Author: communications

MEET MILLY, A YOUNG CARER FROM SOUTHWARK

MEET MILLY, A YOUNG CARER FROM SOUTHWARK

Young carers from Southwark participated in our art:space dance project with Create dancer Georgie Mizu. Developed in 2007 in partnership with British Landart:space was our first project with young carers and has been running for 17 years. The project continues to give young carers vital time to do something for themselves and a way to express themselves through the creative arts.  

Young carer Milly shared her experiences with us.

BEING CREATIVE

Everybody has a spark of creativeness deep-down, and it can come out at any time.

Milly

“I don’t always get to be creative at home, but at art:space I’ve been able to show my creativity through dance. There are so many different variations of dance, beyond what I knew before. This project has let me explore silk dancing, choreography, and music.

“I’ve also had the chance to listen and learn from other people’s ideas and work with others to create something incredible!”

BUILDING CONFIDENCE

“We’ve created choreography which we’re going to perform in front of our parents.”

I’ve loved being a part of building the choreography. I’ve got to create something of my own to add to the group dances.

MILLY

“Working with Georgie and Joe [Create artists] has been so lovely, I could really relate to Georgie as she felt like an older version of me! I’d love to work with them again.”

SHOWING EMOTION

You can make someone happy by dancing. There are certain dances that can change a mood, an emotion, or how someone is feeling. It’s inspiring.

Milly

“I feel so happy and calm when I dance; it lets me truly be creative and express myself. I hope other people can be inspired by our dances and seeing me follow my dreams performing on stage.”

This project is funded by British Land

Meet Daliya, a young carer from BARNET

Meet Daliya, a young carer from BARNET

During October half term in 2023, Create artist Renata Minoldo led a visual art project with young carers in Barnet. This enabled the young carers to take a break from their caring responsibilities, have fun, learn new skills, build relationships and express themselves.

We spoke to Daliya (12), a young carer from Barnet who took part in the project.

THE IMPACT OF BEING A YOUNG CARER

According to research conducted by Carers Trust (2023), caring often affects the amount of time young carers can spend with their friends. In fact, 40% of young and young adult carers reported that their caring responsibilities significantly impact their social interactions. As a result, 26% of them feel excluded from their friends’ activities, creating a sense of isolation and disconnection.

Create’s projects give young carers the opportunity to connect with others and explore their creativity and self-expression in high-quality creative arts workshops led by our professional artists.

Daliya’S STORY

“My mum has dermatomyositis and it makes it really difficult to walk and she’ll get tired really easily. She has breathing problems and muscle problems as well. So, probably about the time I was 10, I started taking care of her a lot. And I always help her in day-to-day stuff, for example doing the laundry, because it will be quite difficult for her to do it.

I think being a young carer I’ve had quite a different experience to other people my age.

DALIYA

“You have much more responsibility to take care of your parent. And then on top of that you have school work and then you also have to think of yourself. So, it’s a big impact compared to other people my age. If we have homework to do, I have to have that free time to do so, but most of the time I’m taking care of my mum. Sometimes I can be quite difficult.

“But it’s also such a great thing. You’ve learnt something like a chore that’s quite difficult to do at a certain age. So, it’s really great to learn those skills. And I feel like I have a mindset to my future.”

DOING CREATE PROJECTS

“We’ve been creating jewellery and using fabric and different materials. It was nice because I got to use my creativity and imagination. I’ve learnt a lot about using different materials and I’ve learnt wirework as well. I found that I am really good at imagination and learning colour combinations. And I’m really good at remembering things so next time I’ll remember how to do it. I was really happy with what I made. I was actually quite proud of myself.

“I do creative things very rarely. Before I joined Barnet Young Carers, I didn’t really have materials to do arts and crafts. Barnet Young Carers help me quite a lot.”

“The (Create) projects help carers especially in the half term. Instead of sitting at home, we can go out and about, socialise with others. Instead of sitting at home, we can be here doing different activities and having fun.”

