By Gautam Malkani

One young carer, three identities - and the mother of all shitstorms

Friday, 10 June 2016

It's Carers Week

This week is national Carers Week. I know many of you have backed my book because you’re interested in the subject of young carers, so I wanted to flag up some other things you might want to check out this week.


  • Here’s a link to an incredible radio package broadcast on Wednesday on Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show. 16-year-old Shantavia discusses what life is like for a young carer - "I felt really guilty every time I felt frustrated": 



  • Winchester Cathedral is hosting Hidden, a portrait exhibition telling the stories of young carers. It’s in conjunction with The Children’s Society and YMCA and has been put together by the photographer and former young carer Max Alexander:



  • The Carers Trust has launched a petition for a really neat idea: getting university application forms altered so that young carers can identify themselves as such. The campaign was started by a young carer called Carol Hayward, who notes: “UCAS and universities have an obligation to help people attend university, no matter what their background; but if you look after someone there are more barriers to attending university than you might realise.” 

            Please do sign this petition – it would be a very simple but incredibly helpful way of making life easier for these               kids:



  • A new report published for Carers’ Week includes includes the alarming stat that more than 40% of carers have reported actually giving up their studies. 29% of respondents said a big obstacle was feeling unable to talk about their caring role to fellow students. And among both young and older carers, 50 % said their mental health has got worse and 51 % have let a health problem go untreated. You can download the full report here:



  • Here’s a moving short film called Do I Look Like I Care? put together by young carers and The Reporters’ Academy.



Looking at all the work that people have been doing for this week, I started angsting about something that I’ve angsted about a lot while writing this book – namely that writing it is a pretty inefficient way to highlight the plight of young carers. I’ve put in an average of 20 - 30 hours a week for ten years – imagine if instead I’d put that time and energy into volunteering with one of the many incredible carers charities that have been fighting this fight on the front line. Or, if I really had to write about it, surely I’d have done a much faster job with my journalist’s hat on. In fact, as it happens, the first proper full-length feature I ever wrote was about a related subject – it was an article about breast cancer that I wrote for my uni paper back in 1996. I dug it up as part of this week’s angsting and realised that some lines are eerily identical to lines in my novel.

But, inefficient or not, I still think novels are ideal vehicles for getting inside peoples’ heads – for readers to get inside the tangled and conflicted heads of protagonists and for protagonists to get inside the heads of readers.

I’ll post some more Shed updates over the coming weeks urging you all to spread the word to help get this book crowdfunded, but for now I just wanted to raise awareness of this awareness-raising week before the week is out.

You can find out more by searching with the hashtag #carersweek or by visiting http://www.carersweek.org/


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