Today North Ayrshire Council unanimously backed my motion giving our full support to the Scottish Youth Parliaments Care, Fair Share Campaign. 

“NAC notes the invaluable service provided by Scotland’s Young Carers; expresses concern at the difficult financial circumstances that can force young carers into poverty, commits to implementing the Scottish Government revised EMA guidance ensuring that Young Carers do not lose their EMA because of legitimate caring responsibilities, notes the positive potential impact of the Scottish Youth Parliament’s Care, Fair Share campaign which includes introducing further concession for young carers and introducing additional student bursary support for further and higher education; and calls on the Scottish Government to meet with representatives from the Scottish Youth Parliament and to strongly consider implementing the policy proposals advocated by Care, Fair, Share.” 

Here in North Ayrshire we have around 81 young people who are registered Carers.  They have representation on the Carers Advisory Group, chaired by Carers Champion Cllr Steel and were involved in our North Ayrshire Carers Strategy.

A Young Carer in North Ayrshire is a child or young person under 18 years who has a significant role in looking after someone else who is experiencing illness or disability.  Caring tasks for young people can include; emotional support, general care, child care, domestic chores and personal care for those they are looking after.

The impact of caring on Young Carers can be significant and may go unnoticed, it can be reflected in the young persons school attendance, academic progress, social interactions and physical and emotional health.

It’s essential that carers, caring responsibilities don’t preclude them from further education and social activities.  The Young Carers support service offers a range of assistance to young people aged 8-25.  Young folk meet with carers their own age fortnightly to interact with friends in a safe and friendly environment which helps them both in their caring role and with their life outside the home.

The Scottish Youth Parliament are campaigning to ensure that young carers are treated fairly by society and government policies.  We know how detrimental financial hardship can be and the SYP Care, Fair, Share campaign is pursuing several avenues aimed at addressing that.

  •  Anomalies in the administration of the EMA, that result in may young carers losing their entitlement.
  • Additional funding and bursary for young carers struggling to afford further education due to their caring responsibilities; and
  • Avenues to alleviate the cost of travel for young carers between school, work and home to fulfil their caring and educational duties.

The North Ayrshire Carers advisory group are ahead of the game a little here and with regard to the Educational Maintenance Allowance have ensured that Schools in North Ayrshire are aware of the need for flexibility for Young Carers and focussed on ensuring they receive their EMA entitlement.