“I’ve loved to socialise with other people and share our ideas. It was nice because you can talk to other people, you can have fun. We got to communicate and if someone needed help we could go and help them. I learnt that if we’re stuck it’s ok to ask others for help.”

This project was funded by Sarah Jane Leigh Charitable Trust

MEET AVITA, A YOUNG CARER FROM BROMLEY

MEET AVITA, A YOUNG CARER FROM BROMLEY

There are more than one million carers aged under 18 in the UK and an estimated 600,000 others aged 18 to 25, according to a 2023 Carers Trust study. The study further found that 56% of young carers said the cost-of-living crisis affects them and their family. Our change:matters programme uses the creative arts to upskills young carers about family finances.

In February 2024, Create musician Mike Poyser delivered a music project with young carers in Bromley. Over the course of three days, participants worked together to create pieces of music showcasing what they had learnt about finances.

We spoke to young carer, Avita (13) about her experience on the project and her role as a young carer. 

AVITA’S JOURNEY WITH CREATE

Avita’s time with Create has provided her with a much-needed break from her caregiving duties.

“I care for my mum. She has myasthenia gravis, like muscle weaknesses. It’s always ups and downs so I have to take care of her. Sometimes she’ll feel really energetic, but sometimes she won’t be. It’s different every day. And then when I was four, when my brother was born, it got really bad. So, I was looking after my little brother because my mum was always really ill. And my older brother was looking after her. I was changing my little brother’s nappies and I was cleaning him and stuff.”

Through Create’s project Avita has had the opportunity to meet new people and learn new skills.

“I’ve enjoyed that I’ve made some friends and it’s also given me a confidence boost with my music skills. I think this might make me start going to school [music] lessons. Everyone is really nice. It’s quite fun working with other people who I don’t know. Or people in my community. I know that they’re young carers as well, so I know it’s not just me and my brothers who are taking care of parents.”

Avita’s experience with Create has also provided her with financial literacy skills. “I really enjoyed learning about money and the way it works and how much things really cost and just adding it all up. By the end of the year it could cost so much. It’s really expensive, life now! Before, every time we go out, I’d want to get things, but now I realise that every little thing adds up.”

It’s going to help when we’re older, knowing about how things cost, and how to budget.

AVITA

This resonates with the findings of Carers Trust, which highlights the growing concern among young carers regarding financial stability. Their research reveals that 57% of respondents admitted to “always” or “usually” worrying about the cost of living and the continuous increase in expenses.

LIFE AS A YOUNG CARER

“I do get to go out with my friends, but I have lots of things I have to do before I go out. I either clean the house or do dishes or laundry before I leave. If my friends ask me after school ‘can you go out?’, I just say ‘no’, because I know there’s loads of stuff I need to do as well. My friends have a lot of freedom, I don’t. But I do get a bit more freedom now my brother is older.”

“I always ask my friends questions about their life as well. So, my friends don’t really know how to cook. My friend says she eats pot noodles all the time if her parents aren’t home, but me and my brothers always make food. I taught my little brother how to make simple things like cakes. But I’ve really improved my cooking and cleaning skills. I think I have a lot more skills.”

“I feel ok [about my future]. I do like studying quite a bit and I’m quite an independent worker in school. But if I always have to take care of my mum, I feel there’s more to it than that. I might have an opportunity, I might not. “

This project was funded by The Chartered Accountants’ Livery Charity.

Showcasing the creativity of Young carers on YCAD 2024

Showcasing the creativity of Young carers on YCAD 2024

There are more than one million carers under 18 in the UK and an estimated 600,000 others aged 18 to 25. At least 50,000 children and young people, including 3,000 aged just five to nine, spend 50 hours or more a week looking after ill or disabled family members.

The time young people spend caring can have a devastating impact on their wellbeing, education and future prospects. A 2023 Carers Trust survey of carers aged under 25 found that 33% always or usually struggle to balance caring with school, college or university work. 40% said they don’t get the help they need to balance caring and learning.

