Thousands of young carers across Scotland have received £600,000 in the first year of a new government grant to support them.
An annual payment of £305.10 is available to young people aged between 16 and 18 spending an average of 16 hours a week caring for someone who receives a disability benefit.
More than 2,000 such teenagers received the Young Carer Grant payment – which can be spent on anything they like – in the 12 months from October 2019.
One young carer to receive the benefit is Emma, who looks after her mother with a long-term health condition leaving her physically disabled.
The 17-year-old from Perth and Kinross helps with practical tasks like cleaning the house, cooking for the family and picking up medication.
Encouraging others to apply for the grant, she said: “One of the main challenges I face being a young carer is just less time to do everything, less time to complete things.
“The Covid-19 pandemic increased my workload at home because we were at home more. Also with my mum being high risk, it has been pretty nerve wracking.
“I spent my payment last year mostly on personal things for myself like clothes. I also used it to pay for a lot of lunches for school.
“I will reapply for the grant this year and will probably put it towards university.
“Anyone that is responsible for another member of their household should apply for the grant because caring can really take it out of you, so it’s nice to have something of your own for you.
“If you have all of your paperwork ready then it’s easy but if you don’t it can be quite tricky to find the right documents.”
Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville also urged young people to apply again and to treat themselves with the payout.
She said: “The Young Carer Grant is the first benefit of its kind in the UK and I am delighted that we have been able to help so many young carers over the course of the past year.
“We have continued to work with key stakeholders throughout the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure eligible young carers are still getting access to the support they are entitled to.
“These young people play a vital role in our society and I am proud we can help give them the recognition they deserve.
“Young people often don’t realise that what they are doing is caring – it is just part of their day-to-day life.
“If you help someone who gets a disability benefit with anything from going to the shops or even giving emotional support, this could be for you.
“I encourage any young people in this circumstance to look into this, check if they are eligible and to apply – and if it’s been a year since you last submitted your application, make sure you apply again to get your money and treat yourself.”