Young people making a difference
Something that has struck me since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic is how so many young people have really stepped up to do their bit to help the national response to this historic challenge.
I was chatting to my young mentee, Lucy McKee, about this last week, and in true Lucy fashion, we decided to do something about it!
Lucy spoke with such passion about the role young people can play in social care and helping the country through this period – and out the other side – that I thought the best course of action was to hand the blog over to Lucy to talk about this in her own words!
Some of you will be familiar with Lucy’s story. At school, she was often bullied or, in her words, “made to feel invisible”, so she decided to do something about it. She spoke to her headteacher about ENABLE Scotland’s #BeTheChange campaign, which she was proud to be a part of, and gave a presentation to the whole school about what it’s like to have a learning disability and the importance of everyone being open, supportive and inclusive.
As an ENABLE Scotland Change Champion, she took her message even further, being elected our National ACE (Active Community of Empowered people) Youth Chair, winning recognition at the Young Scot Awards, and even speaking in front of 300 people – including the First Minister – at ENABLE Scotland’s 65th anniversary reception at Parliament last year.
Lucy would like to see more young people consider a career in social care – over to you Lucy….
The impact of young PAs
Like people all over the country, a highlight of my week in lockdown has been coming out to #ClapForCarers every Thursday night.
The dedication of all the people working in health and social care is really amazing, and it’s so important to show our appreciation for what they do.
While people of all ages are of course doing a brilliant job as care workers and Personal Assistants (PAs), I was really interested in how we can encourage more young people to come and work in social care.
I think this is really important because for a young person receiving support, you want someone nearer the same age so that you can speak to them more easily without feeling nervous or intimidated.
We love our parents and our teachers, but that’s not really the same relationship we’re looking for with our PA!
One of my friends in National ACE, Lisa Kerr, said this is really important to her.
I like to have a PA who is a similar age to me because I feel they can relate to me better. We have similar dreams, they understand my goals and my frustrations because we’re at a similar stage in life. They can really relate to the challenges young people have of juggling meeting family and friends, doing uni or college work, and either working or looking for a job.
A younger PA with lots of energy could really motivate a young person and bring something new to help them live their best life.
And ultimately, Lisa agreed with me that young people don’t want to look like they’re out with support when they’re spending time with their PA. It’s important to young people that it looks and feels more like they’re out with a friend so they feel more included.
Stepping up to help
I’ve really enjoyed reading about some of the young people who are doing amazing work for ENABLE Scotland during the Covid-19 crisis.
PAs like Ellie in Perth, who went the extra mile to throw an all-day birthday party for the person she supports so that he could have the special day he’d been looking forward to all year – albeit within the limits of the lockdown.
Or PAs like Mhairi in Lanarkshire, who told how she leaves her own worries at the door so she can give the person she supports all the attention and care they need to get through this really difficult time.
And it’s been amazing to learn about the young people who’ve been making masks and visors at schools or even at home to help build up ENABLE Scotland’s stocks of protective equipment for frontline staff.
These are fantastic examples of what I’ve thought for a long time; that this generation of young people really want to make the world a better, more inclusive place for everyone. I hope young people will have a big influence on what we consider to be the most important things in life and on what the world looks like after the coronavirus crisis is over.
ENABLE Scotland means so much to me. It has given me so many opportunities since I first got involved 6 years ago. It’s a charity that is inclusive and deals with issues in the correct way, and I think it’s a lovely organisation to work with.
I hope lots more young people will think about careers in social care and working for ENABLE Scotland.
If you would like to work with ENABLE Scotland, you can apply for a job here.