Lauren King MSYP – #SYP53 & Care.Fair.Share. Friday Focus

March 14th, 2014


Lauren and her brother Ryan

Lauren and her brother Ryan

As a young carer, I have experienced first hand how difficult it is to care, be in education and hold down a job. It is stressful and for many young carers it is virtually impossible. I was fortunate enough to not be the only carer in my household. My mum and I share the responsibilities that we take on to care for Ryan. My mum has always encouraged me to achieve everything that I could.

Unfortunately, not all young carers have that privilege. Many of the young carers that I know personally are continuously struggling to make ends meet. Knowing this, and experiencing first hand how difficult it can be, has made me even more determined and passionate to advocate for young carers and campaign to ease a little bit of the pressure that comes with caring responsibilities,  by alleviating the looming financial burden that young carers so often face.

As a young carer, I have always felt like the responsibilities I take on are just a part of normality and that big sisters should help look after their younger siblings. Ryan needed a lot more care than most children, but it has never been an issue. For me, my brother always comes first. That is why many young carers find it so difficult. Caring is their main priority and therefore so other important priorities such as education become compromised. However, care shouldn’t mean compromise. Young carers need financial support to help allow them access and progress through the opportunities in education that they deserve.

I am extremely proud of the effort and energy that has been put into the Care.Fair.Share. campaign so far. MSYPs from across Scotland are continuously campaigning to raise awareness and gain support to the objectives to improve the lives of Scotland’s young carers. In order for Care.Fair.Share. to be as successful as possible and make a real difference for young carers, we need to keep up our campaigning efforts and ensure as many people as possible pledge their support and push for change. You can add you support to the Care.Fair.Share. Thunderclap here.

The Scottish Youth Parliament has led a number of hugely successful campaigns and as the new membership of 2013-2014 we should strive to ensure this campaign can be just as successful, if not better! Take a look at some of the pictures of support so far.


I am looking forward to attending the 53rd National SYP Sitting next week and getting the chance to hear everyone’s updates about Care.Fair.Share. and find out what’s been happening locally, across Scotland. It will be so encouraging for everyone to hear each others feedback about all the local support the campaign has been receiving.

The National Sittings are such great opportunities for all MSYPs to come together and share our successes, debate on current issues, discuss how we will move forward in 2014 and exceed in achieving our objectives, and each represent the views of our local constituents.

Weeks of preparation, consultation, and planning go into sittings to ensure that MSYPs are representing the thoughts and ideas brought to them by their constituents. It is exciting and often eye opening to hear the various different viewpoints that are voiced by fellow MSYPs on the behalf of their constituents.

I look forward to seeing everyone at the Sitting and getting involved in this fantastic weekend. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all MSYPs to keep up their enthusiasm with their campaign efforts and continue to show Scotland’s young carers that we care about them! Don’t forget to get involved in the online discussion about #SYP53.

Vice Chair Update Louise Cameron MSYP January – February 2014

March 6th, 2014
Louise Cameron

Louise Cameron

Hello everyone,

I hope you have all had a lovely break over the festive season. This year has already kicked off with a Board and Conveners meeting and I can tell you now we have a very busy and exciting year ahead, full of opportunities for our entire membership.

So far, 2014 has been an exciting year for me and an extremely busy one. I’ve been in two national newspapers, the Daily Record and the Sunday Herald. You can read my Daily Record article on the Independence Referendum here.

I have also started my term on the Procedures Group of the UK Youth Parliament, which will mean strengthening opportunities for MSYPs’ involvement and having more responsibilities in their roles as Members of the Youth Parliament. It kicked off with a residential in a haunted mansion in rural Staffordshire.

I will also be looking for a lot of support from the Membership in a project called the League of Young Voters. I attended a meeting in London with a representative from each of the other countries in the UK and we had a look into how the project will run. It ties perfectly with the current work we are doing for the European Elections and the Referendum, where we are encouraging young people to vote. It seems to be an ideal opportunity for SYP.

