#Lovelowry guest curator – matt woodhead. who cares? salford cares!

The Lowry, LUNG and Gaddum are proud to launch The Who Cares Education Resource. This is being piloted for FREE in Salford and Greater Manchester and available to schools and anyone who engages with young people. The aim of this resource is to identify hidden young carers and get them the support they need.

Hello!

My name is Matt and I’m the Co-Artistic Director of LUNG. Founded in Barnsley in 2012, we are a campaign led verbatim company that tours work nationally and gradates of The Lowry Associate Artist programme. We work closely with different communities to make verbatim theatre and hidden voices heard. This week we are launching our Who Cares education resource across schools in Greater Manchester. ‘What’s that?’ I hear you ask! ‘I’m a teacher, how do I get involved?’ I hear you cry. I’ll absolutely answer both of those questions. But first, let me tell you a bit about Who Cares…

In 2015  four teenagers were invited to the Lowry in Salford and asked if they would like to make a verbatim play about their lives. The Learning & Engagement team at The Lowry, Gaddum who support young carers in Salford and LUNG wanted to carve out a space and give these young people the biggest platform possible to tell their own story, in their own words. Antonia-Rae, Ciaron, Kerry and Paige took up the challenge and said yes.

Basically a young carer is someone aged 18 or under who cares for someone with a disability, mental illness or addiction. Some 70% of young carers in this country are hidden. This means they are caring behind closed doors, unknown to anyone outside their own home. 

For two years, I interviewed Antonia-Rae, Ciaron, Kerry and Paige in a classroom at The Lowry. These young carers and their families were involved in every aspect of the creative process. They cast the actors who performed in the show, their favourite tunes formed the soundscape of the piece and they gave feedback on different drafts of the script. The play premiered in front of more than 450 people at the Lowry. When the carers took a bow on stage to a standing ovation, something really powerful happened. We realised this was only the beginning… 

After that electrifying night, Who Cares toured to youth zones, schools and community centres across the country. Every morning for three months we’d rock up, build a temporary theatre and perform the show. At each performance, a support worker from the local young carers service was there. Some 10,000 teenagers saw the show and more than 200 unidentified young carers were found and signposted to receive support.

Who Cares Promo ©The Other Richard

After a sit down and a cuppa, we took our message to The House of Lords. It was electrifying to see these young carers from Salford standing in a room on the banks of the Thames advocating not only for themselves, but also for the rights of young carers everywhere. The show ‘Knocked MP’s sideways’ and initiated key conversations on how we can affect change for young carers on a national level. 

Since that performance at The House of Lords, we haven’t slowed down! Who Cares went on to be performed at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (scooping up lots of fantastic awards and reviews) and it was recently broadcast on BBC Radio 4 to over 800,000 people. To me, it’s incredible that even after 5 years the voices of Antonia-Rae, Ciaron, Kerry and Paige are still being heard and affecting social change.

As if the show wasn’t enough, we also launched The Who Cares Campaign to work in partnership with local experts and the government to improve services for young carers across the UK. During lockdown we’ve supported young carers in Salford to make their voices heard on BBC, ITV and Channel 5 News. We also launched a Digi Fund that raised £5,000 for young carers who did not have access to vital technology they need to book doctors’ appointments, hang out with their friends and catch up on school work. 

That brings us up to date! This week we are launching our free Who Cares Education Resource with The Lowry and Gaddum. This includes:

  • 1 Who Cares Education Resource Guide
  • 1 x Professionals Resource to be watched by those delivering the resource
  • 1 x 50 minute film of the Who Cares play
  • 1 x Workshop resource to be delivered after the film
  • 3 x bonus additional scenes from the play

To sign up to the resource, schools should click here and service providers should click here.  And if you have any questions at all about the resource then do get in touch with us info@lungtheatre.co.uk.

We are proud to be piloting this free resource in Salford and Greater Manchester before rolling this resource out nationally in autumn 2021. The whole team is so proud to be continuing to amplify and raise the voice of these young carers and we’re over the moon to be launching the resource in the place this whole journey began.

Hands down, the biggest honour of this project has been the privilege of watching these four young carers grow up. Antonia-Rae turned 18 earlier this year and is about to launch herself into a media career. Ciaron won a scholarship to study political science at a top university. Paige now works as the engagement coordinator at the Lowry and changes young people’s lives every day. Sadly, Kerry was taken from us this time last year. We miss her every day, but her fire, grit and determination is something that still burns strong in all of our hearts. 

The power of the stories of these four young carers keeps Who Cares going. The bravery they took in speaking up and speaking out for other young carers has changed lives. Without them, 200 young carers across the UK would not have been identified. Without them, 200 young carers would not have accessed the support they need. But our job isn’t done yet. Let’s go and find some more…

Matt Woodhead

Co-Artistic Director of LUNG.

Who Cares is co-produced by The Lowry and LUNG in partnership with Gaddum who support young carers in Salford. The Who Cares Education Resource in generously supported by The Ogelsby Charitable Trust, Curious Minds and Arts Council England.

For more information on the Who Cares Education Package email info@lungtheatre.co.uk or visit https://www.lungtheatre.co.uk/resources

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