We have been working in partnership with British Land since 2003, the year Create was founded. Four years later, in 2007, we designed and delivered our first project with young carers – a vulnerable group of children who often experience bullying, isolation and mental ill health – in Westminster, the borough in which British Land’s head office is located, which we called art:space.
Since then, enabled by our ongoing relationship with British Land, we’ve worked with more than 1,000 young carers in Bath, Milton Keynes, Swindon, Winchester and the London boroughs of Camden, Hackney, Kingston, Southwark and Westminster. art:space offers them the opportunity to develop confidence, creative and social skills, and build relationships with other young carers while having a vital – and fun – break from their caring responsibilities.
Supported by committed, skilled volunteers from British Land, each art:space project brings young carers together for creative workshops during school holidays throughout the year. Often located at British Land sites, and using the spectacular artwork and architecture to inspire creative activities, our professional artists work with the young people to explore a range of art forms. These include music, drama, dance, film making, animation, sculpture, costume design, jewellery-making, painting and word play. Final performances or exhibitions at the end of each project give the young carers the chance to work collaboratively to share their work with a wider audience and build their confidence.
Joanne Hammond, Community Investment Executive at British Land, said: “The art:space programme is a wonderful example of how we connect with our local communities. Working with Create, we are delighted to give vulnerable young carers who are local to our properties a break from their caring responsibilities and the chance to explore their creativity, boost their confidence and build supportive relationships with their peers. Create carefully designs each art:space project to meet the needs of local young carers and fulfil our objectives, making a positive local difference. Our volunteers and visitors are inspired and impressed by the creativity of the young carers, enlivening our properties with their original artwork and performances, supported by Create’s professional artists.”
To celebrate ten years of art:space, we’ve collected some of our favourite quotes from participants over the years.
Cara (15) took part in art:space Winchester
“It’s difficult to get away from home and do creative things. The time it takes to travel to do projects means that I’m leaving my mum alone and she needs my help to care for my sister. My sister has the learning age of a 4-6 year old although she’s actually 20 so I play with her, keep her happy, help her get changed and give her medicine. It’s a lot for my mum to deal with on her own. At school we don’t do things like film-making but at home I do photography so this project helped me take the skills that I have and develop them into something new. Being creative makes me really happy. It gives me a chance to get away from the stress, even it’s just for a little while. These workshops have enabled me to have fun with my friends and learn something new together. When it’s stressful at home, I come and do this three-day workshop and it takes my mind off it.”
Erin (10) took part in art:space Westminster
“I feel really proud of my role creating the animation. The bit that I made got used by everyone, so that made me happy. I learnt so much in these workshops: how to set up a camera; how to set up a tripod; make animations; everything really! I have a quick temper sometimes so I was proud that I was able to work well in a group. I took a step back and learnt that it’s good to listen to other people’s ideas. Also, other people at school have been asking about the workshops and what we’ve been doing in them, so that felt good. I’ve felt a bit more confident too, because I used to have only one friend in the school but now I’m on the way to having more friends.”
Owen (16) took part in art:space Bath
“My mum developed a back problem when I was about 12 years old. It progressed until a doctor told her she couldn’t work anymore and she now suffers from depression and constant pain. My brother and I were left to go through the teen years alone and it was tough, I have only just realised that. It was really nice to explore making music because I’ve never had the chance to try it out before. Being in this environment with musicians who are friendly and have a laugh with you really encouraged me to try new things and expand my skills and knowledge. Creativity helps me to think positively, just getting on with music and doing something I like doing improves my mind-set. I felt a lot of pride when making the soundtrack; pride and a feeling of accomplishment in saying, ‘Yeah, I did that.’”
Cara, Erin and Owen articulate why art:space is such an important project. From taking young carers’ minds off what can be an overwhelming family situation to building creative and social skills that they can use at home and at school, art:space exemplifies how much the opportunity to be creative benefits the most disadvantaged and vulnerable in our society. We are deeply grateful to British Land for our long-term partnership and for enabling us to empower the lives of more than 1,000 young carers over the past 10 years.