There are around 700,000 young carers in the UK, some as young as five years old, who care for an average of 17 hours a week. Some commit more than 50 hours per week to their caring role.
For most children, school holidays can be a time to relax and enjoy exciting activities but for many young carers they are a time of increased responsibility. Without the outlet of school, a caring role, which can already be isolating, may become even more demanding.
The Department for Education’s February 2016 The Lives of Young Carers in England report found holidays can be a really tough time for young carers: “Holidays were particularly challenging for most young carers due to an increase in their caring responsibilities at home and the lack of opportunity to take breaks to engage in other activities both inside and outside the home.”
This half term, Create, an award-winning arts charity which designs and runs collaborative creative experiences for disadvantaged or vulnerable people, is running a series of projects in London to provide young carers with a creative and social outlet away from their responsibilities so they can invest meaningful time in their own wellbeing.
Chris* (12 years old) took part in a Create drama project in Newham. He said, “My mum has terminal cancer. All I can do is help her out as much as I can. I have a lot of responsibilities but I don’t mind. I want her to know that her son is doing good in life and to make her proud.
“Projects like this are important because I need some time off. This is a really good opportunity for me to make new friends and take some time for myself. I feel more relaxed and know I’m in a place where I can enjoy myself.
“Doing this project I learned that I can work with new people who I don’t know. If you meet new people you have more friends and the more friends you have you feel like you’re in a world where people can help you.”
Nick* (14 years old) helps care for his three disabled brothers and was a participant at a Create filmmaking project in Redbridge. He said, “As a young carer, sometimes I get stressed about my siblings’ health and worry about them getting bullied or discriminated against. Sometimes I have to collect them from school or do jobs around the house. Sometimes I have to stay late at school to catch up on the homework I miss but I have to put my brothers’ needs first.
“Create’s workshops have given me time away from being a carer and give my siblings space. The projects are very creative so they’re quite relaxing. At school, we’ve just had our exams and workshops like these, which I do during my holidays, decrease any anxiety and stress.
“Typically, you wouldn’t recognise a young carer if you saw them on the street but in their own personal lives, they’re quite different to other young people. It usually adds quite a bit of anxiety and stress to your everyday life. At school, not many people know about young carers. Some may ask questions but they don’t exactly get it. I guess society and people as a whole have trouble understanding what it’s like in someone else’s shoes. Every story, every person is different.”
Stories like these have inspired a team of filmmakers from Bournemouth University to make an animation about Create’s work with young carers. The digital video was one of the two winning films of this year’s Creative Vision Award, run by Kingston Smith in conjunction with Bournemouth University’s BFX Festival.
Watch the video below:
The filmmakers behind Create’s winning film, Team Pablo, produced an uplifting film reflecting the sense of empowerment that Create’s workshops bring to young carers, who can feel isolated by the responsibility they carry. Showcasing the breadth of creative art forms that Create works in, from photography to music to art, the film shows how the charity’s workshops provide young carers with skills, friendship and confidence, giving them hope for the future.
Nicky Goulder, Co-Founder & Chief Executive of Create, said: “We’ve been blown away by the exceptional creativity, ingenuity and skill of the young animators, and are delighted with the imaginative film they have created. The issues faced by young carers, including social isolation, lack of opportunities and low levels of confidence, are largely unknown by the general public. This animation will help us to raise awareness of these issues, and of the life-changing power of the creative arts.”