Skye & Lochalsh Young Carers
The Skye & Lochalsh Young Carers (SLYC) was established in 2000 to provide support to young carers from across the region. In normal years, the Royal Caledonian Charities Trust frequently supports SLYC's "respite" trips - opportunities for the young carers to get away, enjoy themselves, and simply focus on being children for a while - but, throughout the COVID19 pandemic, our focus has been elsewhere.
SLYC saw a significant increase in the need for crisis support during the pandemic. This was for several reasons:
Family/friends no longer being able to help with the caring role, resulting in our service users’ caring role increasing significantly.
Different and increased pressures being placed on families, in some instances resulting in family breakdowns.
Increase in instances of domestic violence within the home.
Significant concerns around family finances and how they are going to manage/cope.
Mental health and general wellbeing remain a concern for young carers. With services still reduced, a large number remain very isolated with high caring roles. Education also remains a concern, with a number of SLYC's service users feeling unable to attend school due to the worry of something happening to their family member while they are out all day or the risk of them catching COVID.
Finally, adequate nutrition was and remains an issue. Unfortunately, the local food bank explained that they would not be able to meet the needs of our families. SLYC therefore decided to set up their own food hamper service for the families in need. Families received fortnightly provisions which include dried goods, fresh foods including fruit, vegetables and meat, toiletries and pet food. They also provided additional seasonal items such as Halloween sweets and advent calendars.
They said: "Without [the Trust's] continued support we would not have been able to set up our food hampers and financially would be in an even more difficult situation than we already are. The young carers want to ensure that you know they are genuinely grateful for all the support you give and they cannot express the difference it makes to them knowing that people want to help them."
The D&G Befriending Project is a local charity which offers an early intervention service across the region for eight to eighteen year olds. It recruits and trains adult volunteers who are, in turn, matched one-to-one with individual young people. Once matched, the befriender commits to spending a few hours a week or fortnight with 'their' young person, spending time building up a relationship and taking part in shared activities.
Children and young people referred to the Project may be isolated within the community or experiencing difficulties at home or school. These vulnerable individuals have often had a particularly tough time of it during the pandemic.
The time spent with an adult befriender can provide vital individual attention and release from day-to-day pressures. Having and working with a befriender can help the young person tackle difficulties before they get too big. The young people benefit from the energy and enthusiasm of their befrienders and gain confidence from forming a positive relationship with a supportive adult.