We provided funding for The RSC's Like I Care project - inspired by the themes of care within the RSC production of My Neighbour Totoro, they worked in partnership with Stratford Young Carers to deliver an ambitious digital engagement project highlighting the lived experiences of young carers.
My Neighbour Totoro is an enchanting coming of age story that follows one extraordinary summer in the lives of sisters Satsuki and Mei. Like I Care responds to the older sister Satsuki’s caregiving role towards her younger sister Mei whilst their mother is in hospital.
Nine young carers, aged seven to 14, who access the Stratford-upon-Avon based services of Warwickshire Young Carers, have taken part in the project – collaborating with spoken word practitioner Kurly McGeachie and designers Pickle Illustration to turn their unique lived experiences into art.
Through a series of workshops, the young carers shared their personal stories, which were captured as poetry and audio recordings and provided inspiration for a co-created piece of artwork.
Drawing out the themes of caring, patience and responsibility, the artwork depicts how the young carers display these qualities in their everyday lives, in acts ranging from changing a washing machine filter to reading a story to their sibling.
The finished work is currently being displayed as a standing structure in the Barbican throughout the run of My Neighbour Totoro, along with a QR code that visitors can scan to learn more about the project. An additional feature to the artwork is a specially created phone number what audiences can call to listen to the participants’ stories. The artwork is also being displayed through vinyl installation in a window in Bell Court.
This project has had a profound impact on the participants, Warwickshire Young Carers and the RSC.
Harj Vye, Warwickshire Young Carers Family Support Worker: "Parents/guardians have observed that the project impacted their child’s life through allowing them to, ‘be more open about being a young carer at school’, also reflecting that the project ‘boosted self-esteem and confidence’, ‘made her realise she’s not alone and every young carer has different situations’ and that they ‘visit the town centre more often…they feel valued and part of the community’.
Being able to see their finalised artwork on display on Stratford gave the young carers a sense of pride and achievement. It allowed them to believe in themselves and their capabilities. Opportunities such as this are far and few between for these young children so for them to be able to take part in such a worthwhile project has been invaluable."
Alice Tomlinson, RSC Public Programmes Developer (and Project Producer): "A key measure of this project’s success has been its’ serving as a blueprint for how the organisation intends to work with people’s stories at its heart. We developed a bold, creative joint initiative that invigorated the experience of the RSC for the young people involved, those in the town experiencing the Stratford based installation and audiences of the ground-breaking production of My Neighbour Totoro (total of 132,664 tickets sold). The final outputs of the work with Warwickshire Young Carers are striking, moving, joyful and proud; a true celebration of the young people and their unique lived experiences."
Since completing the project, Like I Care participants and wider beneficiaries of Warwickshire Young Carers have continued to engage with the RSC, through a series of follow up workshop to explore the Company’s extensive collection and support with the reopening of The Play’s The Thing – an interactive exhibition in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.
inset photo: Young carers explore the RSC collection for Like I Care. Photo by Lucy Barriball © RSC