24 March 2023

Update on Aberdeenshire Young Carer Strategy 2021-2023

Tribute has been paid to Aberdeenshire’s young carers for their “courage, resilience and commitment”.

At a meeting of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee on Thursday, members received an update on the authority’s young carer strategy: We Are Young Carers, Who Cares for Us?

Education and Children’s Services Committee chair Cllr Gillian Owen said: “So many of our young carers do work that is hidden and we need to celebrate it. 

“Their achievements are truly humbling and inspirational and they are a credit to us all.

“It's always a pleasure to receive an update on the progress we are making with our young carer strategy, and I'm pleased to note the progress made throughout 2022 in this important area of work for us.”

Since December 2020, when the strategy was approved, quarriers – who are commissioned to provide an information, advice and support service for young carers in Aberdeenshire, have had 229 young carers registered with the service.

Over the course of 2022, 105 new referrals to the service were made, a 78% increase on the previous year. 

Family wellbeing workers support young carers requiring intensive support by meeting with them regularly to discuss the impact of their caring role, any concerns they may have and to identify ways of reducing the impact of their caring role. 

Chief Social Work Officer and Head of Children’s Services Leigh Jolly told the committee: “Our young carers are truly remarkable individuals who face a myriad of challenges in their day-to-day lives and I really would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to their courage, resilience and commitment to their families in carrying out their role as a young carer.

“It's vital we continue to get the support right for our young carers and to do this, we're committed to continue to listen to them and to their experiences to help us build on our strategy and get that support right. 

“Across our schools there are all sorts of reasons that prevent young people from feeling able to come forward and talk about their experiences, including fear and stigma. 

“It's vital, therefore, that we all play a really active, collective role in recognising and identifying young carers and actively encouraging young people to be able to feel that it's safe to come forward to talk about their own situation and for them to also be able to receive support.”

Quarriers also arrange events during school holidays and have monthly activity sessions with primary aged young carers, with the children deciding what activities they want to do, such as slime making, baking cupcakes, designing their own pizza and other crafty activities. 

Quarriers staff supported 18 young carers to attend the Young Carer Festival hosted by Carers Trust at Fordell Firs just outside Dunfermline where they enjoyed a two-night camping trip, taking part in activities such as zip lining, inflatables, football, discos, archery and axe throwing. 

There was also a three-night residential break for seven families from across Aberdeenshire in July at The Burn, a small Georgian estate near Edzell at the foot of Glenesk. 

Young carers attended along with their families and the person they care for, supported by Family Wellbeing Workers allowing them to take a break from the caring role to enjoy activities such as treasure hunts, marshmallow toasting, mindfulness, and visits from Cool Creatures and Huskey Haven.

Vice chair of ECS Cllr Anne Simpson added: “Whilst the report highlights some excellent news, there is always more to be done to raise awareness of the young carers role in our communities.

“We're still not seeing as many young carers come forward as we would like, so there will be a lot of work done this year to try and raise that profile, raise the awareness and encourage young carers to identify themselves.”

To find out more about the help and support offered for young carers, click here.