I’d like to say a massive thank you to everyone for all the hard work you have been doing in support of Care.Fair.Share. The campaign has received an impressive amount of attention from MSPs and has been mentioned in the Scottish Parliament. If you are doing positive work on the campaign please get in touch with me so I can celebrate your successes and you can be recognised for your efforts! Don’t forget to also inform SYP staff so that they can offer their support to help make our campaign efforts have as big an impact as possible.

Remember to try and get as many consultation cards filled in as possible so young people can have their say in the Scottish Government’s carers legislation. A bit like Love Equally, and Bite the Ballot, we want as many responses as possible as part of Care.Fair.Share. Also, if you haven’t already, you can pledge your support by joining the online Thunderclap petition here.

For my New Years resolution I vowed not to get stressed or worry about anything and I want to encourage you to make sure you are finding balance with all you are doing throughout this very busy time. It’s really important you let us know all the work you are taking on for SYP so that we can support you as much as possible. Good luck to everyone who has exams, and everyone who is waiting for University replies.

So after a very successful 2013, let’s embrace the challenges ahead in 2014 and multiply our successes!


Louise Cameron


Check out some of the Care.Fair.Share. campaign activity highlights below from January – February 2014


CareFairShare support collage 3rdFeb14


Member of the Moment – Robbie Nicoll


He has organised a summit between all North East MSYPs and MSPs regarding Care.Fair.Share. and has already gained four  MSPs’ signatures in support of the campaign. He has been doing work experience in parliamentary offices and has been working on a video diary project, where he has been challenging MPs, MSPs and Councillors on youth issues. Also, he has been doing a consultation with young people in Aberdeenshire, ran through all schools regarding mental health, bullying, sport and much more.


Ellena Leslie MSYP – Care.Fair.Share. Friday Focus

February 28th, 2014

Ellena Leslie MSYP pledge board supportChildhood is something most of us take for granted. However, childhood is something that many young carers have to give up in order to care for their loved ones. It astonishes me that some children don’t have the opportunity to be a child; to be a carefree child and enjoy a childhood with limited worries or responsibilities.

The Care Fair.Share. campaign is a fantastic opportunity for young people to receive that help and support that they truly deserve.

On Sunday the 23rd February, I was invited along a Young Carers event in my constituency held by Connecting Carers. The intention of the day was to give young carers a break and to take a step back from the selfless responsibilities which they take on. It was a chance to relax and to enjoy the day. The event was held at Eden Court, a large multi-use theatre in the heart of Inverness.

There were three workshops which ran throughout the day. Each of these provided a chance for the young people to have a taste of different activities related to theatre and theatre production.  I danced, acted, filmed, and made music with the other young people in attendance. We had the opportunity to use and act in front of a green screen and so my group tried acting out some really fun scenes such as a 70’s disco, a zombie chase, and a weather report. It was great fun! There was even a drop-in horror makeup taster. It was amazing- I saw people with black eyes and a very realistic shard of glass in someone’s hand! They used wax and paint to create a very convincing battle wound. It was like being backstage for the production of a horror movie!

Overall, it was a fabulous day, which I know everyone enjoyed, myself included. It was lovely to be able to see these young carers able to relax, and enjoy themselves. I had the chance to talk to them and chat about their lives. I don’t know what I expected but, the work these young people do is amazing, and they deserve a great deal of recognition for what they do.

I have been raising awareness about the SYP’s campaign and after meeting with the young carers who attended this event, I have a much greater appreciation of exactly how much these young people need a helping hand; they need to be acknowledged. This campaign is a fantastic opportunity to make positive changes that these young people truly deserve.

I would like to encourage everyone to pledge their support to the Care.Fair.Share. campaign and help raise awareness about the hard work and responsibilities these young people are taking on. You can pledge your support by joining the campaign Thunderclap here.

Connecting Young Carers – Why we are supporting Care.Fair.Share.

February 26th, 2014

Ellena Leslie MSYP pledge board supportConnecting Young Carers is a part of the organisation Connecting Carers.  We offer information and support to young people between the ages of 5-24, whose lives are affected by caring. We hold activity events, and co-ordinate a variety of opportunities for young carers to have some respite, some time out, and some FUN!

