Who Cares Promo©The Other Richard

Who Cares, a verbatim play about Salford young carers will see its final showcasing at The Lowry this November. 

The drama, which was co-produced by The Lowry and LUNG Theatre, has been touring the UK since the Who Cares campaign launched in 2016. 

It focuses on three teenagers trying to balance family care during austerity with their education, including input from politicians and campaigners.  

Who Cares Cast, Credit: The Other Richard

Matthew Woodhead, aged 28 from Barnsley, wrote the play after weekly discussions and workshops with four Salford Young Carers. 

Mr Woodhead said: “The biggest drive and fire for me in this production has just been these young people and their voices.  

“The stories are obviously incredibly hard hitting but also there’s so much joy in there as well. 

“There’s so much light and drama of being a teenager and it’s relatable.” 

A young carer is anyone aged 17 or younger who has unpaid caring responsibilities for a family member who has an addiction, disability or illness.  

The youngest carer in Salford is four years old. 

Ciaron, Salford Young Carer receiving Heart of Salford Award, Credit: Salford CVSCiaron from Salford was involved with scriptwriting and casting for the play.  

Him and his sister look after his mum who has mental and physical disabilities.  

This involves tracking medication and providing emotional support alongside household tasks like cooking and cleaning.  

It was only when filling a questionnaire at highschool that he realised he was a young carer. 

Ciaron said: “I didn’t know that was a thing until that point.”   

Matthew Woodhead expressed how common this is. 

He said: “A huge amount of young carers in this country are hidden so they’re caring behind closed doors without any support from outside agencies.” 

Through the campaign Ciaron has gained a great support network and has even spoken in the House of Lords about the national identification of young carers and disability benefit reform. 

He said: “It’s just overall given me a better view of the world really and it’s made me more comfortable with it.”    

Ciaron and Matthew Woodhead wish to debunk the negative stigma of young carers. 

Ciaron said: “A lot of my experiences being isolated were in primary school and there is a horrible representation still now of young carers in primary school.” 

Despite the play no longer being shown in theatres after this year, Who Cares will be made into a DVD for schools. 

Continual Professional Development training will also be offered to the public at the Lowry on Mondays, in an attempt to encourage the identification and understanding of young carers. 

Mr Woodhead said: “We’re always looking at using theatre as a tool and as a way to amplify hidden voices and also work collaboratively with different groups to get a message out that isn’t necessarily being covered in the mainstream media or other outlets.” 

To describe the play in one sentence he said, “Explosive, searing, eye-opening verbatim play about young carers.”   

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