During the summer holidays, young carers in Bath participated in a multi-arts project run by award-winning charity Create, designed to give them creative and social time away from their caring responsibilities.
Part of Create’s national art:space programme, the project took place at SouthGate, Bath, with the support of the on-site team and with funding from joint landlord, British Land. The young people participating were aged between five and 24 and registered as young carers with Carers’ Centre Bath and North East Somerset.
Throughout the summer, the participants explored three art forms with Create’s professional visual artists: in late August, they made sculptures with Sheridan Quigley, having made a mural with Jenny Leonard and photo collages with Jack Cornell earlier in the summer. The art produced during all three parts of the project was inspired by the theme ‘secret garden’. This range of activities encouraged the young carers to develop a variety of interconnected artistic and technical skills aimed at boosting their self-esteem.
There are over 700,000 young carers in Britain who on average take on 17 hours of caring responsibilities per week. Some care for more than 50 hours each week. School holidays can be a difficult time for young carers. For many, without school’s daily routine, increased time at home equates to an increase in time caring for a relative.
The Department of Education’s February 2016 Report ‘The Lives of Young Carers in England’ states: “Holidays were particularly challenging for most young carers due to an increase in their caring responsibilities at home and the lack of opportunity to take breaks to engage in other activities both inside and outside the home.” The research demonstrated how “breaks from caring were seen positively by young carers as opportunities to relax and de-stress, enabling them to return to caring responsibilities feeling refreshed. Young carers who had experience of young carers projects, outings and respite holidays were typically very positive about such opportunities to take a break away from home and to meet others in similar situations.”
Create’s art:space programme develops an environment in which both creative and social skills can be nurtured and young carers are able to come together to channel their creativity collectively. By working together the young people develop their communication skills and create peer-support networks. Each series of workshops culminates in a sharing on the last day of the project – in Bath, an exhibition day took place at SouthGate showcasing the art work produced during all three parts of the project on 24 August. The opportunity to share their work helps to strengthen the young carers’ confidence and the supportive relationships developed during the programme.
Create’s Co-Founder & Chief Executive, Nicky Goulder, said: “Participating in creative activities is a great way of expressing yourself and socialising. School holidays can be a period of heightened responsibility for young carers and it’s important for wellbeing that respite is found away from their duties as carers. Thanks to our partnership with British Land, our art:space programme offers an environment for self-expression, socialising, building confidence and having fun. I’ve loved seeing the results of their collaborative work!”
Centre Manager at SouthGate, Guy Henderson, said: “It is a pleasure to be involved with art:space again this year; it’s a fantastic programme helping young carers improve their self-esteem and confidence. It’s a joy to see all the hard work they put in to the workshops and we very much enjoyed this year’s exhibition.”
A young carer who took part in the project said: “It has helped me to show off my creative skills and let my mind run wild.”