Evening Telegraph

CAN YOU HELP? New scheme looks to find mentors for young Dundee carers

For many young people, parents and grandparents are role models and sources of support as they grow up.

However, for some, that role is reversed – with the young person providing round-the-clock care and support for a family member.

Young carers often look after parents or grandparents who have disabilities, long-term illnesses or substance issues.

Providing such intense support at a young age can be detrimental to their growth – and many young carers fear that they could be singled out as different.

Dundee Carers Centre is hoping to recruit mentors to provide support.

Their new peer mentoring programme hopes to recruit people to support carers aged between eight and 15.

Supported by the Northwood Trust, the programme aims to give carers opportunities to fulfil their potential by accessing local groups, services and social activities – spurred on by their own matched mentor.

Carer Allan Petrie is pictured with one of the peer mentor posters.

Allan Petrie, 48, and his grandson, Ronald Sinclair, 10, from Linlathen, provide around the clock care for his sister, Megan, nine, who has an extremely rare condition called FOXG1.

The pair have been providing their input in the peer mentoring process and are enthusiastic on how the scheme could develop for young carers.

Allan said: “Ronald being involved in the process and having his voice heard has really brought him out of his shell.

“I’ve been a carer now for eight years and it isn’t always a case that I’m always able to drop Ronald off at events.

“The peer programme provides an opportunity to allow him to do more.

“We are all very enthusiastic about the project.”

Katriona Kelly, 30, a youth worker, said the Dundee Carers Centre has been consulting with families to see how peer mentoring would work for them.

She said: “We will match the carer up with a mentor, the young carer will set a goal of what they would like to achieve and work with their mentor across a range of activities.

“It’s been great to have the young carers on board to get the feedback on what would work with them.

“We’ve had a few people already inquiring.”

Sarah Boath, carer support services manager at Dundee Carers Centre, said: “Young carers can face additional barriers to participating in social, leisure and educational activities in and out of school.

“Mentors provide invaluable support for young carers to take part in activities, build their practical skills, widen their horizons and their social networks.”

Dundee Carers Centre has run its Young Carers Project since 1999, seeking out “hidden” young carers and providing them with support.

However, the issues young carers can face have been given wider national attention in recent months.

The Scottish Government estimates there are 44,000 young carers under the age of 18 across the country.

The Carers (Scotland) Act 2016, which came into force earlier this year, gives young carers more rights and better access to sources of support.

For more information, contact Katriona Kelly on 01382 200422 or email katriona.kelly@dundeecarerscentre.org.uk.