In addition we are looking into the possibility of setting up local groups for young carers to access on a regular basis. We are also pulling together a Young Carer Youth Ambassador Team who will help us design and deliver services appropriate to young carers themselves.

On Sunday 23rd February we held an open day at Eden Court for young carers, providing an opportunity for young carers across the Highlands to come together for a day of fun.  A variety of taster workshops were available including dance, drama, applying horror make-up, and filming and editing.  Over 40 young carers came together and were able to enjoy these new experiences. The day was deemed a great success. You can find out more about the support that Connecting Carers provide for young people with caring responsibilities by checking out their webpage here.

Connecting Young Carers supports the Scottish Youth Parliament’s Care.Fair.Share. campaign and we were delighted to have Ellena Leslie, MSYP for Inverness and Nairn, attend our Eden Court open day event.

Young carers across the Highlands are disadvantaged in a number of ways, not least access to public transport.  Living in such a rural setting, transportation is a huge problem in our area and one of the issues facing young carers is lack of access to free transport or concessionary transport.

Educational Maintenance Allowance, although a positive step, needs to become adaptable to young carer circumstances. Young carers should be recognised and acknowledged as the vulnerable group that they clearly are.

The SYP is campaigning to ensure that young carers are treated fairly by society and government policies, and that their caring situations do not prevent them from further education and engaging in social activities. It doesn’t have to be like this. Care doesn’t have to mean compromise. You can pledge your support for #CareFairShare by joining the online petition through Thunderclap here.

For more information about the SYP’s Care.Fair.Share. campaign and how you can get involved check out the SYP website here.

Terri Smith MSYP- Care.Fair.Share. Friday Focus

February 21st, 2014

Banner-Signed Final

As a MSYP for Edinburgh and Northern Leith, I am once again incredibly proud to be supporting and promoting another fantastic Scottish Youth Parliament campaign. There are an estimated 100,000 young carers in Scotland who all do a remarkable job caring for the needs of their loved ones. Many of these young people are selflessly helping others without a thought for themselves.

I personally did not know much about young carers, or the significant number of young people in Scotland who have caring responsibilities, until Lauren King MSYP presented the young carers motion to the Scottish Youth Parliament in 2011/12. I now feel a real sense of pride that, as a youth-led organisation, the SYP have chosen Care.Fair.Share. as their national campaign for 2014. This campaign champions these young people and awareness of the need for more help for many of Scotland unsung heroes.

Since the launch of the campaign in January, my main focus has been to secure the support of my local councillors and MSPs. I have written to every Councillor from The City of Edinburgh Council, urging them to support fairer financial policies and practices for young carers. The response I have received so far has been unanimous in support of the campaign. I have been invited to present the main objectives of Care.Fair.Share. to both the Labour and the SNP members of the council. I have also been given the opportunity to meet with Edinburgh’s carers champion and Vice Convenor of Education, Children and Families. This is a great opportunity for me to try and directly influence the decision makers on a local level. Given the written correspondence I have received, I firmly believe that locally I can work with the Council, encouraging and supporting them to deliver the main priorities of the campaign.

On a national level I have written to my local MSP Malcolm Chisholm, as well all the Lothian regional MSPs who have also responded with very positive messages of support for the campaign. I had a meeting with Mr Chisholm on Thursday 20th February 2014, where he added his signature to the Care.Fair.Share. pledge board.

I believe it is important to gain the support of all the decision makers in Scotland and raise as much awareness of the campaign as possible. I would urge all my fellow MSYPs to make contact with their local politicians and share the stories of young carers, making it clear that these young people need their support. I would also like to encourage everyone to go out and speak to groups of young carers as their stories are incredibly inspiring. Hearing first-hand the difficulties and hardship many of them face really highlights how important this campaign is and it has made me incredibly passionate to gather as much support as possible and make a real difference for young carers in Scotland.

