Our Young Carers Groups meet every Wednesday night on alternate Wednesdays. There are 2 groups of young carers; young carers aged 8 - 12 years and young carers aged 13 - 18 years The groups at present consist of 13 young carers from across both rural and urban South Lanarkshire. The group offers young people an opportunity of a break from their caring role for 3 hours every fortnight and chance to have a safe space to meet with other young carers, socialise and take part in a variety of activities that this often disadvantaged group would otherwise miss out on. The funding available to us at present is limited to £1200 per year approx and is provided by South Lanarkshire Council. The young people are very often picked up by our transport provider as soon as they arrive home from school and brought to the centre in Carluke often not arriving there till 5.30pm. This being the case the funding received from SLC covers our catering costs to provide a hot meal for them. This is often cooked fresh and the young people themselves decide on what they want to eat and get involved in going shopping and preparing the meal. The older group also often get involved in cooking the meal too. Staff often set the group challenges as to who can cook a meal for the group on the cheapest budget. This has lead to some interesting combinations and recipes but at the same time teaches the young people some invaluable life skills. This also allows the group to be creative with available funding and save money for activities outwith what we have available within the youth centre.
Activities are always suggested and planned y the young people with staff support for health and safety and risk assessment purposes. Past activities include watching movies at the cinema, bowling, theme park visits. Just last year we were very grateful to Crossroads Café in Carluke for a very generous donation which allowed us to take the group away for a residential activity weekend at Lochgoil.
'Young Carers' by Sophie
"Basically what the young carers is, is giving a chance for carers between the age of 8 and 18 years old to relax and take a well deserved break for about 3 hours every fortnight, the junior group being ages 8 to 12 and seniors being 13 till the age of 18 years old. The carers are picked up and dropped back off home making this stress free for the carers as well as guardians and food has ALWAYS been provided for the full 8 years I have been going. In the 3 odd hours we get in that time we will mostly spend in the universal connections Street level Carluke which has many consoles such as 2x Xbox 1’s, ps4 and wii as well as other stuff like pool tables, computers, TV, a kitchen for coking in etc.. so you can imagine in those 3 hours there is plenty to do as well as talk to youth workers. Even though this is the case before all of the council cuts we were able to go on more trips which has vastly been changing to very rarely.
My own personal experience in the young carers is hard to tell to someone who is not a carer themselves, this is because every time I explain how important this group impacted on my life for better I can never find the right words to say.. I have been in the young carers system since the age of 8 years old and joined south lanarkshire when I was 10, I never had a good or easy home life as a child, I looked after my mother who’s physical health is on the low and my older brother who had cancer with no support, and again I cannot stress enough how much this place has helped me, I am no longer a ‘young’ carer but I will still go in to this day and see all the staff and regulars. I was at one point relying on the young carers at one point so much that it was literally the only time I would have to go out and do something for myself and also speak to other young people in the same situation, I had and still do have issues with depression and trust issues due to the circumstances, I can truly say when no one else was ever there to hear my voice and listen every single staff member in this group where there, you can tell them absolutely anything! They will provide you with advice and a shoulder to cry on if needed because sometime that is all you need. There is some stuff I have told stuff that I haven’t even told my best friend of 13years and there’s a reason for that, I don’t think anyone could possibly ever guess what it’s like unless it’s happened to you, you sometimes don’t even want to be on this planet any more, there’s so much stress in a young persons life being a carer just basically means you need to grow up before your time, basically for me it was a reverse roll, I was the mum in my house and I struggled every single day with school due to having no time to do homework, with my family because I was simply 24/7 house maid and extended family who I no longer have contact with and even being bullied or abused..
100% I would not be the person I am today if it wasn’t for this group and the people who run it, and because I never really had a solid role model every staff members helped me realise who my true self was, and that it’s okay to be happy and love yourself, be proud of who you are and to embrace your individuality, that it’s okay not to be normal, I could write a book on all the stuff they have taught me over 8 years, I find it absolutely heart braking that any funding can even be cut from these groups as I know for a fact I would have not made it with out this place, it’s made me who I am and there’s always a place in my heart for every signal moment I have spent in the group. As well as myself every other person I have spoke to in these groups feel the same, I know I wasn’t the worst case out there which made me think who ever has theses problems has a place to go."