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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Young carers’ health suffering from caring role

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Young carers not as active or healthy as peers due to caring role, survey finds

Scotland’s army of young carers are missing out on exercise because of their caring responsibilites.

New research released to coincide with the Commonwealth Games reveals over half of young Scots who care for family would exercise more if they didn’t have a caring role.

The survey, which investigated the eating and exercise habits of 184 young carers aged 5-18, also found three in four have responsibility for food shopping and cooking family meals.

However only 9% ate the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day with 60% eating 0 to two portions.

Over half said that having a free gym membership would help them to exercise more.

Florence Burke, director of Carers Trust Scotland, said: “The physical and mental wellbeing of Scotland’s young carers is vitally important – for them and for the people they care for.

I don’t resent caring but I also don’t want to become unhealthy because of it - Katie Creggan

“There is a lot of positive work taking place in young carers’ services across the country and the Scottish Young Carers Festival provides us with a great opportunity to reinforce messages on making healthy choices.”

The importance of physical activity plays a key role in this year’s Scottish Young Carers Festival, taking place during the Commonwealth Games on 29-31 July.

Over 700 young carers from all over Scotland have come together to break from caring duties as well as the opportunity to meet other young people in similar situations.

For many of them, the festival is the only break they will have all year.

Katie Creggan, 17, from Kilsyth, looks after her aunt who has advanced multiple sclerosis.

She shares caring duies with her mother, losing three nights each week of exercise.

“It means I don’t get out as much and, as my mum shares the care we don’t eat sit-down, prepared meals as much.

“I don’t resent caring but I also don’t want to become unhealthy because of it.

“Often I make the most of my time but I’m just too tired or too busy to exercise.

“Everyone expects you to be fit when you’re young but if you’re not active because of caring responsibilities then you quickly become unfit.”