July and August saw PKAVS Young Carers Team take two groups of YC's to Blackpool and to West Linton for the Scottish Young Carers Festival.
15 Young Carers and staff had a great week in Blackpool - it was action packed, a very busy week!!
Most of the day on Monday was spent travelling to Blackpool by train, we arrived at our hotel around 5pm.
After enjoying fish and chips for dinner we all headed for a walk along the beach, "you can have a paddle" we said; however most of the YC's ended up soaking and had a great time playing together in the sea.
On Tuesday we went to visit the Blackpool Tower - this gave the YC's the opportunity to overcome some fears with a visit to the top of the tower, many were brave enough to climb the stairs and go higher!
We then visited the Blackpool dungeons, YC's were entertained and terrified - there was a lot of screaming from all. In the afternoon we had a visit to the circus where everyone enjoyed watching acrobatics and trapeze artists.
The rest of this day was filled with a run around at Jungle Jims, a brief dance in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom and then a couple of games of bowling.
Wednesday was spent at Blackpool Pleasure Beach - probably one of the favourite days for most of the young carers. With several brave young carers taking on the Pepsi Max ride - "I have never done anything like this before, this has been one of the most amazing moments of my life!"
Ycs challenged themselves to try rides that they were a little scared of. Probably a favourite experience for everyone was the Valhala ride - all staff and ycs went on - all got soaked - everyone loved it!!
This day was followed by a karaoke party night at our hotel - everyone enjoyed performing to the group, probably the highlight for all was the fine performance of 'Barbie Girl' by Billy and Chris.
Thursday took us to the Sandcastle water park to enjoy the waves and the flumes; this was followed by a trip to Madame Tussauds to mingle with the celebrities and then onto the Sea Life Centre to visit the sharks. This day ended with everyone getting the opportunity to visit the souvenir shops to get gifts to take home to their families the following day.
This experience was a great opportunity for all of the young carers to meet new people and make new friendships, there were different activities set that provided individual challenges for all. It was an opportunity for the Ycs to build on their self confidence. The week was full of laughter and fun; many young carers got to try new experiences that they had not had the opportunity to try before.
"This has been a brilliant week, I loved it thanks!"
"Thank you, this week has been so much fun"
This year we took 15 Young Carers who all enjoyed the 3 days/ 2 nights respite and much-needed break from their caring roles. We traveled through on Tuesday afternoon, arriving around about 2:30pm. The rain had stopped by the time we arrived which meant we could find our tents and collect roll mats without getting too soaking!
The Festival media team had the tunes blasting as usual and some of the YCs had a boogie, although a few of them were not impressed by the fact 'Despacito' seemed to be stuck on repeat. After we had had our first meal the activities were in full swing, with the YCs taking part in inflatable activities, face painting, Glammy bus, magic workshop and loads more.
The tuck shop also opened up, to the delight of the YCs who couldn't believe you could get a packet of crisps for 20p! The first night finished with the disco and then the excitement of getting to sleep in our tents for the first time, although it was a fairly chilly night and most of us had extra layers on in our sleeping bags.
On the second day most of the YCs were up early and raring to go, so after we had breakfast there were another load of activities to get involved in. The inflatables were back up and seemed to be a lot drier this day, which meant more YCs were keen to use them.
Other YCs took part in some arts and crafts activities, doing graffiti art, stenciling and even making their own tie-dye t-shirts. There were climbing and abseiling activities, which both our YCs and workers got involved in, there was animal handling in which some of the braver YCs got to hold a monitor lizard, snake and other creatures, a snapbooth, zombie science and many other activities.
The YC Zone was also open and allowed our YCs to give their opinions on a whole range of issues relating to being a Young Carer, the services they are part of, how to raise awareness of YCs and what local and national government can do to improve the situation for YCs. Part of the YC Zone had a sketch artist who was drawing scenarios that YCs typically find themselves in, and he drew a scenario that one of our YCs described that involved when she doesn't feel understood by her teachers at school.
That evening after tea we attended Festival's Got Talent and 2 of our YCs entered this. One YC did a great bit of singing for the crowd and the other played us some tunes on her bagpipes! Both girls did extremely well and the rest of the group gave them a lot of support and cheered them on. The night rounded off with the silent disco, where the staff got to show up the YCs with superior dance moves (especially Stuart!) and then we had fireworks to top everything off before heading back to our tents, and thankfully not having a nearly as chilly night.
On the final day there were some activities taking place and we finally had some glorious sunshine to end on a high and to boost our spirits whilst taking down all the tents. Once this was finished and we collected our lunches it was time to say 'bye bye Broomielaw' and head back home.
The Carers Trust representative for the Scottish Youth Parliament Lauren Baigrie, is currently consulting with young carers all over Scotland.
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International Guide to support families of children with complex needs and the professionals who care for them.