Helping hand for young carers

The tale of Eric and Trayc helps youngsters to understand what such responsibility entails. Elizabeth Buie reports

There are an estimated 100,000 young carers in Scotland, roughly one in 10 of the school population. Earlier this month, a new book was launched to explain to primary pupils what it's like to take on the caring roles and responsibilities normally associated with adults.

Eryc and Trayc: A Short Story about Young Carers brings to life in cartoon form the story of a girl and boy looking after relatives who can't manage without their help.

The book is being distributed to all Scottish primary schools as part of an initiative by The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, funded by the Scottish Government. Its associated website tells children what young carers do, what challenges they face, and where to get further help and support if they are young carers themselves.

The book and website pack was launched at a special assembly at Cuthbertson Primary in Glasgow, attended by Public Health Minister Michael Matheson and Louise Morgan, development manager for young carers' services with The Princess Royal Trust.

As part of its Eryc and Trayc campaign, the trust ran a competition for primary children across Scotland earlier this year, asking them to watch an animated film about young carers. The children then told the trust what they had learnt from it. Kasim Iqbal, from Cuthbertson Primary, sent in the best answer.

Ms Morgan said: "Young carers tell us time and again that they are not recognised as young carers at school and so miss out on additional support and the opportunities their friends have.

"Through Eryc and Trayc, we aim to help primary school-aged young carers to identify themselves by comparing their situations with the ones we've set out online and in the school pack. Our initiative will also show teachers that children can be carers from a very early age."

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