Nine-year-old Harry is a young carer who looks after his younger sister, who has autism, and his toddler younger brother.
On average, young carers like Harry provide 17 hours of care a week, which can have a significant effect on their schoolwork, ability to form friendships, and mental or physical health.
Christmas can be an especially challenging time for young carers, as their responsibilities increase. In December 2020, we partnered with Lambeth Young Carers to give 12 young carers the chance to take a break from their responsibilities and have some festive fun, supported by Greater London Authority via Groundwork. They took part in a three day comic-making project with our visual artist Chloe Cooper. The project was delivered virtually, via Create Live!.
We caught up with Harry after the workshop to learn about his life as a young carer and how this workshop helped improve his wellbeing.
“I have to look after two – Juliet, my sister who is autistic, and she needs help a lot; and my brother, Oliver because he’s a baby. When my sister goes to the toilet, she always needs someone to be with her to supervise her.
“For my brother, I always have to try and distract him while my mum cooks. All the time. I always keep an eye on him. When I play games, I have to stop to help Oliver, then get back, then help Oliver, then get back, then help my mum, help my dad. It’s stressful.
“I always have to stop Juliet from carrying Oliver because she thinks he’s a doll and she starts to throw him all the way up to the ceiling and lets him fall to the floor. So when I hear him screaming, I go “oh boy!” and I have to run and walk and then Juliet goes “ai ai ai”. Then she puts him down.
“I really enjoyed the comic-making workshop. I especially enjoyed drawing my characters and helping everyone get ideas. I learned about characters, sound effects, speech bubbles, thought bubbles, captions, panels and backdrops. The workshop made me happy – I really want to say: ‘Oh guacamole!’ It’s my favourite line.
“I think projects like this are good for young carers because they refresh their minds. I can take a break just until 3 o’clock and then go back to helping mum or dad. I feel like I have taken a big break and I feel refreshed.”
OUTCOMES FROM OUR COMIC-MAKING WORKSHOP WITH LAMBETH YOUNG CARERS
All names have been changed to protect anonymity.