Create has been working with young carers for 17 years, giving them some much-needed respite from their responsibilities and helping them build skills, confidence and connections through the creative arts.

We are proud once again to be partnering with Carers Trust for Young Carers Action Day (YCAD). The theme for YCAD 2024 is “Fair Futures for Young Carers”. This year, Carers Trust is launching The Young Carers Covenant, inviting the UK Government, governments in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, councils, businesses and schools to sign a new commitment that aims to transform the lives of young and young adult carers.

People need to create, and through our projects we have been able to see first-hand the profound impact creativity has on the confidence and wellbeing on these young people.

Nicky Goulder, founding CEO of Create

OUR YCAD 2024 PROJECTS

change:matters with Sefton Carers Centre

Young carers explored animation alongside artist Chloe Cooper, resulting in the creation of three captivating animated films.

inspired:arts with Cheshire Young Carers

Young carers delved into the art of photography under the guidance of photographer Louisa Mayman, culminating in an impactful showcase of their favourite photographs.

change:matters with Bromley Well Young Carers

Young carers embarked on a musical journey with musician Mike Poyser, recording two catchy songs infused with financial literacy messages, adding a fun beat to the learning process.

inspired:arts with Carers Trust Hillingdon

Young carers created a puppetry performance with artist Robyn Olivia, crafting a compelling narrative exploring themes of animals and extinction, bringing their imaginative stories to life on stage.

THE IMPACT OF CARING

“I think being a young carer I’ve had quite a different experience to other people my age. You have much more responsibility to take care of your parent. And then on top of that you have school work and then you also have to think of yourself. So, it’s a big impact compared to other people my age who don’t have to take care of their parents that much. If we have homework to do, I have to have that free time to do so, but most of the time I’m taking care of my mum. Sometimes I can be quite difficult.” – Daliya

According to research conducted by the Carers Trust (2023), caring often affects the amount of time young carers can spend with their friends. In fact, 40% of young carers and young adult carers reported that their caring responsibilities significantly impact their social interactions. As a result, 26% of young carers feel excluded from their friends’ activities, creating a sense of isolation and disconnection.

“If my friends ask me after school ‘can you go out?’, I just say ‘no’, because I know there’s loads of stuff I need to do as well. My friends have a lot of freedom, but I’d say I don’t. But I do get a bit more freedom now that my brother is older.” – Daliya

“The [Create] projects help carers especially in the half term. Instead of sitting at home, we can go out and about, socialise with others. Instead of sitting at home, we can be here doing different activities and having fun.”

Daliya

Carers Trust has highlighted the growing concern among young carers about financial stability. Their research revealed that 57% of respondents admitted to “always” or “usually” worrying about the cost of living and the continuous increase in expenses. change:matters is our programme educating and upskilling young carers across the UK on the topic of money and family finances. We spoke to Avita, who shared her experience on the project and being mindful when it comes to spending money.

“I really enjoyed learning about money and the way it works and how much things really cost and just adding it all up. By the end of the year it could cost so much. It’s really expensive, life now! Before, every time we go out, I’d want to get things, but now I realise that every little thing adds up. It’s going to help when we’re older, knowing about how much things cost and how to budget.”

THE YOUNG CARERS ACTION DAY SHOWCASE 2024

Create and Carers Trust are partnering for a special Showcase of artwork made by young carers on four YCAD 2024 projects. The online showcase on the theme “Fair Futures for Young Carers” features animated films, music, photography and puppetry specifically created for YCAD by young people from four carers centres in Cheshire, Sefton and the London Boroughs of Bromley and Hillingdon.

