Participant Group: Young and adult carers

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.

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 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 Harriet, a young carer from Dorset

project manager ceramics workshop

Meet Harriet, a young carer from Dorset

During February 2023, Create artist Poppy Love-Oldham led a visual art project with young carers in Dorset. The project 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 Harriet, a young carer from Dorset who took part in the project.

EXPLORING ART

“I took part in the art project. The first day we learnt how to make different things out of clay; we made some flat shapes first where we could put stamps in. Then we made some 3D stuff afterwards, so I made a tealight. We also did some printing.

“I’d never learnt about most of these artforms before. I particularly enjoyed cyanotype where we cut out sections of paper and put it in the sun, then watched it change colour. I get to do art at school, but these were all new types of art for me. Poppy, the artist, helped us by explaining everything clearly.

DISCOVERING COMMUNITY

“If you’re stuck on something, someone else could have a different point of view… You can all say your opinion.”

“Although I was really apprehensive about meeting people, it was really nice to work together. We all got to create art and help each other. I was nervous that people would judge me or not listen, because I’d never been to a young carers project before. Everyone shared their opinions and supported one another – it was really nice! I learnt that if you’re stuck on something, someone else could have a different point of view and you can all say your opinion.”

taking a break

“Being creative helps you wind down.”

I’ve found that being creative helps you wind down a little bit. If something is going on, it helps you escape. Taking part in this project has helped me meet other people like me and have a break from my caring responsibilities. I loved just being able to sit down, relax, and be creative.” 

*Names have been changed to protect participant anonymity.

MEET JACK, A YOUNG CARER FROM UXBRIDGE

MEET JACK, A YOUNG CARER FROM UXBRIDGE

We work with young carers across the UK, providing creative opportunities that enable them to find supportive communities and discover their potential. inspired:arts is one of our flagship projects, enabling young carers to experience a variety of creative artforms, build their confidence, enhance their wellbeing and express their feelings through art.

In February 2023, young carers from Uxbridge took part in a three-day photography project with professional artist Sam Ivin. During the project, participants got experimental with photography and connected with each other through creativity.

We spoke to Jack*, a young carer who took part in the project.

“With the help of (artist) Sam, we’ve been doing photography and learning how to create art from it. This has involved exploring different mediums, like polaroid pictures and masks. It’s been nice to have the opportunity to learn all of this from a professional artist. I’ve enjoyed that even when there’s a specific task we’re doing, we still get our own sense of freedom within it.

“BEING CREATIVE HAS HELPED MY MENTAL HEALTH”

Creativity has really helped with my mental health, especially doing art with other people. It’s helped me take my mind off of everything and focus on something else for a little while.”

“I’ve learnt that even if it takes time, I can actually do stuff and I shouldn’t be giving up as quickly as I sometimes do. We’ve been working as a group and helping each other. I’ve loved learning the group’s ideas and styles and then using them to influence my own. I’ve learnt that it’s so much easier to create art than I first thought, and it’s been really fun to get involved. I’ve also learnt that you don’t need the most expensive cameras to make good art.

“Being creative felt good because sometimes everything is stressful, especially as I have assessments coming up. It’s been nice to be able to do something else besides that. Creativity has really helped with my mental health, especially doing art with other people. It’s helped me take my mind off of everything and focus on something else for a little while.”

*Names have been changed to protect participant anonymity.

Meet Nadia, a young carer from Hackney

Meet Nadia, a young carer from Hackney

Young carers from Hackney participated in our inspired:arts visual art project with Create artist Liz Jackson. The project – delivered as part of our ongoing partnership with Jackson’s Bread – incorporated the theme of wellbeing into a series of visual arts activities, including collage and tie-dye.

inspired:arts gives young carers vital time to do something for themselves, connect with others and a chance to express themselves through creativity.

Young carer Nadia* (11) shared her experience taking part in the project.

MY LIFE AS A CARER

“I care for my two little brothers, as I am their older sister. I first started caring when I was eight years old. As much as it’s my parents’ responsibility, it’s sometimes my responsibility as well. My life as a young carer is different because I have more opportunities to do stuff, like go out on trips and meet new people. Being a young carer has helped me gain skills others my age may not have.

“During the Create project we’ve been creating collages and learning about wellbeing and how we should look after ourselves and our mental health. I enjoyed making the collages because there were a lot of images I found that really represented me, like space themed pictures and cats. We used tie-dye to make our own books, and we made some charms to add to our books. We were shown step-by-step how to make the book to be homemade.

THE IMPORTANCE OF CREATIVITY

I learnt a lot, and it was really nice working with the rest of the group because I made friends.

“It felt good to do art because I’m really creative. People always tell me I have a big imagination. The staff and teachers were there to help me when I needed them, and Liz [Create Artist] would help me if I was stuck, because some of the things I found tricky to complete. I learnt a lot, and it was really nice working with the rest of the group because I made friends.

“Being creative is important because not everyone has the chance or time when they’re at home. They might have siblings to look after. Opportunities like this give people the chance to let their mind rest. It gives young carers a chance to be free and be a child while they still can.

*Names have been changed to protect participant anonymity.

