Young carers in Milton Keynes perform street dance for shoppers

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Over the bank holiday, young carers in Milton Keynes 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, which is delivered with Kingston Centre, is for young people aged 10-16 who attend Young Carers Milton Keynes.

During school holidays throughout the year, the young carers collaborate on artwork in a variety of art forms, guided by Create’s professional artists.

Last week, they created original dance pieces with dancer Beth Coleman.

During the summer half term, the young carers will make jewellery with artist Deborah Besana, and they will explore visual art in August with artist Jenny Leonard.

This range of activities will allow the young people to develop a variety of interconnected artistic and technical skills, 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.

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, build confidence and create peer-support networks.

The dance workshops culminated in a performance at Kingston Centre, whilst the visual art portion of the programme will end in an unveiling on August 3.

Such opportunities to share their creative work serve to strengthen the young carers’ self-esteem 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.

“Our art:space projects offer an environment for self-expression, socialising, building confidence and having fun. I’m looking forward to seeing the results of their collaborative work!”

Centre Manager at Kingston Centre Karen Clayton added: “It was lovely to see how the young carers grew in confidence during the workshops and the pleasure they gained from seeing that they could achieve something.

“I saw them break out into big smiles that they just couldn’t contain.”