Nicky Goulder, our Founding CEO, said:

“We are proud to partner with Carers Trust again for Young Carers Action Day 2024 to showcase the creativity of young carers. People need to create, and through our projects we have been able to see first-hand the profound impact creativity has on the confidence and wellbeing on these young people. The creative arts have the power to enhance lives, offering hope and inspiration. The theme for this year’s YCAD – “Fair Futures for Young Carers” – couldn’t be more apt. We have clearly seen how creative expression empowers people, enabling individuals to express themselves, share their stories, and envision new possibilities for the future.”

Vicky Morgan, Carers Trust’s Head of Young Carers and Young Adult Carers, said:

“Our partnership with Create is always a highlight of Young Carers Action Day. The way Create’s experts work with young carers to bring out their creativity and offer them a chance to express themselves is great to see. Alongside giving them the chance to make these wonderful creations, the sessions also give young carers a much-needed break from their caring responsibilities. The work this year was exceptional and really brought out our theme of “Fair Futures for Young Carers”. There were definitely some great artists of the future there.”

WATCH THE SHOWCASE

MY DAD’S IN PRISON – A CONVERSATION BETWEEN Graham, Neil and Ryan

an artwork from My Dad's In Prison

MY DAD’S IN PRISON – A CONVERSATION BETWEEN graham, nEIl and ryan

an artwork from My Dad's In Prison

Create has a long history of working with fathers in prison. Our Inside Stories project helps improve the bond between prisoners and their children through storytelling and music. My Dad’s in Prison is our innovative storytelling project that promotes understanding of having a parent in prison.

In January 2024, 15 participants spent four days in writing workshops with Create writer Carol, followed by three days in collage workshops with Create artist Chloe. They created an illustrated book entitled ‘It’s Not Forever’, which is a heartfelt depiction of how being in prison affects them and their family. The project culminated in a sharing with family members the following month and the printed book has been shared with other residents at HMP Oakwood, and shared with other residents at HMP Oakwood and other prisons.

Graham, Neil and Ryan, who had all previously taken part in an Inside Stories project, spoke to us about their experiences on My Dad’s in Prison.

First of all, can you explain what the story you created is about?

Ryan: “The story is about us as dads in prison, and how we feel going to see our kids on a visit. How they feel in preparation for coming to see us the night before and on the way and after they leave. How we put on a brave face and try to hold it together, although we want to cry at times.”

What made you decide to take part in this project?

Graham: “Well they just said it’s all for your kids, so you do it, don’t you?”

Ryan: “Yes, you do it for your kids. It lets them know you’re thinking about them.”

Neil: “I’ll second that. It’s an amazing little gift for them. I asked to go on this project, because my little girl loved the Inside Stories [book]. Obviously with what Inside Stories turned out to be, I knew this would be a good book as well, which it has been. I’m very impressed with it. You get a nice family day out of it as well where you can share your emotions.”

Why is it meaningful for you to share this book with your kids?

Ryan: “It was a nice feeling to give a book to our kids. Hopefully they’ll learn something from it too, or realise that they’re not the only ones.”

Graham: “And they’ll realise that we know they’re struggling as well.”

Neil: “Yeah, they’ll realise that we understand their emotions. Because we had to put ourselves in our kids’ shoes. At the end of the day, obviously we’re being punished, but they’re also being punished. And actually, thinking about that, it plucked on a couple of heartstrings, I ain’t going to lie. And I’ve read the book out to a few family members and it made them cry. Even though we call them every day and speak to them, this is a different way of talking to them.”

Ryan: “Day to day you talk about normal life, you don’t talk about emotions and deep stuff all the time.”

Hopefully they’ll appreciate it and just see that. They know I love them. But with this, I suppose, you’re showing it as well as saying it.

Graham

How does being in prison affect your children?

Neil: “I’ve been in a few years now, so it has become the normality to them. I can imagine when I first came in, it was a bit daunting when they came to visit. They didn’t know what to expect. My son said it was a scary place to come in. He hated it.”

Ryan: “It’s a complete change for us isn’t it. I’ve been in here, being told what to do, locked behind a door. Out there it was not like that. It’s just difficult isn’t it. It’s a massive change.”

