Edinburgh Young Carers Project

Claire Gilfillan recently met with an organisation called the Edinburgh Young Carers Project (EYCP) to discuss the work that they do and how probationer teachers can become more aware of young carers in their classroom and schools.

Claire Gilfillan, Web Content Editor, GTC Scotland

I recently met with Tracey Stewart, Schools Project Manager, and Lois Ratcliffe, Youth Development Worker, from the Edinburgh Young Carers Project (EYCP) to discuss the work that they do and how probationer teachers can become more aware of young carers in their classrooms and schools.

Edinburgh Young Carers Project defines young carers as young people under the age of 18 who have practical and/or emotional caring responsibilities for another person as a consequence of ill-health, disability, mental health difficulties or drug and alcohol abuse. This includes:

  • young people who are primary carers – carry out the majority of all caring tasks
  • young people who are secondary carers  - whilst not being the primary carer are adversely affected by the caring situation and responsibilities
  • young people who have been carers, whose caring situation has come to an end and who need time to adjust

The project also helps young carers over the age of 18 and up to the age of 20, who can’t always find appropriate support in adult services.

Edinburgh Young Carers Project will assess every young carer and together agree an individually tailored personal development plan. This plan looks at the individual’s caring situation, how they are coping and agree development goals to support them in their caring role. Each young carer’s situation is reviewed regularly and goals amended in light of changes/progress in their lives.

Depending on the level of support required, young carers will have access to the following support:

Group work

Our group work activities offer young carers a chance to make new friends and give them a break from their caring duties at home. It also gives young carers the opportunity to talk about young carers’ issues with each other and with the youth development workers. Where appropriate, awareness and training can be provided relating to their role as a young carer e.g. First aid training.

Individual support

The project offers one to one support sessions to young people whose needs are not fully met by the group work or if they are finding it difficult being part of the group and interacting with other young carers.

Residential and day trips

The project also organise trips to allow young carers a week or weekends away from home and their caring responsibilities, if their home situation allows it. This is a chance for young carers to try new things and have fun.

Raising awareness

A big part of Edinburgh Young Carers Projects work is raising awareness of young carers in schools. Tracey is the Schools Project Manager and as part of her job she goes out to school in-service days and CPD sessions to raise awareness among teachers. EYCP is aware that young carers can be a hidden population and teachers are not always aware of pupils who have caring responsibilities. Tracey advises teachers and probationer teachers to look out for signs such as:

  • showing a level of maturity unusual for their age
  • being socially isolated
  • behaviour difficulties
  • negative behaviour
  • absence
  • lateness
  • tiredness in class
  • falling behind with work and homework

If you are worried about a pupil in your class, you should approach the young person first of all and see if there is anything you can do to help their situation, such as extra time for handing in homework, lunchtime homework clubs or extra tuition at lunchtime. Sometimes a young carer will feel much better knowing they are able to complete their homework in their lunch hour as it frees up time for their caring responsibilities in the evening.

Referral system

Anyone can make a referral to Edinburgh Young Carers Project. There are two types of referral forms:

  • Referral form – this can be used for any third party (including family members) who wishes to refer a young person
  • Self-referral from – this can be used for a young person to refer themselves.

These forms and further information and support can be found on the Edinburgh Young Carers Project website at:

You can also get in touch with Tracey Stewart directly at if you have any queries or if you would like to get involved in the Schools Awareness Raising Project, by taking part in teacher training or organising workshops with pupils about young carers.

Listen to a podcast on the Edinburgh Young Carers Project about the work they do with young carers both in the community and in schools: