Help is at hand for Bute’s young carers

Mo, Mags and Claire of Young Carers Cowal and Bute.
Mo, Mags and Claire of Young Carers Cowal and Bute.

A new project, based in Cowal and Bute, is appealing for young people who are carers to get in touch to find out what help and support is available for them.

Young Carers Cowal and Bute co-ordinator Mags Todd, and support wokers Claire Florence and Mo Newlands, stopped for a chat with The Buteman during a visit to the island to tells us more about the project.

“Young Carers Cowal and Bute comes under the Crossroads umbrella, and is funded largely by the Big Lottery,” Mags explained. “We’ve got funding for five years, subject to our year one outcomes, and we support young people aged 5-24 who have a caring capacity, whether caring for a parent, sibling or elderly relative.

“We also support those impacted by drug and alcohol use in the home.”

In Cowal and Bute there are an estimated 360 young carers, although the real figure is expected to be much higher as many children and young adults may not be aware that they are carers.

“We offer support, drop-in sessions, we’ll be doing focus groups within schools so that the carers can have a say on how their project is run, and how we develop the project will very much be centred on that,” Mags continued. “We can offer one-to-one support, group sessions, outings, whatever is wanted. The idea is to give respite and fun, and the opportunity to be a child or young person which many young carers miss out on.”

“Many young people who are carers may be hesitant to come forward, particularly those dealing with issues around addiction, or for fear that it might affect their relationships with their families,” Claire said, “but we speak to everyone individually and find out what their specific needs are first.”

As Mo explained, the project can also assist young carers during other aspects of their life, such as transitioning between primary and secondary school which can be a daunting time for any young person, let alone a young carer.

The project is also well-placed to direct service users to other organisations, and is keen to work with as many partners across Cowal and Bute as possible to ensure there is a broad spectrum of services and facilities available for young carers.

At present Mags, Mo and Claire are in the midst of organising activities for members of the project, and there are plans for a trip to a young carers festival in August this year. “It’s for young people aged 11-18 years and it’s a music-type festival,” Mags said. “It has arts and crafts, workshops and activities, and opportunities to speak to people in government positions about the kinds of challenges they face.”

On June 4 the team would like to take Bute and Cowal’s young carers on a special outing to mark Young Carers Week (which runs from June 6-12), and would encourage anyone interested in getting involved to get in touch.

“You might not be sure if you’re a young carer, but you can drop us a message on Facebook, call, text, or email us, and we’ll help give you answers to your questions,” Mags said.

The team, which also includes Admin and Finance Support Worker Agnieszka Burnett, would be delighted to hear from any of Bute’s young carers, and can be contacted via their Facebook page, by phoning or texting 07827 767 472, or by emailing magscrossroadsyoungcarers@gmail.com.