Neil: “You know, there’s things we miss out on. I know my son was talking about he was in a classroom and there was kids going ‘oh yeah, my dad this or my dad that’ and he’s like ‘oh, my dad’s in prison’ and he started welling up. And obviously I couldn’t be there. But it’s not forever, as the book is called. Reading out the story to them [at the sharing] will be a bit emotional I think. I would probably say it would bring us closer together.”

How did you feel about being creative?

Neil: “When I found out you had to make up a story and do a collage, you think; ‘Oh my [goodness], I’m just a roofer’. When it comes to doing things like that it’s a bit daunting. You’ve got to talk from your heart. You’ve got to hit the inner mushy bit inside of you.”

Ryan: “For me, the artistic side was a little bit difficult. That’s why it’s good to do it as a group, as we all put our little bit in. It’s good to see it come together.”

Neil: “We all split into groups, we all done little sections of the story, moulded it together, made a wicked story. If I was doing it on my own, I would’ve struggled. But because we did it as a group, it come together.”

Graham: “Yeah you wouldn’t think of making a story like that, but everyone did. You can write something. Before you know it, you’ve got a story.”

It’s amazing when it all come together. I was amazed at what we could do.

Neil

Working together

Ryan: “I think the fact that we all got together as a group was good. Teamwork is something that we don’t really do in prison. But it’s good to actually do it. You have to sort of work as a team, try and get on with everyone. I think it was a good group, so nobody was overpowering. Everybody had an opinion, but everyone was willing to let it go for the greater good.”

Ryan: “This project has been emotional. It’s nice that we all share that with each other. We’ve all got to know each other a bit better on the wing as well. Not everybody is in touch with their emotional side. It’s all a bit macho in prison. But I think if you want to be upset, you should be upset. We cry. I’ve cried on a visit before.”

Graham: “I give him a big cuddle when he come back. And then it started him again.”

Ryan: “It’ll start me off now if you carry on.”

Neil: “We’re all in the same boat here really. Even though we’ve all done different crimes, we still all have the same emotions towards your kids. Not everyone’s story is the same, but everybody gets each other.”

And the best part is the end result, that we have something to give to our kids.

GRAHAM

My Dad’s in Prison was funded by The Boris Karloff Charitable Foundation, Edward Cadbury Trust, Elle (via HMP Oakwood), The Leigh Trust, and The Michael and Shirley Hunt Charitable Trust.

Meet Isla and Elias, CREATIVE:CONNECTION participants

Meet Isla and Elias, CREATIVE:CONNECTION participants

creative:connection is Create’s multi-artform programme that brings together disabled and non-disabled children to build connections and break down barriers around disability.

For five days in October 2023, 24 children from Grange Academy (special needs school) and Loreto High School (mainstream school) came together for a music project with Create’s professional musicians Matt Dunn and Holly Marland.

As well as building creativity and social skills, studies show that engaging in music requires focused attention, memory and fine motor skills, which can enhance children’s overall academic performance.

We talked to Isla and Elias* from Loreto High School about their experiences on the project:

Isla (14)

“This project is about working with Grange School to create a beautiful piece of music for [Manchester) Literature Festival. It is a chance to express ourselves through the power of music.

I loved bonding with people and getting to know everyone. And making the music of course. I have learned that it takes a lot of concentration to actually make something really good.

ISLA

“Working with Grange was a bit overwhelming at first. But then as soon as you get to know the [other children], you get to know that they’re really nice people. It’s a bunch of fun. I really like them.

“I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter what you look like, what disability you have, everyone has a chance to be successful and great.

“I think this is a wonderful opportunity.”

elias (13)

“We’ve been working with some professional singers and we’ve all been making a song to perform at Manchester Central Library on Friday. It’s been very fun, because we get to make our own tunes and everyone listens to our ideas.

“It’s been very fun working with Grange. They’re very fun to make music with because they always listen to our ideas and they’re always helping us. We’re always working as a team, we’re always listening to each other and right now our music is sounding very nice.

