Young Carers Action Day 2022: Meet Esme
During February 2022, our professional artist Adele Watts led photography workshops with young carers in Surrey as part of our Young Carers Action Day (YCAD) programme, which culminated in an online showcase on 16 March.
This year’s theme for YCAD is “taking action on isolation”. In a survey of young and young adult carers by Carers Trust, at least a third of respondents said their caring role resulted in them either ‘always’ or ‘usually’ feeling ‘worried’ (36%), ‘lonely’ (33%) or ‘stressed’ (42%).
The Create workshops, part of our award-winning inspired:arts programme, were specifically designed to tackle these feelings of isolation by giving young carers the chance to develop their creative and social skills, build their confidence, meet other young carers, and express themselves.
Young carer Esme talked to us about her experiences.
“These projects help me not to focus on stuff that’s happening at home. It makes me feel free from all the responsibility. It also helps me escape reality.”Esme, Young Carer
“I care for my mum because she has mental health issues. When I was younger she used to have really bad mental health. She shouted, screamed, cried a lot and used to throw stuff. Not glass but plastic stuff or pillows, she used to throw them across the room and get really emotional really fast. But now she’s gotten a lot better, she doesn’t cry as much. She still does get angry and shouts quite a lot.
“I think I was a toddler when she started having these problems, because I remember being downstairs in our old house and I could hear my mum and dad fighting. I was confused about what was going on. We used to go up to my nan’s a lot when my parents would fight. They’d make lunch for us until things quietened down, and then we could go home.
“Being creative with other people is great because they help you see different things”
“At the Create project today, the subject was wellbeing, and we were taking photos of things that made us feel calm and nice. We had a look outside and took some pictures of herons and birds and plants and loads of trees, wildlife and ducks. Some people took pictures of dogs. Some people did illusions where it looked like you were holding something and it looked bigger.
“I’ve enjoyed making new friends, having fun and taking pictures. The project made me feel happy. At first I was nervous because I didn’t know everyone, and then I started getting the hang of it and it was really fun. Being creative with other people is great because they can help you see different things. If you don’t see a cool photo to take, they can help you see it.
Above: watch a slideshow of the images taken by the young carers from Surrey, set to music written and performed by young carers from Wales
“Some people put raindrops on their pictures, so you know they’re feeling sad”
“I learnt a lot about myself on the project. I’ve learnt that I really like taking photos, and also that I’m really good at making friends. People tell me that, but I didn’t think it was true, I thought I chatted them to death. But I realised I don’t actually do that, we just talk and then realise we like the same stuff and we both have the same feelings.
“I get the chance to be creative after school quite a lot. Sometimes I’ll search up images to draw or paint. I used to do lots of painting and I painted this girl with blue and green strands of hair, it was really cool.
“I think it’s important to get the chance to be creative because you can express your feelings in just one picture. Some people put raindrops on their pictures, so you know they’re outside or they’re feeling really sad. Sometimes they have thunderclouds, or the sun if they’re feeling happy, or lightning if they’re feeling worried. I think lightning and thunder can really show how they’re feeling. When it’s thundering and lightning outside the sky has got its emotions out.
“I have skills that other young people might not have”
“Being a young carer can affect my schoolwork. My brother usually helps me with maths but he’s at college most of the time, so I struggle. However, as a young carer, I have skills that other young people might not have. I can rush about faster and if my mum needs me to do something she can’t do, then I just do it straight away. My mum also has a bad lung so she gets out of breath easily, just going up the stairs. We often have to get her a glass of water or something to eat.
“I don’t really think about the future because I’m focusing on the present. You don’t know what’s going to come the next day. My mum says she’s fine, but I know she’s not because she can’t breathe most of the time going up the stairs. These projects help me not to focus on stuff that’s happening at home. It makes me feel free from all the responsibility. It also helps me escape reality. It’s like reading, when you doze off in a nice read.”
This project was delivered in partnership with Carers Trust.