In December 2017, LUNG theatre completed their national tour of ‘Who Cares?,’ a gripping piece of verbatim theatre which gives a rare insight into the lives of three young carers. It was commissioned by the Lowry and Salford Young Carers Service. The tour included performances at seven Aldridge schools, from Lancashire to Brighton, and culminated in a performance to MPs at the House of Lords in London.
This piece of documentary theatre aims to help identify ‘hidden’ young carers in society and signpost them to support available through local young carers services, who were present at each performance to offer support and information.
Verbatim theatre is constructed from the precise words spoken by interviewees on a certain topic; in this case it was real-life young carers from Salford. They wanted more people to understand what it’s like day-to-day as a young carer and by sharing their lives with this innovative theatre company, they have become a voice for young carers throughout the U.K.
The story reflects the diversity of caring roles that young people undertake. It centres around Nicole, who has been a carer for her mother since the age of four, Connor whose mum struggles with bipolar and depression, and Jade who has been a carer for her father since he was paralysed in a motorcycle accident.
During the performance, each actor spoke directly to the audience in order to tell their stories and describe their everyday challenges. They engaged their audiences with heartbreaking true stories which had echoes of familiarity for some and proved eye-opening for many others.
For our students, the performance succeeded in its aim to start conversations and raise awareness. Some students spoke out about how the performance had impacted their understanding of the gravitas of their caring responsibilities on their daily lives and others described how the stories had brought to their attention the complex situations that other young people were in.
“Who Cares has been an amazing opportunity to help raise awareness and understanding of young carers and some of the issues they face. The show may be able to help identify other young people with caring responsibilities and get them the support that they need.” – Paige, one of the real-life carers
Young carers, children and young people under the age of 18, look after parents or siblings with a disability, a physical or mental illness or a drug or alcohol dependency. Although official UK figures put the number of young carers in the U.K. at around 166,000 it is thought that 70% of young carers are ‘hidden’, meaning that the real number could be nearer 700,000. By using theatre to raise awareness, LUNG hope it will help identify and reach more young-carers and provide them with much needed support.
If you would like to find out more information about your local young-carers service please click here.