“It’s hard to work with them a little bit, but we’ve learnt ways that we can work together as a team. And we learned more stuff about each other because we’re having lots of fun together. Because we’ve been working together a lot, we’ve become friends.

Creative activities can develop a person’s mind. I think I’ve improved a lot. I’ve learnt how good I am at music now. I didn’t know that I was that good!

ELIAS

“Honestly, I’d like more events like these in the future, because they’re really fun.”

creative:connection Manchester was funded by Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation, The Tana Trust and an anonymous donor.

Meet ADULT CARERS Elizabeth and sue, CREATIVE:VOICES PARTICIPANTS

MEET ADULT CARERS Elizabeth and sue, CREATIVE:VOICES PARTICIPANTS

creative:voices is Create’s multi-artform programme that enables adult carers to take a creative break from their caring responsibilities, build trusting relationships with their peers and develop communication skills, new interests and confidence.

For seven weeks between October and December 2023, carers from Wigan and Leigh Carers Centre took part in a visual arts project with Create’s professional artist Lizzie Chapman.   

Elizabeth and Sue shared their experiences with us.

Elizabeth’s story

“I’ve got an 11-year-old son who was born with multiple disabilities, so I’ve been caring for the last 11 years. I had to give up my job as he got older because I couldn’t manage all the appointments, being up all night and doing a full-time job.

“I’ve enjoyed coming to the project because it’s nice having somewhere you can go.

It gives me a sense of purpose. It’s nice to have something that gives a sense of achievement. You’ve got something that you’ve finished and you can take home and show people what you’ve achieved.

ELIZABETH

trying something new

“It’s nice to have different things to try as well. Mosaics and lino printing are something I never would have tried on my own. I enjoyed having different opportunities. There are barriers that stop me from being creative, like the time and money. It’s very expensive. Particularly if you’re on a pension or you’ve had to give up your work. The Carer’s Allowance is next to nothing, so affording to do things that are for you is not really a priority. I have really tried to engage with all the different Create project and found that I liked things that I didn’t think I would like.

“One of the projects I’ve made is actually for my son’s bedroom. I showed him a picture of it and he seemed really proud of it and he liked it. And he said he could recognise what it was so that’s encouraging.

“I would like to use what I’ve learnt here in the future with my son too. Particularly I think mosaics are quite good as they weren’t too difficult. And the lino printing is quite satisfying.”

socialising through arts

“I think it’s important because it gets people together [who] wouldn’t necessarily have opportunities to meet. It goes across class, gender, age. I’m not particularly sociable. I don’t have any family, so it’s just us on our own. I think I’ve learnt that I can maybe be a bit more sociable. I think I need people and connection a bit more than I think I do. It does do you good.

“I’m not always very confident, but I think I have got more confident as the [project] has gone on and I’ve been able to speak up appropriately if I felt I needed to.”

SUE’S STORY

“I’m Susan and I used to care for my son who had young onset Alzheimer’s. But he passed away. I’m also the next-of-kin to my sister who I think has got autism. She’s 81.

“It’s lovely coming here. It’s absorbing to make the things. It’s nice to be able to chat and meet new people. And it doesn’t matter if you’re fed up or anything because everybody will understand. It’s been very important and I’ve made friends.”

I think engagement with the creative arts is valuable. It really does help.

sUE

“Sue finds solace and respite in the project. The creative process allows her to escape temporarily from all that is going on in her life and find comfort in the supportive environment.

“Because you just literally forget for a few hours: usually you’re so concentrated on what you’re doing, your mind is too full for anything else.”

This project is funded by The Smiles Fund, awarding funds from Walkers and Comic Relief.

MEET JACQUELINE, AN ART:LINKS participant

MEET JACQUELINE, AN ART:LINKS participant

art:links is Create’s creative arts project with vulnerable older people. The project aims to build skills and confidence, giving participants a chance to express themselves, connect with others and enhance their wellbeing.

