Create supports carers week

There are over 6.5 million carers in the UK and rising – that is one in 10 people. 1.25 million care for over 50 hours a week, 13,000 of those being children. Unbelievably, the average age of a young carer is 12. They are less likely to participate in cultural and leisure activities and over half of young carers say that caring has had a negative effect on their school work. Carers week – from 9 to 15 June – is a UK-wide annual awareness campaign, aiming to improve the lives of carers and the people they care for. At Create, we give both young and adult carers an opportunity to participate in high quality creative art experiences, which brings them together and gives them a much needed break from their caring responsibilities. One such programme is creative:voices – a multi-art form programme for adult carers. In 2013/4 some carers in Lewisham took part in photography workshops, whilst others worked with our writer and visual artist to create storybooks for their children. The workshops encouraged collaborative working and enabled the carers to share experiences and build positive relationships whilst enhancing their creative skills. One participant described the project as the ‘highlight of each week’, whilst another commented: “At first I thought I wouldn’t have time for something like this but creative:voices made me understand that I can take time out and do something for me. Because the workshops have nothing to do with anything that’s going on in my life, it removes me from my life and gives me this other world with other carers”. Thanks to a transformational grant from The Queen’s Trust, we have created inspired:arts, a programme dedicated to young carers aged 13-25, which complements our British Land-funded art:space programme for children aged 5-18. Both have reached out to young carers in London boroughs including Merton, Newham and Southwark and further afield in Brentwood and Southend, with projects ranging from photography to drama, music to jewellery making. These provide opportunities for young carers to do something fun, imaginative and artistic with their peers in a safe, non-threatening environment. One Carers Service partner said after an art:space project: “Most of our young carers love art, so this was the perfect project for them. I try and do art with them when I go on home visits but nothing on this scale and never as a whole group. Getting them together to try different art forms has given them all a chance to explore their creative side as well as get to know one another, which is usually quite hard for young carers”. One of the young carers said simply, I’ve enjoyed these four days quite thoroughly. They’ve made me feel like I was the person who was being taken care of, and I’ve found out that I’m not alone in being a young carer.” Since 2008, we have worked with 162 adult carers and 842 young carers. We are committed to working with even more carers, providing them with a chance to express themselves creatively and develop learning, social skills, confidence and self-esteem. You can read some of their stories here. To find out more about carers and carers week, click here.