Author of this article: Andy McGowan
In the first week of Easter my young carers group, Centre 33, hosted the Hidden exhibition in Cambridgeshire. Hidden is the name of the exhibition which shows lots of pictures of different young carers with a small description of what they feel being a young carer is like and about. In the exhibition there are around about 21 different large photographs.
The photographer who took all of these amazing photos was a young carer and then got into photography. In the exhibition there are lots of children but also a few famous celebrities who you probably would have no idea about. One of these people is Richard McCourt more commonly known as the actor and presenter Dick from Dick and Dom. On his plaque with his photograph it reads ‘young carers need support and to try and continue living their own lives’. This is a really powerful thing to say and is very much true. Some young carers become so accustomed to caring for their family members that they end up putting everyone else first. With more support I think young carers will be able to go and live separate lives from their caring responsibilities. Another famous woman in the exhibition is radio and presenter Jo Whiley. On her plaque it reads ‘it’s normal to love the person you care for, but also feel cross with them’. I cannot begin to say how true this is. Many young carers feel ashamed of themselves when they lose their temper with the person they care for but they shouldn’t feel bad about it. They have to cope with so much stress and just with a little bit of support many young carers will be able to feel not so alone.
Centre 33 first hosted the amazing event at St Johns College in Cambridge for the start of the week. The local television company came and interviewed some of us and I was able to get interviewed live on the radio. Some of the questions we were asked were things like what a typical day is like for us and about what this exhibition means to us. For me this incredible exhibition is not only about getting people aware that there are young carers like myself out there but also it’s a way so that more people can think, “hold on, wait a minute I think I might actually be a young carer myself”
Different young carers have to cope with different scenarios so it is near enough impossible to put a label on us. Some of us provide physical support but the majority of young carers provide emotional support. They could be caring for a sibling or parent or even grandparents. The main problem young carers have is the fact that not enough people are aware of our situations. This means that schools don’t show any support for us but by having this exhibition we are hoping to change that.
At the end of the week Centre 33 hosted the exhibition in the large, quite famous Ely Cathedral. Many people showed up to look around and many of these people came and spoke about some of their own experiences. The entire event has interested so many people of different nationality’s and ages.
A lot of the people who have visited this exhibition at Ely have mentioned how good the pictures are and many have commented about their favourite one. Each picture manages to capture the young carer as being the carer but also some of them show their aspirations for the future. One girl wants to go into law so the photographer has chosen to take her picture whilst standing outside a law court. This picture shows what the young girl aspires to be whilst also showing the fact that she cares for her mum. She is holding a picture of her mum and looks happy. Each photograph taken shows a slightly different emotion e.g. some show happy young carers whilst others show slightly sadder and troubled young carers. Each photograph indicates some of the responsibilities we have to do. Some just show the carer whilst others show them with the person they care for. The one that many have mentioned about in the comments shows a young girl sat at a drum kit. She is smiling and looks quite happy. In the background however there is a mirror with her reflection and her brother’s reflection in. This is quite a powerful image with a lot of information in – the first thing you see is this happy little girl sat with her drum kit but then you look at the picture more and notice the reflection in the background.
The event itself has managed to influence loads of different people young and old to look around them and to see that there are young carers out there who need your help and support and to make people realise that we are not invisible if only people were to stop and listen to us. Over the course of four hours we managed to have around about 250 different people come and look around at the photographs which is simply incredible. It just goes to show that the community is interested in young carers but don’t currently have all the information in order for them to make a stand. This is where young carers in focus and this exhibition come in. YCiF is all about making more people aware of young carers. This exhibition is also about giving people a realisation about young carers. We are not all the same and we all have to cope with different situations. Some do more physical caring whilst others provide emotional care and support. Many young carers don’t speak much to their friends or other people about their situation and even more don’t actually realise they are a young carer. Therefore this entire exhibition is a great idea where young carers can benefit from having a lot more support from both their friends and the community.
Hidden Exhibition – Comments
“Very vivid, emotional pictures that makes you think what it is like for a young carer”. Jane
“Good idea to show photos and stories. Eye opening. This is a wonderful exhibition – young carers are sadly very invisible & this is such an excellent way of reminding us of all they do. Thank you”. Heather.
“This is very touching and made me realise for the first time that I was a ‘carer’ myself”. Ella
“Very good, young carers need more recognition”. Mark
“I had goose bumps when looking at these powerful images and the young people’s comments”. Carolin
“We think this is a great initiative and a wonderful way to bring this into the public eye!
Congratulations!” Meela and Serhard
“Very breath-taking, very rewarding”. Jamie
“Beautiful faces – amazing bravery”. Jamie
“Very thought-provoking – such valuable work being done”. Sabina
“Stunning images with emotions portrayed in a moving way”. Jenny