There 2 Care: The Voice of Young Carers
Frame from animation film showing character in the park, sitting on a bench and playing a guitar
Original format: HD video (16.9)
Year of release: 2008
Running time: 5 minutes
Credits: a collaboration between Stuart Moore and Kayla Parker, and children and young people, and young carer workers Helen Yeo, Jasmin Mitchell, Nicky Walling and Laura Brown at The Zone, Plymouth
Thanks to: Dr Roger Morgan, OBE, Children's Rights Director for England; and University of Plymouth
Production: Sundog Media
Screening format: DVD distribution
Commissioned by Plymouth Children's Services, Plymouth City Council
Distribution and sales: Plymouth City Council

DVD created in collaboration with young people who care for members of their family; young carer workers at The Zone, Plymouth; Stuart Moore and Sundog Media. The DVD features a short animated film There 2 Care: The Voice of Young Carers in which the two main characters, twins Sharpay and Sharpaina – one sister cares for the other sister who is physically disabled and uses a wheelchair - are seen making a documentary, interviewing and filming different young carers about their personal experiences, fears, hopes, and advice for other children in similar circumstances.

“Ever wondered what it's like to be a young carer? This short film explores all aspects of being a young carer, from the jobs they do, to what they worry about. This film is as honest as they get, because a group of young carers helped to make it.”
(Sharpay, young carer, 10 years old)

What the young carers say in the film:

“I never feel that I am a 10 year old girl.”
“Because my brother’s disabled, my mum and dad put loads of pressure on me to do well at school.”
“I wish dragons were real, so they could eat up all the bullies.”
still from animation film of scene with 3 bullies threatening ChloeThe DVD is a training tool for healthcare professionals, teachers and children and aims to raise awareness about young carers. Young carers are children who have to look after members of their family, because a parent is ill, has had an accident or is disabled, or cannot be the head of the family for other reasons. A young carer takes on the responsibilities for their family, often in very difficult circumstances, and ensures that siblings and parents are fed, that the home is cleaned, that bills and rent are paid; and, in many cases, young carers are responsible for administering prescribed medicines and other medical needs. A young carer does all this as well as studying at school, and, typically, has little or no time for simply ‘being a child’, playing, or focusing on their own needs.

Production notes
To make the DVD we set up an animation studio at The Zone on Union Street Plymouth where The Young Carers Project is based. Using a combination of lo-tech coloured modeling clay animation and high-tech computer-based technology, the young carers came up with the characters, and their character’s name, the animation sequences, and recounted their personal stories - and they composed and recorded a catchy song There 2 Care: The Voice of Young Carers, which became the title of the DVD.

We were working with extremely sensitive subject matter, and recording the testimony of children who are already vulnerable and subjected to discrimination because they care for their families: the children said that bullying at school and a lack of understanding by their teachers were key causes of distress to them.

Ensuring confidentiality was of utmost importance. We worked closely with the care workers to formulate a thorough risk assessment and put in place a comprehensive ethical protocol for the project to ensure that the Every Child Matters agenda was addressed fully. To protect the children's identities and ensure confidentiality, the film represents the experiences of several young carers and does not depict the circumstances of any one individual. We treated the young carers as our equals throughout, and discussed the progress of the production at every stage so that it would truly represent ‘their voice’.

At the first meeting, we explained that their contributions would be anonymous in order to protect them and their families; but so that they could be credited on the DVD, we suggested that each child chose a ‘super-cool nickname’ for themself, which only they would know. Our approach ensured that the animation and DVD is as close as possible to the young carers’ perspective and experience, and ensures that the children have ownership of their film.

There 2 Care: The Voice of Young Carers was made with: Where's Lunch? Productions - Chloe, Pancake God, Ginger, Sir, KJ and Missy; and Guide Dog Productions - Trigger, Coolchick, Sporty, Koolgirl and Ronaldo’s l'il Princess.

During this project we worked with Sue Brain, a very experienced manager of research projects involving children and issues such as abuse and prostitution. During the production of There 2 Care, Sue was the Director of the Young Carers Project and we’re grateful for her commitment, expertise and indepth knowledge and understanding: she enabled the risk assessment to be a collaborative process which considered the effect of the project on all participants, children and adults, including its impact in the future.

It was Sue’s idea to contact Dr Roger Morgan and invite him to say a few words as an introduction to the animation. We arranged to meet him when he came to give a speech at the Safeguarding Children’s Rights conference at Plymouth University in March 2008, and filmed an interview with him in a quiet corner of the Sherwell Centre during his lunch break..

Publication and comments
Winner of the Media Innovation Award 2009: Collaboration between Business and Young People
. The winner was announced at a gala award ceremony at the Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol on Thursday evening 12th March 2009. There 2 Care was praised by the judges for its “amazing animation”, and beat stiff competition from the other finalists ‘Young Motion Plymouth’ and Watershed Media Centre’s ‘Electric December’. To watch Helen Yeo, Jasmin Mitchell, and young carer workers from the Plymouth Young Carers Project, accept the MIA on our behalf at the awards ceremony in Bristol, go to Collaboration (page 2) on Silverstream TV: Channel: MIA 2009 Awards
The hidden carers in today’s society by Laura Brown, ESCalate Education Subject Centre Summer Newsletter 2008; Higher Education Academy: “an important educational resource for teachers, teacher educators and student teachers who want to come to a better understanding of the lives of Young Carers and how best to support them.” (21 July 2008) p. 2

There 2 Care from Sundog Media on Vimeo.

The DVD was premiered during Carers Week in June 2008, and then 500 DVDs were distributed to schools and healthcare professionals across the south west, with the aim of improving things for young carers and making a difference.