Difficulty in accessing education leaves young carers in poorer financial circumstances than their peers
Three quarters of young carers in Scotland are suffering from stress due to financial worries as a result of their commitment to look after a loved one.
The Scottish Youth Parliament’s A Costly Youth: The Impact of Caring on Young People in Scotland report said young carers and young adult carers are forced to experience significant emotional and financial strain due to their caring responsibilities.
Around 40% of those who experience stress said their major worry was about affording basic essentials with many considering dropping out of college or university.
Of those in higher education 80.4% said they struggle to study enough due to commitments to help look after their parents or siblings.
This leaves them struggling to achieve the same education level and unable to reap the benefits when looking for work.
Louise Cameron, chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament, said the research, which took the form of a survey of 165 young carers and three focus groups, highlights serious gaps in information about young carers.
These struggles are very often underestimated and the extent of their impact deserves much more visibility and recognition than is currently given
“I hope the findings of this report will prompt wider discussions with government, local authorities, and the wider third sector about how we address these issues together,” she added.
“There is a significant lack of recognition and awareness of the challenges facing those with caring responsibilities. Specifically, more needs to be done to address the needs of Scotland’s young adult carers, whose struggles too often go unnoticed.”
Exact figures for the number of carers in Scotland is not known but it is estimated there are between 500,000 and 650,000 people with caring responsibilities, and between 80,000 and 120,000 young carers and young adult carers.
Lauren King, herself a young carer for her brother Ryan, a member of the Scottish Youth Parliament for Motherwell and Wishaw, said: “As a young carer myself, I have to balance caring, attending university, and doing part-time work to make ends meet. It is extremely difficult when your financial situation dictates that a part-time job must be your priority. Young carers like myself always have to compromise.
“These struggles are very often underestimated and the extent of their impact deserves much more visibility and recognition than is currently given. It is time that a real and lasting change is made to get a fairer deal for young carers.”
Louise Morgan from the Scottish Young Carers Services Alliance and Carers Trust said: “We are delighted that the Scottish Youth Parliament conducted this research and we welcome the publication of this report. Not only does it highlight the financial hardship which young carers face, but also demonstrates the cost in terms of compromising their education and development.
“Our Alliance of Young Carers services supports over 4,000 young carers. We hope that bringing these issues to the fore will encourage decision makers to make better provision for young carers, so that they can make the best of their education and their lives outside of caring.”