Dharmesh, an adult carer from harrow

MEET DHARMESH: AN ADULT CARER FROM HARROW

Dharmesh, a 56-year-old GP, who took part in creative:voices Harrow, our multi-artform programme that enables adult carers to take a creative break from their caring responsibilities, build trusting relationships with their peers, develop skills, and boost their confidence and wellbeing.

Dharmesh opened up about his experience as an adult caregiver for his mother, who was recently diagnosed with early onset dementia.

He shares that each day brings its own set of unique circumstances. “There is not a typical day I have to say and in some ways that’s a blessing and in other ways it’s frightening.”

THE IMPACT OF CARING IN THE UK

One in eight adults in the UK is a carer (Carers UK). The impact of caring goes beyond a commitment of time and energy and many carers experience social isolation and a negative impact on their physical and emotional health. Many are unable to take a break from their caring responsibilities and 42% say that their personal relationships, social lives and leisure time have been restricted.

Create’s projects gives adult carers the opportunity to explore their creativity and self-expression in high quality creative arts workshops led by our professional artists.

DHARMESH’S JOURNEY WITH CREATE

During his journey with Create and navigating becoming an adult caregiver, Dharmesh has discovered the importance of creativity and how it has become a true blessing in his life. Over the past few months, the creative arts workshops have provided him with a much-needed outlet and have become an integral part of his weekly routine.

“I have since realised that creativity gives me so much more and allows me to give so much more as well we go away refreshed rejuvenated with energy and enthusiasm to do our caring.”

DHARMESH, ADULT CARER

For Dharmesh, creativity serves as more than just an escape from the responsibilities of caregiving. Having spent much of his life solely focused on hard work and traditional achievements. “It’s something I do for myself. I give to other people not always been that good at giving to myself. I went through a lot of my life thinking that this was a waste of time because the way I had been brought up was that I just had to work really hard and the achievements had to be either financial or in terms of professional status.” Engaging in creativity not only provides a break from the demands of caregiving but also allows him to give more of himself to both his loved ones and the world. It leaves him revitalized, energised and enthusiasm to face his responsibilities.

REDISCOVERING ROOTS THROUGH CREATIVITY

Creativity has allowed Dharmesh to reminisce on his upbringing in Kenya. “I was born in Kenya grew up in an extended family there was always music and laughter.” He learned the importance to belong to families, communities, and neighbourhoods and sees that Collaborating and engaging in various forms of creativity reinstalls these values. “We are such beautiful unique beings with such imagination and colours and love.”

watch dharmesh’s story

Watch the film to learn more about Dharmesh’s story.

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

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Create wins Children & Young People Now Highly Commended Young Carers Award

Create wins Children & Young People Now Highly Commended Young Carers Award

Last night, Create’s work with young carers was recognised with a prestigious Children & Young People Now Highly Commended award. We were selected – along with category winner Carers in Hertfordshire (congratulations!) from a shortlist of five amazing organisations, and we are delighted to see our work with young carers recognised in this way.

Our Director of Programmes, Kristian Sakulku and I attended the ceremony, an evening that celebrates the work of those working with children, young people and families across the UK. At a time of huge societal challenge, it was so good for our sector to be able to let our hair down for an evening. The event’s celebratory tone was set from the start with a vibrant performance by South London Samba which received rapturous applause. Kristian and I were delighted to see the arts front and centre and the young performers were amazing! The evening was compered by actress, author and former CBeebies presenter, Cerrie Burnell.

Create's inspired:arts project celebrated at the Children & Young People Now Awards

The Children & Young People Now Awards have become the gold standard for everyone working with children, young people and families. Now in their 18th year, these awards are a great source of pride and recognition for all those who strive to improve the lives of others. They raise the profile of projects and initiatives to funders and the general public, and showcase learning and best practice from across the country. Crucially, entrants must be able to provide evidence that what they have done has had a positive impact on young lives. There were more than 500 entries, from which 117 were shortlisted for the 24 awards.

SO WHAT DID WE WIN?

The Young Carers Award for ‘the initiative that has done the most to support children, young people or young adults up to 25 who care for a family member or friend with an illness, disability, mental health problem or addition.’

We were Highly Commended for inspired:arts, the collective name used within the application for our extensive family of young carer programmes:  inspired:arts, art:space, change:matters, community:matters and creative:me, that give young carers a break from their caring responsibilities and enable them to develop new skills and peer support.

Celebrating Create's win at the Children & Young People Now Awards

To have been recognised for our work with young carers (one of seven strands of our work across the UK that uses the creative arts to empower the lives of disadvantaged and vulnerable children and adults), amongst so many other outstanding organisations and individuals, is a real privilege. Knowing that we were selected not only by a panel of 18 adult judges but also by a panel of 10 young judges – placing young people at the centre of the process – was particularly meaningful.

People Need To Create and we are deeply committed to raising awareness of the empowering qualities of engaging in the creative arts. To have been acknowledged with this Children and Young People Now Highly Commended award is a wonderful recognition of the deep commitment to our work with young carers shown by our funders, our dedicated staff team and the inspirational professional artists who deliver our programmes.

To read about our work with young carers, click here.

Nicky Goulder, Founding Chief Executive

artspace Southwark music project

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