Posted: 15 July 2016

A young carer's view on Henley Festival 2016

It’s July, it’s England and the festival season has started so, of course, it’s raining. But in usual British fashion, we don’t let that stop us, particularly when there’s a festival.

Henley Festival is an annual five-day event that is like no other. It’s a black tie festival, where the men are encouraged to suit up in their dinner jackets and bow-ties and the women get the rare occasion to dress as if they’re heading to a Hollywood premiere. This year the acts were incredible, Elton John and Dame Shirley Bassey just to name a couple!

For the next three years, Henley Festival are supporting Young Carers with the Children’s Society, and 2016’s Festival featured The Hidden Exhibition – a selection of portraits taken by Max Alexander that tell the story of young carers from all over the country. I’ve seen it a few times now, but it was amazing to be able to see and hear other people’s reactions to something they may not have realised or heard about before.

Another part of the partnership this year included the chance for some young carers to attend the festival on Family Sunday (which was the only time the dress code was relaxed) and shadow some people who worked there. I was lucky enough to shadow the people in the press office.

Melissa, a young carer, at Henley Festival 2016

As a young carer, it was an incredible opportunity, but because I’m doing journalism at university it was even more so. During the day I learned what was involved when working in a press office at a festival and even got to do some work myself.

After being introduced to everyone I checked in the journalists and press for the day, making sure their questions were answered and everyone had a good day and went around the festival, looking at and taking photos of everything they had to offer. But, of course, the best part was that I had the chance to take over the Henley Festival twitter and let everyone know what was going on.

It was obvious that they went above and beyond to make sure each child had an amazing time with acts like beatboxer Shlomo and disgusting songs for horrible kids, which seemed to be one of the favourites. The Children’s Society area even had their very own photo booth which proved to be popular and there was a dance floor for the babies to get their groove on.

Before I knew it, the day was over and it was time for me to head home, but not before I managed to hear the start of Will Young’s soundcheck!

I would like to thank Henley Festival, Midas PR who I was working with, and everyone who helped make this happen. Not only are they helping raise awareness of young carers, it’s a unique opportunity where I know learned things I’ll use in my future career.

I’m already looking forward to hearing about it next year!

By Melissa Moody

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