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A Young Carer is a child or young person under 18 years who helps to look after a person who has a disability, mental health condition, illness, or an addiction. Young Adult Carers are aged between 19 and 25 years.

Helping may be a normal part of growing up, however, this group of young people regularly carry out substantial caring tasks and assume a level of responsibility which would normally be associated with an adult.

The exhibition ‘Through the eyes of a Young Carer’ captured the experiences of many of the young carers in touch with Warrington Young Carers Centre and is explored using photography, poetry and artwork.

Fiona Jenkins, Young Carer Co-ordinator and Linda Cassidy, Young Adult Carer Transition worker along with their colleague, Norma Jageila from Wired-Warrington Young Carers Centre, displayed the art work and delivered a short presentation which was enjoyed by staff and students including Social Work and Nursing students.

Fiona said: “The aim of this exhibition is to raise the profile of young and young adult carers - through the use of art, photography, poetry and lived experience carers bravely expressed their inner most thoughts and feelings in therapeutic way.”

Norma and Linda both agreed. They said: “The work expresses the challenges that carers face in trying to keep mentally fit and healthy on a daily basis, the exhibition celebrates the positive experiences and their resilience to cope with the added pressure and responsibilities that go with being a Young/Young Adult Carer.”

The importance of care giving is recognised by Dr Valerie Gant, who is Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University’s Warrington Campus. She said the exhibition offered self portraits by many Young Carers of how the world sees them. Although the exhibition focuses on young carers, Valerie said: “Caring responsibilities are likely to affect everyone at some point in their lives.

“I encourage anyone with caring responsibilities to find support networks through their work, a local carers centre or socially as it can make such a huge difference.”

Dr Gant runs the University’s staff carers network to support colleagues who have caring responsibilities, her personal experience of having a child with severe learning disabilities has both inspired and informed her in-depth professional knowledge of this area.

Valerie’s experiences juggling a social work career with raising her daughter now 18, prompted her to pen Working With Family Carers (available via Critical Publishing).

Like the Young Carer exhibition, Dr Gant’s book explores real-world issues facing carers and brings to focus the “hidden world that many people do not get to see”.

For more information about Young Carers services in Warrington please contact: Fiona Jenkins or Linda Cassidy.

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