You can pledge your support for Care.Fair.Share. by joining the SYP’s Thunderclap here.

Michael McNamara- My Experience as a Young Carer

February 20th, 2014

Banner-Signed FinalI have been a young carer for around four years now and I enjoy the responsibilities which I take on. I look after my mother who has addiction issues. My day-to-day tasks can be extremely varied. I take on everyday chores such as checking the mail and cleaning the house, but sometimes my responsibilities become more of a challenge. There have been times where I have had to call for an ambulance because my mum has needed help.

As I mentioned, I do enjoy being a young carer and I take great pride in my role. However, sometimes it can also be very challenging. It can be exhausting, both physically and mentally. I am grateful for the level of support which I receive from my support worker and also my counsellor. They help ensure that I stay positive and do my best in my role, even through the challenging times.

I believe there is a lot that needs to be done to improve the standard of living for Scotland’s young carers. There is a lot of pressure on young people such as myself, and I feel that young carers are not recognised by key service providers across Scotland. I have been in situations where I have felt that there is very little recognition and knowledge of the extensive responsibilities and pressures facing young carers. Young carers need to be recognised and there must be accessible methods of support throughout Scotland.

As young people, we have a lot of big decisions facing us and therefore support is a crucial factor in ensuring we have access to the opportunities we wish to take on in order to live our lives to the full.

I have chosen to share my story in support of the Scottish Youth Parliament’s Care.Fair.Share. campaign. I believe in what the campaign stands for and the message that it doesn’t have to be like this. Care doesn’t have to mean compromise.

SYP are campaigning to alleviate the financial strain on young carers. In doing so the campaign is raising awareness of young carers like myself, who currently face compromise because of the responsibilities we take on in order to provide care and support for our loved ones. I’d like to encourage others to lend their support to this campaign and share your story. Make sure that young carers are visible and heard through this campaign and together we can make a significant change which will positively impact on the lives of these young people. You can pledge your support for Care.Fair.Share. by joining the SYP’s Thunderclap here.

Gary Paterson MSYP- Care. Fair. Share. Friday Focus

February 14th, 2014

The Care.Fair.Share. campaign is here! I have been busy promoting the campaign and encouraging people to show their support for young carers. I thought now would be a good time to update you on my campaign efforts and share ideas about how you can get involved.

Since the campaign launch on the 23rd of January, I have focused on getting the word out there on social media. I have been sharing photos, information, and links to the campaign using the #CareFairShare hashtag; if you are on twitter or facebook feel free to join in on the fun!

I have emailed my local MSPs to inform them about the campaign, providing them with information and links to the Scottish Youth Parliament website. I have used this campaign to let them know about the important work young carers do for their loved ones and for our country as a whole. You could get in touch with your own MSPs and tell them about the campaign launch and ask them to support our campaign.

I have met with a number of MSPs already to get their support. Two of Glasgow’s MSPs, Anne McTaggart and Bob Doris, both met with me in the Scottish Parliament to discuss the campaign and sign one of the Care. Fair. Share. pledge boards. You could ask your MSPs for a meeting and speak to SYP about getting a pledge board for you both to sign and share online!

I’ve also met with youth and student groups to talk about the campaign and get pictures of them signing the pledge board too; you could get in touch with groups you work with and ask for their support! You can also now download your own version of the pledge boards from the SYP website. Even if an opportunity comes up last minute you can use this resource to still gain signatures to the pledge boards and get involved in photo-sharing.

Finally, I have been working with local media to get some coverage of the campaign; if there is a local newspaper or student media in your school, college, or university you could get in touch with them to tell them about the campaign and ask other young people in your area to email their MSPs. You can contact SYP to find out about these opportunities and they will get in touch with journalists.

This is an exciting campaign and one that can make a massive difference for young people in our communities! I’m looking forward to seeing more of all of your exciting work to promote the campaign.

