Salford Carers Centre and The Lowry Theatre are teaming together for a national tour, ‘Who Cares’ to highlight the lives of young carers.

In just two weeks, rehearsals will start for local theatre associate LUNG Theatre‘s production of ‘Who Cares’, a show that follows the lives of four young carers living in Salford. Taking place over a school day, the show exposes and explains the different problems young carers face on a day-to-day basis.

‘Who Cares‘ has been produced in partnership with Salford Carers Centre and The Lowry Theatre to spread awareness of the issues faced by these young adults and to provide a platform to express themselves.

 

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Salford Carers Centre defines a ‘young carer’ as someone who provides unpaid care and support for a friend or family member, who has become dependent on them due to a disability, mental health problems long term illness, or substance misuse.

Based at the Gaddum Centre, the organisation provides personal support, services and social opportunities for young carers in the Salford area. However, the centre reached out to LUNG Theatre in order to create a new way of spreading awareness.

Matt Woodhead, the writer and director of the show, said: “The Lowry and Salford Young Carers service have a really strong relationship. They’re always interested in finding ways in which they can use arts projects as a way for raising more awareness about young carers and giving young carers the opportunity to express themselves through theatre projects and different kind of art forms”.

The show was born in 2016, after two years working with four Salford young carers. 

“It was an entirely interview-based process,” said Matt. “We spoke about what it’s like to be a young carer and what it meant to be a young carer for them.”

The interviews were then typed up to form the text of the show, with the four interviewees also providing input for the casting, the design process and the costumes, and even had their own songs included in the show.

“It’s kind of using theatre as a way of amplifying their voices” said Matt.

After ‘Who Cares’ premiered at The Lowry Theatre in 2016, Lung Theatre decided the next step was to take the show on tour across the country. Matt said: “We’ve kind of tapped into Salford already, so we want to be doing everything we can to pull our resources together to tackle the problem more nationally”.

The show toured around the North West, performing in schools and youth centres, and soon became a tool used to identify young carers in the area. Matt said: “We found that there were a lot of children that didn’t even realise they were young carers, and we identified 21 in total.” The show then provided support and aftercare for the children, putting on workshops and therapy training sessions for both the students and the teachers.

So what’s the aim? The production was written not only to help the young carers express their feelings through art, but also to help the public understand that these young adults are just like any other teenager.

“There’s a phrase that the young carers in Salford have developed which is ‘we’re not different, we just do different things’,” said Matt. “I think its really eye opening to listen to the lives of the young carers, but it’s also really important to understand that they are absolutely just like everybody else their age; they still worry about all of those things that you worry about when you’re a teenager, they just also look after a parent as well.”

Matt Woodward explains more here:

Rehearsals for the show will last three weeks, then the tour starts off in Kent at Folkestone Quarterhouse. It will then travel to the Action Transport Theatre in Merseyside, Rosehill Theatre in Cumbria, CAST in Doncaster and will finish at Arts Depot in London, with a public performance in each show.

Matt said: “We’re hoping that we’re going to be learning loads ourselves. It’s really exciting to be meeting all of these new venues and seeing how they help their young carers, but also sharing practice and sharing information about how we can do more to support young carers in the arts.”

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