Carers Week 2016: Richmond Carers Centre

Young carers from Richmond Carers Centre take part in a Create drama workshop

For Carers Week 2016 Create is celebrating its amazing carer friendly partner organisations. Today we’d like to introduce you to Richmond Carers Centre (RCC), which we’ve worked with since 2014 on our inspired:arts programmes for young carers.

As RCC’s website explains, young carers are children and young people under the age of 18 who take on practical and/or emotional caring responsibilities often beyond their years. These can include anything from cooking, shopping and housework, to the administering of medication, assisting with personal care such as washing or dressing, interpreting, physical and emotional support, or looking after siblings. Young carers’ roles are often overlooked: respondents of a study by The Carers Trust in 2015 showed 50% of young carers as feeling unsupported.        

RCC is a charity that addresses this, acknowledging the work that young carers undertake and offering free, confidential information to help those living in or caring for someone within London’s borough of Richmond. RCC provides a range of services for the young carers that attend: its 11+ Young Carers Social Group offers an informal and fun peer support group for registered young carers of secondary school age, with sessions giving the opportunity for individuals to share personal thoughts and feelings, encouraging group discussions and collective activities. Siblings between the ages of 5 and 11 sharing caring duties also have the chance to spend time with one another away from the domestic context of responsibility in RCC’s ‘FRAME group’ – an after school group where they can come together for a variety of activities, be it cooking, crafting or creating art. Outside these group settings one-to-one support is available through RCC’s mentoring programme, where a safe space for individuals to talk to a Young Carers Support Worker can be facilitated, either at school or at RCC’s centre.     

Create’s collaboration with RCC through our inspired:arts programme builds on the support that RCC offers young carers. Through creative workshops led by our professional artists, young carers forge relationships and support networks, helping to build new skills and confidence and enjoy valuable “me time”. Since our collaboration’s inception in 2014, Create’s artists have led a wide range of creative workshops including music, photography, animation, creative writing, drama, visual art, jewellery and costume/set design.

We spoke to Chloe Cooper, one of our animation artists , about a three-day inspired:arts project she led last October. The young carers explored various forms of animation, fashioning their own thaumatropes and flipbooks, as well as scripting, shooting and editing Halloween-themed, animated short films: “We had a great time together. The RCC staff were really supportive and got stuck in – even decorating the room for our Halloween screening. The young carers were fantastic – they were so creative – they had amazing ideas for characters, story lines and editing. They were really ambitious and made fantastic animations. When it came to the screening they shared what they’d done with their families with real pride.”

Create’s partnership with RCC continues this year, with forthcoming inspired:arts projects on the horizon in August, continuing to February 2017.

For more on RCC, head to their website for their activity schedule, an informative blog, and a list of useful resources for young carers.