accessibility & help

First aid and fun for young carers

18 March 2009

Young children learn first aid skillsFrantzesco Kangaris / BRC

Life can be very tough for young carers – that’s why we have launched a new project to provide first aid training for this neglected group and give them a chance to relax and have fun.

The new project focuses on teaching life-saving skills to young carers living in Ross-shire. Across the Highlands, an estimated 5,000 young people regularly provide care for a family member with a disability, chronic illness, mental health problem or drug and alcohol addiction.

Anne Eadie, service manager, said: “Young carers are much more likely to find themselves in situations where knowing basic life-saving skills could make a big difference – both to themselves and the people they care for.”

Time for fun

Besides teaching first aid skills, the project also provides a valuable opportunity for participants to meet other young people their own age, and gives them a chance to speak to adults who understand their situation.

Anne said: “Sadly, due to their demanding duties, young carers are often excluded and isolated from many aspects of normal teenage life. They have less free time, and are much more likely to have to deal with stressful or threatening domestic situations.

“As a consequence, their education and personal development can suffer. Crucially, this project will give young carers a chance to develop new skills, get some respite from their responsibilities and just be themselves.”

“More confident”

The Red Cross has already run a similar scheme in Skye and Lochalsh where, according to Anne: “One of the biggest benefits we’ve seen has been the change in the young carers themselves. It’s been great to see how much more confident and outgoing they’ve become as the project has evolved.”

Margaret Anne Mackenzie (14) from Invergordon attended the first meeting of the new group in Alness. She said: “I enjoyed today and now would know how to save someone in my family if they needed first aid help. Our training was brilliant and other people should really come and try it, just to have a shot.”

Anne said: “We want to work with as many young carers in Ross-shire as we can, whatever their age. As has already been proven in Skye and Lochalsh, a project like this can make a great difference to young people’s quality of life.”

The three-year pilot project is funded by Highland firm LifeScan Scotland and will see the Red Cross run first aid and respite projects in partnership with the Highland Carers Project.

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