For six weeks in September and October 2023, members of Chamberlain House Dementia Resource Centre in Kensington and Chelsea engaged in a transformative painting project led by our visual artist Anna Clarke.

We spoke to Jacqueline about her experience on the project.

“I’d always been used to going to clubs, whether it had been a youth club, or the rock n’ roll club. And when they stopped, especially when I got ill, I was lost. I didn’t know what to do. And at that time my hands weren’t as good as they are at the moment.”

As Jacqueline opened up about her journey, she revealed the loneliness that she faced when her family moved away. “I don’t see [my family] like I’d like to because they’ve moved. They’ve got their lives. At least I can get out and I’m not stuck in a bed or anything like that. That would do me in.”

Loneliness is not uncommon among older people in the UK. Age UK reports that over 2 million individuals aged 75 and above in England live alone, and more than a million older people acknowledge experiencing a whole month without engaging in a conversation with a friend, neighbour or family member.

Jacqueline found joy in the art:links project. Her love for drawing and the ability to create something uniquely hers became a source of empowerment.

“I do like my drawing, I’ve always done art. I’ll have to see if any of my kids have got any of the books [of my art]. I enjoyed visual arts because, when you can put something of your own on paper, it’s lovely to know that you’re the one that’s done that.”

Wrapping up her reflections, Jacqueline expressed appreciation for the project, emphasising the simple yet profound joy of being able to step outside and participate in creative endeavours.

“My favourite thing about the project was just coming here, and not being stuck indoors.”

“I can’t push myself around, and my carer is not with me 24/7. So just coming here, and seeing what we can do. And the people as well. It was good. It was enjoyable.”

art:links Kensington and Chelsea is funded by City Bridge Foundation and The Royal Borough of and Chelsea Arts Grants Scheme.

Our work with older people

Artwork from a Create ceramics project with older people in Islington

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Meet LIA, FINDING CONFIDENCE THROUGH CREATIVE WRITING

MEET LIA, FINDING CONFIDENCE THROUGH CREATIVE WRITING

81% of unpaid carers experience loneliness and feel isolated through their caring responsibilities.

In the heart of National Storytelling Week, we delve into Lia’s journey through creative:voices our multi-artform project with adult carers. We designed this to alleviate feelings of isolation and enhance wellbeing, enriching carers’ sense of belonging in their community and increasing their confidence in themselves and their abilities.

Lia has taken part in several of our creative:voices projects. We talked to her about her creative writing experience.

Lia’s Story

“I found caring rewarding but it’s sometimes very draining. But it’s something I wanted to do to give back to my parents because they sacrificed so much for us. So, I looked after them. And I enjoyed looking after them. I miss looking after them. I’m caring for my brother at the moment because he’s suffering from depression, unfortunately.”

As Lia reflected on her caring journey, it became evident that the selflessness she shows comes with its challenges, loneliness being one of them.

“Being a carer makes you feel isolated. The focus is on your loved ones, so it’s rewarding to do something for yourself. “

THE BENEFITS OF CREATIVE WRITING

“I enjoyed the project and found it therapeutic. It always brightened my day when I came here. You don’t know what creativity you have until you try it.”

creative:voices provided Lia with a platform to express herself and explore her creativity through writing. While it wasn’t easy at first to put her emotions and her mother’s journey into words, Lia’s determination and the support of the project helped her overcome the initial difficulties. Through this creative outlet, she found a way to rebuild her confidence.

“The creative writing was quite difficult. I wanted to talk about my mum and her journey. That’s what I hoped to do. How she came from Italy on a boat, not knowing English. She was quite poor. That’s what I was trying to do in the creative writing. It was quite hard at first to be honest. I thought ‘I can’t do this. I can’t speak in front of everybody! I can’t express myself! How can I write down on paper my feelings?”

Lia’s determination and the support she received on the project played a key role in her personal growth.

