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South Ayrshire's Young Carers win the UK grand final of the Great British Care Awards

British Care Awards 2024 - 2

A group of passionate and talented young carers from South Ayrshire have won the grand UK finals of the Great British Care Awards for the category of Unpaid Carer, following their North East England/Scotland regional win in November. The event was held at Birmingham ICC in March and was hosted by Rylan Clark.

South Ayrshire young carers, Arran, Caleb, Dorothy, Heather and Stephanie produced a short fictional film, 'The Weekend' which tells the story of three young carers and how their caring roles impact them in different ways over the space of a single weekend. The movie not only stars a number of our local young carers, but was also developed, written and filmed by young carers themselves. South Ayrshire Health & Social Care Partnership commissioned the film with Thriving Communities to give our unpaid young carers the opportunity to tell their own stories and share their experiences as part of a project during the 2022 summer holiday break. Filming took place with the help of local film-making social enterprise, The Iris.

The film is being used for awareness raising sessions in secondary schools across South Ayrshire to help young people self-identify if they are caring for someone and improve peer understanding. As well as this, it is being utilised as a valuable training resource for staff.

Councillor Lee Lyons, Vice Chair of the South Ayrshire Integration Joint Board and Health and Social Care Portfolio Holder said, 'The Weekend is a powerful film which gives a voice to our local young carers, allowing them to share their own personal experience of their role as a carer. Giving just a flavour of their life experience helps to raise awareness and understanding of the exceptional work these young people do for their loved ones on a daily basis. The fact the film was written, performed and produced by the young carers is outstanding.'

The young people have continued to raise awareness by planning and hosting a series of events, successfully raising the profile of young carers across South Ayrshire. The film is also included in a national module by Education Scotland and Carers Trust Scotland, raising awareness of young carers across Scotland.

The award for Unpaid Carer is given to an unpaid carer or former carer who, in the opinion of the judges, can demonstrate commitment and perseverance in helping to bring about better recognition and support for carers. It seeks to acknowledge and celebrate the dedication that carers show to their local community or society or the difference they have made to the life of a vulnerable person they are caring for.

The judges commented, 'This extraordinary team consistently demonstrates a level of dedication that exceeds expectations. The tireless efforts and selflessness of these young carers are truly remarkable and deserve recognition. Their unwavering commitment to improving the lives of others, often at such a young age, highlights the depth of their compassion and empathy. Well done!'

Claire Flanagan, Young Carers Strategy Lead Officer who led on the development of this film said, 'This is an outstanding achievement for our young carers. It has been a privilege working with them on this project and I am incredibly proud of what they have achieved. I am thrilled that they are being recognised for their hard work and dedication on such a grand scale. It is so well deserved.'

Two of the young carers, Heather (age 13) and Stephanie (age 14) attended the prestigious awards ceremony in Birmingham. Heather said, 'It was incredible to win the National Final, it was a fantastic night and an amazing experience. Being involved in such a fantastic project has been great fun and through it I've made great friends and the best memories'.

A parent added, 'It is great to see the continued recognition of what everyone involved in the project managed to achieve and I am so proud of my daughter's part in that.'

Another parent added, 'I am so proud to be the mother of one of these young carers and wow this film shows it all in so many ways. The way they have scripted and produced their own wee film has brought awareness to everyone who has watched it. Job done!!'

The project was also awarded the Scottish Public Services Award in the Championing Diversity & Inclusion category in Holyrood at the end of last year, and is a finalist in the YouthLink Scotland National Youth Work Awards in the Equality and Diversity category in June this year.

British Care Awards 2024 - 4
British Care Awards 2024 - National Winner