Gary Paterson MSYP

Lauren King- My Experience as a Young Carer

February 12th, 2014

Young carers are seen as a small minority in society; many people are completely unaware of their existence. However, this is a very unrealistic perception of the actual number of young people in Scotland who take on caring responsibilities. There is a growing 100,000 strong army of young carers – not to mention the young people who don’t identify themselves as being carers.

These selfless individuals do an outstanding job, day in and day out, to give undivided support and care to their loved ones. Young carers devote their time to caring. They do a very courageous and selfless deed for society, which saves our government significant amounts of money in caring costs. The task of caring is not always easy and children as young as five are taking on what can be a very difficult duty.

Young carers in Scotland can very easily find themselves struggling to make ends meet. They are in constant demand, often for 24 hours a day. School, college, work, social lives, and relationships- these aspects of everyday life become a struggle for many young people- not to mention the additional stress and worry that comes with the role of a carer.

The Scottish Youth Parliament has approximated that carers save the Scottish Government £10.3 billion every year through providing unpaid care. That is equivalent to the total cost of the NHS in Scotland. It is unfair that young carers in Scotland are facing compromise and finding themselves struggling to survive on a daily basis. Young carers have enough to worry about; they do not need this never-ending financial burden.

That’s why the Scottish Youth Parliament believes it is so important that we give something back to these young carers that give so much. Many people ask why I care so much about young carers and why the issue is so close to my heart. Well that’s all because of one little guy: my brother Ryan.

Ryan has had a significant impact on my life from the day he was born- and not only because it meant I wasn’t an only child anymore! Ryan has cerebral palsy, a form of brain damage which means he cannot do many things that we take for granted each and every day. His condition leads on to many other issues that affect his health, his ability to do things, and his overall understanding. Since I was seven-years-old my mum and I have been caring for Ryan. We work as a team, caring for Ryan around the clock.

Having first-hand experience of being a carer means I know exactly how difficult it can be. Ryan was always my priority whilst I was growing up.

No matter what I did, my brother was always on my mind. It’s like a natural instinct; you worry regardless of what anyone else tells you.

I was very fortunate as a young carer because my mum continuously supported me throughout everything. I became an MSYP, finished school, got into university and got a job, from all of which I gained experiences I could have only dreamt about! These opportunities have been life changing for me. However, I know that in reality many other young carers do not have these luxuries.

This only encourages me even more to stand up for this cause and ensure that a real difference is made to improve the lives of young carers.

By improving the financial circumstances for young carers, I strongly believe their lives will benefit in many different ways!

The Scottish Youth Parliament launched ‘Care. Fair. Share.’ on Thursday 23rd January 2014. The campaign’s focus is to alleviate the financial strain facing young carers.

MSYPs are campaigning on a national level, as well as in local areas throughout Scotland. I would like to encourage everyone to help raise awareness and continue to lend their support to this campaign. There are a lot of great opportunities to get involved and lend your support which you can find on the Care. Fair. Share. webpage.

By generating as widespread support as possible, we can work together and ensure we make a real difference for Scotland’s young carers.

Scottish Youth Parliament launches young voter engagement project

February 5th, 2014

Today, 5th February which is National Voter Registration Day, the Scottish Youth Parliament launched its young voter engagement project, “Aye, Naw, Mibbe: a little about politics, a lot about you”.

This project will help ensure that young people have access to impartial information, such as how to register to vote, and will be able to keep up to date with opportunities to engage in the debate with upcoming events. In addition, the project will also be a source of information to practitioners and those who work with young people by offering advice and resources about how to discuss the referendum in an impartial and safe manner.

The Scottish Youth Parliament recently convened a reference group of organisations who want to ensure that the views of young people are heard in the forthcoming debate on Scotland’s constitutional future, with a particular emphasis on hard to reach young people.

In addition, the Scottish Youth Parliament will receive additional funding support from the Cabinet Office detailed in an announcement this afternoon.  Five organisations, including the Scottish Youth Parliament, have been selected to receive funding to find new ways of reaching out to groups who feel most distant from the political process, and encouraging them to get involved in politics and register to vote.

