felt it was especially important to host a safe space as we felt as these discussions can sometimes leading to stigmatisation.
The first thing we spoke about was the definitions of ‘young carer’ and ‘care experienced’, as we were aware not all young people know what these terms mean. A young carer is young carer is someone under 18 who helps looks after a family member or friend who is ill, disabled, has a mental health condition or misuses drugs or alcohol. Older young carers aged 16-25 are known as young adult carers. The term “Care Experienced” refers to anyone who is currently in care or has been for any length of time regardless of their age. Who Cares? Scotland have a helpful explanation of different types of care on their website.
Our session was around 40 minutes, and we spilt the workshop into two parts – the information session and the interactive part. The information session was about the difference between the two groups and famous people who were either a young carer or care experienced. We felt it was important to include this as MSYPs can see that our communities are found across all walks of life.
MSYPs were asked to discuss how being a young carer and care experience could impact on their education and relationships. We shared experiences of those living in Scotland who have went through education without any support and how crucial the support can be to the young people’s mental health. We spoke to Members about how young carer services can help young carers with their caring role as well as the support provided to care experienced young people by Who Cares? Scotland. We discussed the various packages available for young people such as the Young Carer Grant and the Care Experienced Bursary.
We then moved on to the interactive part of the workshop where we opened the discussion to MSYPs. We were really moved by some of the responses we received, and it reminded us as to why we were doing this and how important it was. The impact of the workshop would be immeasurable to all the young carers and care experienced young people who live in each of the constituencies of our fellow MSYPs.
Both of us then asked MSYPs, Support Workers and SYP staff to make a pledge on how they will better support young carers and care experienced young people. Charles and I were both so moved with the response we had.
We had not anticipated the reaction from both MYSPs and staff. After we collected all the responses, we had a debrief and discussed the next steps. We aim to publish the pledges to influence decision makers and change perceptions and reduce stigmatising around the two groups. We hope that MYSPs and staff learned a lot and will engage more with the young carer and care experienced young people and the bridge the gap the communities.
Our constituents are your constituents.