‘THE FEEDBACK WAS EXCEPTIONAL’: KRISTA CARTLIDGE FROM MYTIME ON WORKING WITH CREATE

Krista Cartlidge MYTime
Krista Cartlidge MYTime

Create partnered with MYTime Young Carers in Dorset to deliver a photography project via Create Live! at the end of May 2020.

MYTime’s Executive Director Krista Cartlidge (pictured) tells us about the organisation’s work, how they have adapted to the pandemic, and what it was like teaming up with Create.

Who are MYTime?

MYTime Young Carers supports young carers and their families across Dorset. We work with children aged 5-18 who provide care for a member of their family.

Two-thirds of young carers say that they are bullied in school, and they regularly report feeling isolated from other children their age. The Children’s Society reported that young carers achieve nine grades lower on average than their peers.

Our work is hugely important. We bring groups of young carers together, giving them the opportunity to spend time with people who are experiencing the same sorts of things they are. This combats some of the isolation they can feel and gives them the chance to develop lasting friendships.

Young carers are incredibly selfless and compassionate. They are used to putting others’ needs before their own and this can impact their own life chances. We support these young carers to ensure they have access to opportunities, friendship and support, which will enable them to go on to live happy and successful lives.

“The opportunity to be creative is hugely important for everyone and it’s particularly important for young carers.”

COVID-19 disruption

During the pandemic, our young carers have experienced a significant increase in the care they are providing at home, as well as increased stress and worry around their own and their family’s health. COVID-19 has had a major impact on our normal provision for young carers.

We have had to cancel all our face-to-face activities and all stays at our R&R Retreat Centre. We had a whole series of young carer activities booked for the Easter and May school holidays, which would have provided our young carers with a break from their caring responsibilities. Sadly, all of these were postponed.

We have completely adapted our provision for young carers by creating an online programme called MYTime at Home. We have created and shared a huge variety of short respite activities for young carers on our YouTube channel and set up an online Zoom young carer youth group. MYTime has also started a food delivery programme for young carers and their families who are struggling to access the basic necessities and are unable to access any government support.

Teaming up with Create

Nicky Goulder (Create’s CEO) saw some of the work we were doing via our MYTime at Home programme and contacted me to discuss the work the charity had been doing, and the online Create Live! service that it had developed as a response to COVID-19. Nicky was extremely passionate about this work, and the value of bringing communities together during the pandemic.

When she described the format of a photography project delivered via Create Live!, it sounded fantastic. I knew immediately it would enable the young carers not only to learn a new skill but also spend some time with other young carers.

Our workshop was a three-day photography project with Alejandra. She was absolutely fantastic. She was able to teach our young carers a huge amount about creating beautiful and interesting photographs. They were encouraged to work in groups, giving them the chance to get to know one another and learn from each other.

They were able to form friendships with other young people who are going through a similar experience during COVID-19. It also taught them photography skills that they can now carry with them moving forward, and enabled them to explore their own home environments and to see them from a different perspective. 

The feedback we received from the participants and their families was exceptional. After the project, one mother wrote to me to say: “It all brought a tear to my eye. The creativity and ideas produced in ONLY three days, without specialist photography equipment and all far apart, was just AMAZING! I think all the children will feel now that they have had a very special collaboration with others. I think you have sparked a new interest in the children for some that shall last a lifetime.”

They all really enjoyed the sessions, working with Alejandra and the team from Create. The participants have all stated they would like to be involved in another project were we to partner with Create again.

MYTime picture

The power of creativity

The opportunity to be creative is hugely important for everyone and it’s particularly important for young carers. It allows young carers the chance to express themselves in a way which they might struggle to do if they were asked to put it into words. It also gives them the chance to see themselves differently.

None of the young carers who took part viewed themselves as photographers at the beginning of the project. By the end, they all said that they saw themselves as artists now, which is just incredible! One of the young carers has now developed a keen interest in photography and is looking to pursue it further.

The photographs that the young carers took were so incredible and of such high quality. We’ve asked each to share their best photograph with us, which we are going to have framed and displayed on the wall at our R&R Retreat Centre.

We are definitely going to work with Create again. The team are fantastic, the project was extremely well organised and supportive of the young carers needs.

A huge thank you to everyone at Create! You are absolutely brilliant and we would thoroughly recommend working with you to other organisations looking to involve their beneficiaries in the creative arts.

This project was supported by Arts Council England using public funding from the National Lottery.

Read an interview with photographer Alejandra on her experience of running a Create Live! workshop.

Visit the MYTime Young Carers website.