Speaking on the day of the launch after the funding announcement, Kyle Thornton MSYP, Chair of the Scottish Youth Parliament said:

“The Scottish Youth Parliament is excited to be working with the Cabinet Office to improve voter registration.  Members of the Scottish Youth Parliament have worked tirelessly to engage young people in democratic participation.  We believe it is important the voices of young people are heard in elections, and we’re delighted to have the opportunity this year to increase the democratic engagement and registration of 16 and 17 year olds, and young people aged 18-24 on the electoral register in Scotland.”

The focal point of the project will be an online hub, which will hold access to resources and other materials for young people and practitioners. The hub,, will be launched in the near future.

“Care.Fair.Share.”: a personal account – Lauren King MSYP

January 23rd, 2014

Young carers are generally seen as a very small minority of society. They are hidden behind a myth that every family is the same, parents are parents, kids are kids.

It is however a very different story for the 100,000 young carers in Scotland today. These very unique and caring individuals go out of their way, each and every day, devoting their time to looking after a loved one who needs them.

IMG_5297Feeding, bathing, changing, administering medication, lifting and moving… these aren’t exactly the normal chores for a young person. However these young people take great pride in their duty, giving unwavering support.

The selfless acts of these young people save the Government significant sums of money every single year. So it seems unfair that many of these young people are living in poverty, struggling to meet ends meet, each and every day.

The reality is, that these young people who have an incredible role -  keeping their family together –  often have a huge burden on their shoulders, a financial burden.

It’s hard enough being a young person growing up and trying to fit in, make friends and do your best at school. Young carers then have the added stress of having a very important role to play within their families. But more worry and anxiousness is added when they realise that their family can’t afford even basic things.

This is why the Scottish Youth Parliament believe that our new campaign Care.Fair.Share is so important. Issues around young carers have come up time after time within the Youth Parliament, and now we have decided it’s time to do something about it!

So today is a somewhat historical day for many young carers. It’s the day that we as a Youth Parliament say that we care about carers. The SYP believe that young carers do an amazing job, day in and day out  and that they should not be faced with financial hardships because of their caring role.  

Many people might wonder why this issue is so close to my heart, and, well, that’s all because of one incredible little guy. My brother Ryan was born when I was just 7 years old. Little did my mum and I know that he would have a huge impact on our lives, in more ways than one.

My brother was born with cerebral palsy, leaving him blind, disabled and unable to talk. Ryan has multiple different conditions, which affect his health on a daily basis. However you will never see him without a smile on his cheeky face!

So from then on, my mum and I have been caring for Ryan. We work as a team, caring for Ryan around the clock.

Having first-hand experience of being a carer means I know exactly how difficult it can be. Growing up, Ryan was always my priority. No matter what I did, my brother was always on the back of my mind. It’s like a natural instinct – you worry regardless of what anyone tells you.

I was very fortunate as a young carer. My mum would never let me go without supporting me throughout everything and pushing me to achieve what I wanted.

 I became a MSYP, finished school, got into university, got a job and I gained experiences I could only dream about, and for that I could never thank my mum enough. These opportunities have been life changing for me. However I know that in reality many young carers don’t have these luxuries. This only encourages me more to stand up for young carers and ensure that a real difference is made to improve the lives of young carers.

Growing up as a young carer I was not recognised or even labelled as a carer until my second year of high school. It seems, doctors, health visitors, teachers, all of them, couldn’t recognise what I was doing. After all what could I do to help? I was only a kid. How wrong could they be! I had a clear role in caring for Ryan at the age of 7 and I’ve seen children even younger do the same.

Young carers like myself learn to accept that they are very rarely recognised or respected. But any young carer will tell you that that doesn’t matter to them. They do not do it for praise. However, it is absolutely vital that these very vulnerable young people are recognised before it’s too late.

As part of our campaign we hope to create awareness so that these young people who play an incredible role in their families lives get noticed and in turn, get the right support.

SYP wants to ensure that with this campaign young carers are given that support that they need by hopefully improving their financial situations and making their role that little bit less stressful!