National carers strategy: executive summary

Unpaid care is vital to how social care is provided in Scotland, and the value of the dedication and expertise of carers cannot be overstated. This strategy sets out a range of actions to ensure they are supported fully in a joined up and cohesive way.

5. Young Carers

Strategic outcomes

  • Young carers are supported and protected from inappropriate caring and negative impacts on their education, social lives and future opportunities.
  • Young adult carers are supported when moving from education to training and work while balancing an ongoing caring role.

Why this is important

Caring can be a positive experience for many young people, where they are supported to manage that role appropriately, and to have a life alongside it. Through caring, young people often develop skills and values, as well as a sense of pride and increased self-esteem from their role.[9] There are an estimated 28,000 young carers in Scotland under the age of 18 although this is generally regarded as an underestimate. Young carers often go above and beyond what is expected of them as young people.

However, caring can also put pressure on young people, especially where they undertake inappropriate caring responsibilities or spend long hours providing care. Without the right support, young carers are at risk of negative impacts on their educational attainment, relationships with their peer group and their mental health.

Young carers often find it challenging to recognise that they have additional responsibilities. Many have grown up with caring being part of their family dynamic and these extra tasks can feel normal to them.[10] Sometimes families or young people will have concerns about potential negative repercussions of social work intervention[11], leading to young carers actively avoiding seeking help or support.

Research also shows that young carers feel that their experiences and knowledge about the cared-for person are often overlooked by professionals, leaving them feeling excluded and undermined.[12] There can also be stigma associated with a younger person undertaking a caring role. Coupled with a lack of awareness or support for their caring role, this can leave young people feeling lonely and isolated.

The impact of all of these factors is that many young people who are providing care do not self-identify as a carer.

Evidence shows that young carers have poorer physical and mental wellbeing than non-carers, and are more likely to live in the most deprived areas.[13] Young carers also report experiences of social isolation.[14]

Young people aged 16-18 are often at a transition point in their lives as they finish school, get their first job, or undertake further study and training. However, opportunities that are the norm for most young people can be restricted for young carers due to the additional responsibilities and pressures that come with caring.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we consulted with young carers and organisations supporting them about the issues they faced, and how best we could help them. Many young carers benefit greatly from support from local young carer services. As restrictions have been removed, young carer services are now offering a mixture of face to face and online support. We continue to work closely with service managers and the national carer organisations to ensure that these services continue to have the resources they need to do this safely.

Many of the rights, policies and opportunities laid out in the preceding chapters also apply or are available to young carers. This chapter therefore highlights policies and approaches specific to young carers which contribute to recognising, valuing and involving carers, health and social care and financial and social inclusion.

"This is my speech did in my school assembly for young carers week.

Hi my name is Addisyn i might look like a normal person but I'm special I'm a young carer.

So today I'm going to talk to you what it means to be a young carer and my day to day life looks like.

Not every day is the same I'm always looking out for my brother, i help my mum before going to school if my brother has melt downs which is most days i look after him in school when i can I'm always playing outside with him i keep him safe i help getting him ready medication try and make things fun for him try keep him calm and always explain what we are going to do.

I feel that being young carer has improved me as a person i love caring and helping others

It's given me a great opportunity to meet other young carers who also goes thru similar experience as me.

However hard it gets i would never change my brother for the world

So if you know someone who's a young carer please please show them little respect as life is not always easy thank you for your time."

How we will achieve this

1. We will continue to recognise and involve young carers as part of all of the actions highlighted in Chapter 2.

2. We will continue to support the Young Carers Festival where they will have the opportunity to engage with attendees and feed into future policy making.

3. We will continue to engage with young carers in order to improve mental health and wellbeing support.

4. We will work with Young Scot to develop a social media based awareness campaign to target young carers.

5. We will continue to provide health and social care support for young carers as part of the actions highlighted in Chapter 3.

6. We will continue to support work to ensure health and social care staff have the skills, knowledge and confidence to identify, support and involve young carers in line with the Carers Act.

7. We will continue to support work to raise awareness of young carers in schools by funding a full time Education Officer post with Carers Trust Scotland and working closely with NHS Education for Scotland.

8. We will help young carers secure the use of their own rights under additional support for learning legislation via the service My Rights, My Say.

9. We will continue to encourage uptake of the Young Carer Grant by signposting via our partner organisations.

10. We will continue to fund the Young Scot young carer package and have expanded this for 2022-23.



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