Latisha’s story ~ Carers Week 2015

Create supports the UK’s young and adult carers throughout the year with free access to high-quality creative workshops led by professional artists. For Carers Week, we’re introducing you to some of the carers that we’ve worked with and how they’ve benefited from our programmes. We’ll be publishing a new story every day so keep checking back to find out more.

Latisha* is a 15 year old carer from Merton. She was identified as a young carer when she was just 6. Her mum damaged her spine in a road accident and has been in constant pain ever since so she requires help around the house. Latisha is one of many young carers that feels that there is a lack of awareness around the needs of carers and the toll it takes on them. She talks about losing a sense of herself when caring and forgetting who she is inside.

“I liked that Create’s project was all about my imagination. There was no one telling me ‘you have to do this’ or ‘you have to do that’. It gave us freedom.

I made loads of animations with Create’s artists, one of dinosaurs, one with some moving objects, one with me and my mate doing sign language. I like the sign language animation the best because it’s showcasing my talent and one of my skills as a young carer. Not many young people can do it. I can tell people that I can do sign language but this video proves it.

I also felt like I got loads done. I find it really difficult to concentrate in school, whereas I feel more relaxed in Create’s sessions. They give me more space to open up and be myself. When we were making the animations, I worked with another young carer, Laura*. I don’t usually work well with other people but this time it felt natural. I think it has something to do with the environment; I’m doing something that I actually enjoy. I wasn’t forced to come here. I came because I wanted to be here.

At home I don’t usually have the chance to be creative. I do my chores like cooking and that’s all there is time for. At school I only have one creative subject, Food Tech, and it’s really hard to be creative in it because my teacher is telling me exactly what to do every step of the way. I don’t have any creative hobbies at the minute, apart from baking. I really want to open my own bakery one day called Delightful Desires so every Friday I try to sell my cakes at school. I’ve nearly finished designing the logo.

I like being creative and would love to go to more galleries and gigs, but being able to get out is the hard thing. On projects like these, the other young carers know what it’s like. When my other friends ask me to come out, I’ll usually say ‘No because I have to look after my mum.’ They eventually stop asking. They don’t really understand.

Other young carers know how difficult it is. What I miss out on with my friends, I make up for with the young carers on Create’s projects. If I wasn’t a young carer, I wouldn’t have some of the friends I have now, so I’ve got to think about it in positive way. If I wasn’t a young carer, I wouldn’t be doing this animation course. With Create, I’ve been able to do animation, song-writing, photography, sculpture, dancing. I wouldn’t have done any of these things I wasn’t a young carer and didn’t have Create’s support.

I don’t think the general public are aware of the issues carers face. Some people don’t have a clue. I try to explain it to them but it’s easy for them to move on and forget when it doesn’t affect them. I don’t think they understand how much time we spent caring and how much we miss out on. And the toll it takes on us too. Some of us care for people with disabilities, others with mental illness, which is really hard. Even when you try to explain, you feel people aren’t listening.

I think projects like these are really important because when you’re a carer, you can lose a sense of yourself. You spend all your time looking after someone else which means that you’re caring more about them and their wellbeing and forget about your own. You can forget who you are inside.”

*name changed to protect anonymity

If you’d like to support Create’s work with carers, text CREA28 £amount to 70070 or donate via our Virgin Money Giving page.