At the deep end: Young carers and media training
In my first week working for The Children’s Society as part of the Young Carers in Focus (YCiF) programme I was fortunate enough to attend an event run by one of our partners – DigitalME – to help run a session teaching the young carers how to create professional-quality posters and leaflets for their own needs.
The whole event had so much on offer, including sessions on topics ranging from interview techniques, producing storyboards for short films, and lessons in photography.Having been a young carer myself, I was excited to be working on YCiF and looking forward to meeting some of the young carers champions.
All the participants were so eager and willing to learn even the simplest of tools to help them spread awareness for young carers like themselves.
I was surprised at the difference from what I was expecting. The group was eager, happy and outgoing, spurred on to make a difference and to alleviate the suffering of others.
Furthermore, rather than focussing on the negative aspects of being a young carer, they were quick to correct the tone of the images in our examples. They were well aware of the tone of these posters, and how they might influence people’s perceptions.
The knowledge and understanding demonstrated by these capable young minds was already becoming apparent - they were already thinking about how they would approach things in a different way, and rightly so.
From their perspectives being a carer isn’t only doom and gloom - how could it be? The cause and main driving force of their situation is the love and care that they have for their families. Caring brings you closer to your family in a way like no other.
If all they were able to focus on were the purely negative aspects of their situation then it would be impossible for them to function as people, with the weight of the world on their shoulders. To have the strength and courage to realise this, and to be so eager to point it out to others is very admirable.
Realising the magnitude of the problem
However, in spite of all the strength, courage and pride that all these young people exhibited, I could also see vulnerability. Flippant comments made as an aside to the conversation revealed small insights into their lives.
Champions may be an excellent example of how a positive change can yield huge benefits, and of the progress that the YCiF programme is making but they also make you realise the magnitude of the problem, and work that still needs to be done. There are people we still need to reach, people who haven’t had the opportunities that we have.
Census data may have revealed that there are more than 166,000 young carers in England, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. Culture, fear of social stigmatisation or being taken into care, and the failure of social institutions are all factors that have 'hidden' so many from view. There may be many people that we have yet to reach, but just being able to see what we can offer to those we have, and in turn, what they can offer other young carers is heart-warming.
Learn more about Young Carers in Focus
Find out more about young carers, and the special media weekend by visiting the YCiF website.