This February we teamed up with Carers Trust to run three dynamic dance projects with young carers in the South and South West of England during the half-term break.
Our professional dancers – Beth Coleman, Natalie Haslam, Amy Toner and Nikki Watson – led groups of young carers from Brighton & Hove, Bristol, and Buckinghamshire in three-day dance projects that gave them a chance to meet new people, express themselves and take an active break from their caring responsibilities.
We spoke to three of the young carers to find out about the challenges they face and get their feedback. All names have been changed to protect anonymity.
Poppy (11) cares for her brother, Jack.
“I care for my brother Jack who’s autistic and I have to take care of him because sometimes it’s hard for my parents to do it on their own. I try to ignore it [thinking about my situation] as much as I can and try and play with my friends. I’m proud of myself and how I cope with it.
“I’d describe the workshop as one of the best experiences of my life. It was basically the first young carers thing I attended. I met a really nice person called Olivia as well. I got her phone number and when I got home, she added me to a group where I met 10 other friends.
“I liked getting to know everyone and making up dances with everyone. If I liked their dance style, I could memorise some of the ideas for another time. I have a private account on TikTok and I just love to get a random sound and be weird on there. You can try anything as long as you know that it’s not about you being good. It’s about you having fun and enjoying it and wanting to do it more.”
Erin (9) cares for her older sister, Emma.
“The first lockdown for Emma was really hard and she got really frustrated doing her work. Sometimes she’s happy and sometimes she’s not happy so I have to leave her alone or I have to play with her if she asks me to play. I don’t get to choose what to do – Emma chooses.
“Having this project has really made me feel free. We’ve been doing dancing and moving and energetic kind of stuff. We created our own moves and then we put them in a different order. It’s been fun.
“I enjoyed being creative with others. It made me feel quite happy because I can meet people on Zoom. I think it’s important to do creative things because then you can show people who you are, what kind of person you are just through art.”
Bethany (8) cares for her mother.
“We care for mum because she has a chest condition and her heart stopped. When she gets very ill, I have to call my sister or my brother or bring her things.
“The workshops made me feel weird (in a good way) and happy. We danced and played games. We made a Jacket Dance where we came up with a few moves of our own and did a solo performance.
“I do creative things by myself all the time but this is the only [creative] thing I’ve done this lockdown. I felt happy. I learned how to dance better than my sister. It was literally like somewhere without the coronavirus everywhere around me. It was a lot of fun.”
This project was part-funded by Carers Trust via a grant from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, as part of the Government’s £750 million Charity Package #CommunitiesCan #letstalkloneliness