Neil Carter is Centre Manager at Whiteley Shopping Centre, which has hosted our art:space Winchester programme since 2014. art:space is a multi-arts programme, funded by British Land, which provides the opportunity for young carers to develop creative thinking through art forms including film, animation and dance.
The programme enables them meet other young carers and develop social skills, gain self-confidence and self-esteem, and have fun. Neil told us why everyone at Whiteley Shopping Centre loves getting involved in art:space.
“Community is at the heart of everything we do at Whiteley Shopping Centre as we are the heart of the community. We do not see community involvement as an additional task to be performed; it is simply a part of how we manage the Centre each and every day.
“The projects we have undertaken with Create are central to British Land’s Community Charter as they help develop skills that will help young people in their education and careers. We have volunteers at every workshop and all take a fully active part, from dance choreography to animation technology.
“Our relationship with Winchester & District Young Carers (WDYC) began two years ago. At first, many of our team didn’t understand the term ‘young carer’. As we got to know the young carers, one of our team realised that he had been a young carer himself without knowing the title. He had no support and now fully understands the vital role WDYC performs in the community. He then went on to identify a young carer living very close to our Centre and arranged for WDYC to get involved to offer support.
“We have seen one young carer in particular develop over the last two years. When we first met him he was one of the more challenging attendees with some big life choices ahead of him. We arranged for him to join us for a week of work experience and have had regular contact through the workshops. At the last workshop I had a long chat with him and discovered he has a part time job, is doing well in school and planning for further education – what a turnaround!
“Each of our volunteers has learnt something new by volunteering, and not just new skills in the creative arts! Many, myself included, have learnt how to engage with a younger generation and to understand what interests them and how they utilise social media. This has helped us in our day jobs and changed the way we implement marketing strategies at Whiteley. The workshops become a real talking point and boosted the morale and confidence of all who attend.
“Create is professional, organised but most of all, as the name suggests, creative. It is very much a good organisation to volunteer with and we have been very impressed by its professional artists. They interact with the young carers on their level and make the workshops really enjoyable for all who take part.”