Helping Young Carers Find Their Voice

Being a carer is one of the most important roles we will ever take on in life – and also one of the most challenging.

That is particularly true for members of the country’s growing army of young carers who have to juggle looking after a loved one with their education.

Keen to offer some support to local carers, Harrogate College has been running a series of free performing arts workshops designed to boost their confidence.

Performing Arts tutor Robin Burch has just completed four sessions with five teenagers which ended with them each giving short performances to the group.

Teaching Confidence

Robin, who was assisted by Student Relations Officer Megan Hawkswell and one of his students, Katie Romilly, said: “Teaching confidence is a challenging task.

“You have a series of exercises and activities to develop trust, communication and sharing, but it is a continual process of adaptation all the time, to each activity.

“The tutor has to develop the relationship with each individual student and demonstrate what confidence looks like themselves.

“Sensitivity to each student’s needs is especially important when we share feedback.”

The activities were designed to build trust and confidence and get the participants comfortable with communicating with each other.

Megan said: “The young carers particularly enjoyed the excuse to do some singing and shouting while working on voice projection.

“During the workshop series they got noticeably more confident and by the end were confidently speaking in front of the group.”

A Chance to Help

Harrogate College’s Performance and Projects Coordinator, Holly Hansen-Maughan, added: “This was a perfect example of the college serving its community.

“We appreciate our ability to help people.”

Unseen Sacrifices

There are currently an estimated 800,000 carers aged between five and 17 in the UK. Each is involved in regularly caring for a family member or friend by taking on all kinds of extra responsibilities including cooking, cleaning, shopping and collecting prescriptions.

The pressure on them is often immense and one in three have a mental health issue – while 27 per cent of those aged between 11 and 15 are missing school.

The Children’s Society, on the Facts About Young Carers section of its website, says: “Having to care for someone can often mean missing school or having to bail on friends.

“It can put their childhood on the back burner. Many young carers, and the people around them, don’t even realise they’re carers.”

Further Support

This year’s Carers Week, an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring and the daily challenges unpaid cares face, takes place from Monday, June 7 to Sunday, June 13.

Carers Leeds will be holding a number of events during the week.