In February 2015, we were delighted to extend the reach of our art:space project to North East Somerset thanks to funding from British Land.
art:space, one of our cross-arts programmes for young carers, gives young people with caring responsibilities the opportunity to take some time out from their home-life to explore their creative talents with others. Through creative collaborations, the workshops develop the young carers’ confidence, self-esteem and interpersonal skills.
During February half-term, we worked in with young carers from Carers’ Centre Bath and North East Somerset, in collaboration with SouthGate Bath, to produce a short film with a live soundtrack. Brimming with ideas for their mini-movie, the young people worked together to come up with a plot, deciding on an action-based story inspired by video games.
The young carers developed their acting and camera skills with the help of our filmmaker Aoife Twomey, shooting many of their scenes – including an impressive acrobatic fight – on location at SouthGate Bath. They then edited their film with special effects inspired by classic video games including Street Fighter and Super Mario.
Guided by Create’s professional musicians Aga Serugo-Lugo and Alvin Ryan, the young carers then composed a soundtrack for their film, combining styles as diverse as classical music and hip hop. Their film was then screened to a captivated audience at SouthGate Bath, accompanied by their live rendition of the film’s score.
Owen (not his real name) aged 16, is one of the young carers who took part in the project. He cares for his elder brother who is blind and his mother who suffers from depression and chronic pain. Owen first visited BAINES three years ago. Here is his story:
“When I was younger, my mum was a district nurse. She had to leave at five in the morning but always left us a packed lunch each day. My eldest brother has albinism and is registered blind, so I have to guide, cook and clean and do other little bits to help.
“My sister left at 12 because she couldn’t take the home environment; there was a lot of pressure, a lot of tension and anger. My mum developed a back problem when I was about twelve 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. But like everything, my home life has its ups and downs and you have to make the best of what you’ve got.
“My advice to other young carers would be to find a place to go and talk to someone. Don’t be scared. I was nervous at first but I did it. A guy from Carers’ Centre Bath and North East Somerset comes to my house and sends me letters letting me know what’s going on. I know if it gets to the point where I’m feeling low, I just have to phone them up and they’ll be there for me.
“I like to be creative but I don’t often get creative opportunities like this. I can draw at home but if I wanted to go out and record a film, I wouldn’t have access to the equipment and, although I had tried filmmaking before, I didn’t have the opportunity to look at different camera shots or experiment with new techniques like I have done here.
“When we began the project, we all had different ideas but, since we had SouthGate Centre to use as a filming location, we decided on one that was just a group of friends going out to town. With every team there are moments. The difficulty working with other young carers is that we all have something which can cause tension or drama with other people. But I really enjoyed working with such a motivated group of people.
“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. Knowing that you’ve created something gives you a nice feeling. I felt a lot of pride when making the soundtrack; pride and a feeling of accomplishment in saying, ‘Yeah, I did that.’”