Isolated, young, female carers building confidence and friendship through Sound Creators – our creative music programme

 “Sound Creators has helped me a lot emotionally. I learned how to describe myself and how to play the Guitalele. It might not sound like a lot, but I wasn’t expecting those two hours a week to have such a positive impact in my life.” Abigail, young mother and Sound Creators participant.   

One in 10 young people surveyed by the Children’s Society reported often feeling lonely, despite apparently being more connected than ever [ONS, 2018]. For the estimated 700,000 young carers in the UK their caring responsibilities can add a range of complexities or challenges to their development, including unmet emotional needs, high rates of poor mental and physical health and increased levels of bullying.  

Sound Creators is a targeted programme designed to address the specific needs of young female carers. Led by UK Youth and delivered by six partner organisations across the country. The programme supports participants to engage in creative musical activity as a positive mechanism to support their wellbeing. Sound Creators sessions, facilitated by skilled youth workers, provide both a break from caring and a safe space where those involved can share their challenges, build relationships with peers who have shared experiences and connect into support. 

At the start of the Sound Creators programme over 40% of the young carers reported having poor mental health and 53% said they felt lonely some or all of the time.  

“I was feeling lonely living at home caring for my mum. I was in school in Year Seven. I wanted to be involved to socialise more and feel less lonely and I love music.” Sound Creators participant.  

Music provides a vehicle for connection. It both brings young carers together and provides a springboard to start conversations. Youth workers shared “They’ve got to know themselves better and each other better through using music”. “Music helps remove barriers by finding common ground, it provides a backdrop to express themselves and learn about themselves”. Youth workers also used these sessions to support young carers around a range of issues they were experiencing – both practical and emotional.  

Cohort One Impact 

Sound Creators was designed to provide both a break from caring and an opportunity for meaningful connection; 57% of participants said that time away had the largest impact, followed by 43% who said that spending time with other young carers had the largest impact.  

Whilst more detailed measurement was more limited due to Covid-10, amongst the young people that completed the exit survey, the average response to the question “On a scale from 0 to 10, how happy are you with your relationships with your friends?”  increased from 2.9 to 7.9. 86% of participants also agreed or strongly agreed that they had made new friends in the programme. 100% felt they now had more than one person who they could talk to (up from 30%). 82% reported increased confidence, “it has helped me overcome my shyness” shared one participant.  

Sound Creators Programme Funder and the Future 

Sound Creators is part of the Carers’ Music Fund, which has been made possible by funding Spirit of 2012 has received from the Tampon Tax Fund, awarded through the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). Spirit 2012 provided funding to cover the cost of alternative care and transport which are two key barriers for young carers.  

In Cohort One (Autumn 2019 – Summer 2020) Sound Creators supported 75 young people across three regions of the UK; North West, West Midlands, Southwest and the East of England. Six delivery partners took part in the programme, with two partnering with local music organisations to provide musical expertise; Bolton Lads and Girls, Uniting Communities Organisation (UCO), Wigan Youth Zone, Clarion Futures partnering with Play It Forward, In the Mix and Sporting Inspirations partnering with I’m In Radio.  

Here at UK Youth we are very much looking forward to following the journeys of a new group of participants this Autumn and deepening our learning of supporting young carers, but for now we’ll leave the last word to one inspiring young carer 

“I learnt about our feelings and how happy it can make you just playing music or listening to it, I learnt I can be around people and don’t need to be scared.” Sound Creators participant, looking after her siblings. 

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