A story by Feis Rois
Connect.Curate.Create engaged 13 young carers aged 12 – 16 from across the Highland Council region in 5 residential weekend breaks where they had the opportunity to take part in a range of different art form activities and explore the creative industries.
What Connect.Curate.Create did
Connect.Curate.Create delivered 5 weekend breaks for a total of 13 young carers. These took place in, Inverness, 24th - 26th November 2017, Beauly, 19th - 21st January 2018, Lybster, 16th - 18th March 2018, Skye, 18th - 20th May 2018 and Fort William, 27th - 19th July 2018
The activities delivered, included participatory workshops led by professional artists in film making, composition, sound recording, print making, engraving, screen printing, 3D printing, contemporary dance and drama. The workshops were led by artists from some of Scotland's most experienced youth arts and professional companies including, Eden Court Theatre, Fèis Rois, Fèisean nan Gàidheal, Highland Print Studio, Moniaclk Mhòr, North Lands Glass, Room 13 and Skye Dance.
In addition to the participatory workshops, young people also had the opportunity to, document the project with an experienced film maker, attend a film screening at the Aros Centre, Skye.
An important part of the project was the social experience of cooking and having meals together, and participating in informal activities outside of the creative programme, including sledging, bowling and going to the cinema.
We originally anticipated that 10 young people would participate in this project. However, we engaged a total of 13 young carers. They were identified through our partner organisation Connecting Carers who put out an open call to their clients and partner organisations in Caithness, Sutherland and Skye & Lochalsh.
This project was devised with young carers in response to conversations with them about the limited access they felt they had to creative activity in their communities. The project was successful in enabling young people to find out more about opportunities in their area to engage in the creative industries and to develop new skills in the arts.
The project addressed the Creative Breaks priority areas, carers and the people they care for will have improved well-being
cares will have more opportunities to enjoy life outside of their caring role and carers will feel better supported to sustain their caring role. We feel the project was a success overall.
What Feis Rois has learned
The project has enabled Fèis Rois and the Highland Youth Arts Hub to target families most in need of support and widen our reach with vulnerable groups in the Highlands. We have also developed our partnership working with Connecting Young Carers.
It has also enabled us to pilot new ways of working through delivering cross art form activity in informal short break settings. This is the first time that Highland Youth Arts Hub consortium partners have collaborated in this way.
How Feis Rois has benefitted from the funding
The Short Breaks Fund helped Fèis Rois and the Highland Youth Arts Hub to pilot a new service for young carers living in the Highlands. Collaboratively, we have expanded our services to a new group and developed new partnerships with organisations supporting young carers across our region.
10 young carers from across Highland will have established a new peer support network, 10 young carers will gain confidence through gaining new practical and creative skills, from organisation to film-making, 10 young carers will feel pride and accomplishment through producing a tangible product
More than 10 young carers from across Highland established a new peer support network as 13 young people took part in the project. Following the project, 75% of participants felt they were more confident when meeting new people, on completion of the project, 50% of young people reported that they felt they had increased confidence when trying new activities. The pride and accomplishment is evidenced by the direct quotes from participants, "My time in the project was exciting because I met new people and did new things that I don't do much of or have never done before ." "In this project I have done drama, dance, art and screen printing. I enjoyed it a lot and the people there made it even better. This project has given me new opportunities to do things."
One young carer, aged 14, had been experienced bullying and low self-esteem at school, we were particularly keen to include her in the project as she had shown previous interest in drama. She was extremely nervous attending the first residential and meeting new peers. We were delighted that she participated in all five creative breaks and it was evident to the staff that her confidence grew throughout the project. Now that the project has finished, we have been able to support her to continue to develop her skills in drama. "It was an amazing opportunity and I'm glad I went through it. I really enjoyed the people and activities, and made some awesome memories."
10 young carers will have participated in a year long programme of residential weekends, have a better understanding and awareness of the creative activity they are able to access and have undertaken one to one creative skills development have established relationships with arts providers for future activity.
A year long programme of 5 weekend breaks was successfully delivered, 13 young people have a better awareness of the wide range of creative activity available to them in the Highlands with 8 of the 13 participants showing an interest in taking part in regular creative activity beyond this project. For example, 2 have expressed an interest in furthering their skills in photography, 2 in drama, 3 in music and one in computer design. 13 young people took part in a wide range of group and one-to-one activities that allowed them to develop their skills in not only the arts and creativity, but also in life skills, including listening. By the end of the project 88% of participants felt they had improved their ability to listen to respond to one in other. In terms of enjoying life outside their caring role, one young person said: "My time was great, made new friends, learnt new things, great to get a break every now and then."
A young carer, aged 16, from Sutherland expressed an interest in developing her skills in photography. She had the opportunity to take a leadership role on the project by documenting the breaks. As part of the legacy of this project, she has been able to purchase equipment (a camera) to enable her to continue with this hobby which allows her to enjoy life outside of her caring role.
10 young carers from across Highland will have established a new peer support network, be more aware of creative opportunities that will enable them to have a more balanced approach to caring and respite, have participated in a structured timetable of activity that enabled them to forward plan.
13 young people took part in the timetabled activity where they met new friends and established a new peer support network. A young carer said: "My time on the project has been amazing. I have met so many new people who have turned into close friends for life. My confidence has grown and so has my socialising with other people."
Prior to the start of the project, a parent had highlighted to a member of staff at Connecting Carers that they felt their child used to be confident and outgoing, but had recently become withdrawn and introverted. We could see this young person's confidence grow throughout the project and the family have now told us that she is continuing to meet up and socialise with peers she met through Connect. Curate.Create. This young person has also now volunteered to take on an Ambassador role withing Connecting Young Carers. She said: "I feel like I had fun, the people I met were nice, I liked the places we stayed and I also liked the banter!"