“But [the project has] definitely helped me to build my confidence. I’ve changed from when I first come in in March. My confidence had been knocked basically. It helped me build my confidence to be able express myself on paper and hopefully it will continue.”

Creative writing has had benefits beyond boosting Lia’s confidence, helping her to process and express complex emotions, and contribute to improved mental wellbeing.

DOING SOMETHING FOR YOURSELF

“I’ve enjoyed doing things for myself, which I haven’t done for a very long time.”

“Life is short, you’ve got to make the most of it, and I have 20 years left, so I just want to grow and find myself. Find my purpose. Because I’ve lost that. So doing these things has helped me to find my purpose again. It’s helped me grow. I nearly cried there, I’m getting emotional.”

“Hopefully it’s like a stepping stone for my next chapter and my journey will continue into doing volunteering or maybe other things that I’d like to do. “

CONNECTING WITH OTHERS

“I’m a quiet person. I’m shy, but I’m trying to do things that overcome that. I’m helping myself by pushing my boundaries. I’m trying to work on myself.”

“I feel more open [now]. I mean I wouldn’t have been able to talk to you a few months back. I suppose I was very nervous about talking to people. I just felt ‘I can’t approach people, I can’t talk to them. What have I got to say? What of interest have I got to say to people that they would want to talk to me?’ It’s a self-esteem thing. I think [the project has] boosted my self-esteem. My confidence has grown and I’ve enjoyed being creative.”

“It’s a lovely group as well. I’ve really enjoyed working with other people. I’ve enjoyed talking to them. I think I have spoken to everyone. It’s a lovely bunch of people. They’re really friendly and very approachable. I can relate to their situations because I was a carer and I am still a carer.”

“Caring is isolating, because you can’t always go out to do these things. But I’m so glad I did.”

This project is funded by The Smiles Fund, awarding funds from Walkers and Comic Relief.

MEET HARINI, A COMMUNITY:MATTERS PARTICIPANT

MEET HARINI, A COMMUNITY:MATTERS PARTICIPANT

community:matters is our multi-arts programme empowering marginalised young people in the London Borough of Brent. Launched in 2019, this programme is a partnership with three services that support: young people with learning disabilities (Brent Mencap); young migrants and refugees (Salusbury World); and young carers (Brent Gateway Partnership).

We spoke to Harini (aged 13), who attends Salusbury World, about her experience on our animation project.

“We’ve been making a short film. I’ve learnt the different ways to record and what the points are of the films. I’ve also learnt how to make the films simple and short whilst also having a deep meaning.”

Harini’s involvement in this project became an avenue for both creative expression and personal growth. Her journey within the project led her to craft a film titled ‘Accident,’ delving into a compelling narrative about overcoming challenges. “It’s about a girl whose mum was in a car crash and developed depression. So, she went to the doctor with her sister and was prescribed medicine that helped her get better as time passed. Once the mum was better, the girl was able to go back to school and felt strong.”

Settling into life in England presented its initial challenges for Harini, who admitted that it wasn’t a seamless transition. “I didn’t really feel comfortable in England at first. I’m not sure if I’m speaking the language as well as others or if my accent is good.”

Despite these feelings, Harini discovered a source of comfort and connection through the projects. While she found certain aspects challenging, such as the speaking parts, she enjoyed the collaborative experience with Linda, the Create filmmaker.

“I enjoyed working with Linda. She’s nice and has a passion for teaching kids how to make films and she has a very nice teaching technique.”

Harini’s focus is on becoming a doctor or scientist, but she recognised the importance of engaging in creative activities. “It felt very good to do something creative because you learn something new and can use this new skill for a competition or school.”

Harini cherishes the sense of belonging that comes from taking part in projects. “I’ve done projects with Salusbury World before, and we’ve been on many trips. I love being a part of Salusbury World. I would take part in a project like this again; it’s a good opportunity.”

community:matters is supported by John Lyon’s Charity.

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