Helping young carers

Providing support and raising awareness for the thousands of young carers in Bristol   -  By Emma Bird

By Jess

"Some young carers don’t know they’re young carers cos it’s like the norm for them.

Our original idea was to raise awareness by putting painted benches all across the city, like the Bristol gorilla art project or the one in London with elephants. But we realised it was too big a job to do in the time we had, so we decided to do something smaller but do it with the young carers themselves.

We met Wendy who’s from Bristol Young Carers and also Cenzina who’s from Bristol Black Carers and spoke to them about ‘a day in the life of a young carer’. We wanted to look at things from the young carer’s point of view. That’s when we came up with the name for our project – Making You Aware that Young People Care.

Our Envision mentors helped us with our ideas and helped us to get our project done. It was different, cos with teachers, they treat you like kids, but Envision treat us like adults and like equals.

As an adult, they’re like an authority figure so you have to respect them in a certain way but they were more like relaxed and more like friends. Cos we still got the projects sorted out but it was more relaxed and more fun.

We had lots of challenges. We originally wanted to paint the benches in the park but we couldn’t cos we needed like a permit and a first aider and stuff for like health and safety. We also wanted to stick them in the park but we couldn’t do that as they have to be maintained.

It was annoying to keep hearing no but we just had to keep coming up with new ideas to make it happen. In the end we decided to paint them at the Co-Exist building and the school agreed to let us put them in the playground."

"We went to Bristol Wood Recycling Project and we actually made the benches ourselves. Then we went to Co-Exist and met with some young carers and we painted different designs on each bench. They got to choose the designs.

It was really good. It was fun cos we got to design like four benches of all different designs. We wanted to create different wacky benches. We didn’t want them to be normal because we wanted to represent individuals.

The Bristol Metropolitan Academy Envision Team making benches out of reclaimed woodWe had plaques with our slogan on it ‘Making You Aware that Young People Care’. So people know what the benches are about if they look at them.

It was such an experience. As young carers, we thought they would have been super responsible, like more uptight. But they’re just like normal kids, even though they’re like balancing schools, friends and caring - which is quite difficult.  It just shows how hard it actually is to identify young carers and it’s important to identify them so we can help them. 

To work hard to get your project done, you’ll feel very proud at the end. It’s good to do it because you’re changing the community and making a difference. It’s like having our voices heard through the projects we did and also having that feeling of helping others.

It’s also improved my people skills and also cos we had to work in a team that’s going to be useful for future life, like at work or university. I also learned about presentations at Pitch4Change and will definitely feel more confident about doing them again in the future."