Young carers in Kingston were given the chance to get creative over half term last month with the arts charity Create.

The project is part of Create’s national 'art:space' programme. The young people taking part are aged between 10 and 14 and registered as young carers with Kingston Carers’ Network.

The recent event saw the young carers create animations with visual artist Chloe Cooper, having explored jewellery design, visual art and photography during 2018.

The project is designed to build young carers’ self-esteem by encouraging them to develop creative and social skills, as well as providing them with a refreshing break from their caring responsibilities.

Paul, 14, who took part in the project, said:

"Doing something creative was great especially as there were loads more resources here that we would never have access to at home.

"Being creative helps me relax. Projects like these definitely help young carers as they distract us and let us have good times. They help me realise I can do more than I thought I could."

Kingston Carers Network supports over 700 young carers (there are over 700,000 in Britain as a whole) who on average take on 17 hours of caring responsibilities per week.

Paul said he helped look after his father, who suffers from depression, and explained how young carers face greater challenges than many of their peers.

Paul said: "I care for my dad. He has something called depression where he gets stressed and upset very easily and it can be hard sometimes.

"I think young carers tend to spend a lot more time with their family. People that don’t have someone to care for someone tend to be more sociable and have more friends. "

The decision to hold the event during half term was linked to government-funded research from the Department of Education (DoE), which highlighted that young carers might struggle to engage socially outside of term time.

The 2016 DoE report said: "Holidays were particularly challenging for most young carers due to an increase in their caring responsibilities at home and the lack of opportunity to take breaks to engage in other activities both inside and outside the home."

Create’s Co-Founder & Chief Executive, Nicky Goulder, also commented on the project and praised the art created by the young carers who took part.

Ms Goulder said: "Participating in creative activities is a great way of expressing yourself and socialising. School holidays can be a period of heightened responsibility for young carers and it’s important for wellbeing that respite is found away from their duties as carers.

"Thanks to our partnership with British Land and Eden Walk, our art:space programme offers an environment for self-expression, socialising, building confidence and having fun. The young carers’ work is always creative, inspiring and collaborative!"