Written by Madiha Ansari, LUNG
Young Carers Creative Makers (YCCM) is a partnership project between LUNG (campaign led verbatim touring theatre company), Young Carers services and the local theatre venue, that was piloted during the Covid-19 lockdown, and was originally delivered online. It is aimed at developing creative skills and confidence of young carers, building relationships with their local theatre and offering respite from their caring duties.
A young carer is someone aged 17 and under, who provides unpaid care to a relative because of illness, disability, mental health condition and/or substance abuse. It is estimated that there are over 700,000 Young Carers in Britain with an average age of 12.5 years, but they can be as young as 4 years old. 68% of young carers are bullied at school and 40% reported that their mental health has suffered since the Covid-19 pandemic. Furthermore, 58% of young carers spend an average of 10 hours a week or more looking after a loved one.
Matt Woodhead, Co-Artistic Director at LUNG, said: “The main aim of YCCM is to amplify the voices of young carers, provide a platform to share whatever message they want to share with the world (creatively) and empower the next generation of artists.”
In February half-term 2022, with support from IVE, LUNG was able to deliver their first in-person YCCM for service users in Kirklees.
Young Carers from Barnardo’s had the opportunity to play drama games, explore verbatim theatre techniques, research their arts and artist inspiration, teach and learn a new creative skill, experience a new art form and write a critical review. The young carers were given a backstage tour of Lawrence Batley Theatre, attend master classes with practitioners from the building who work across set, costume, lights, sound, and stage management, and finally have the opportunity at the end of the week to develop their research and development into a presentable piece of work.
In this case, their piece of work was a group poem on the theme of ‘Isolation is…’. The participants wrote, illustrated, and recorded their group poem which was published online to celebrate Young Carers Action Day. 11 young people aged 12-17 years, from diverse background were involved in the program.
As a result of this engagement, 100% of the participants have gone on to receive a Bronze Arts Award. The two-day program was designed by the LUNG team and facilitated by Madiha Ansari, LUNG’s Campaigns and Participation Officer. Madiha is particularly keen to engage Young Carers from global majority communities especially those whose first language is not English.
Through the development of this project, it is clear that the arts have a vital role to play in offsetting some of the challenges that young carers face. LUNG is committed to offering support in consultation of the legacy project in the local area, working collaboratively with communities and arts venues to enhance their cultural offer.
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