The trailer for 'People Like Us' featuring Isobel Clarke as Gemma, Louis Krommenhoek as Tyler and Hannah Emanuel as Zoe
Theatre of Debate and Surrey Young Carers (SYC) have teamed up to produce ‘People like Us’, a play about being a young carer and their experiences in day to day life. Before the pilot tour of the live production, SYC estimated that there were at least two young carers in every class. After the production was piloted in 15 schools, SYC revised their estimate to up to five young carers in every class.
At least one in twelve students are looking after someone affected by disability, health problems or addiction. Ofsted have highlighted young carers as a vulnerable group at higher risk of stress related health problems, lower attendance, attainment and disengagement from education.
'People Like Us' produced by TOD, written by Judith Johnson, was created to help unidentified young carers but also make students and teachers more aware of this issue.
The film of a live performance of 'People Like Us' is now complete and will be premiered in London on Young Carers Awareness Day 25th January 2018. The resource which includes the film, a trailer and scenes for discussion will offer staff and students an innovative way of launching a young carers policy for their school or refreshing an already existing one, will be made available initially to Surrey Secondary Schools.
Gemma played by Isobel Clarke and Zoey played by Hannah Dodds
GEMMA is a 16 year old high achieving GCSE student. She usually does extremely well at school but unfortunately, since her Mum was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, she has found that she has less and less time to give to her studies because she has to help her Mum (ZOE) a lot more. ZOE is in her 40s, an artist and now ex teacher (she has had to give up work because of her condition). She finds life much more difficult since her MS has developed and is particularly frustrated that she can’t support and care for GEMMA like she used to. At school, staff haven’t picked up that GEMMA is experiencing difficulties, so she struggles on, but then she meets TYLER in an after-school detention.
TYLER, also 16, has been a Carer for his family since he was young but has only been identified at school in year 8 at age 13. TYLER has struggled at school for years, but is now receiving some support and has been helped a lot by a Young Carers Group (run by a local charity outside of school). TYLER’s brother ZEB, age 18, has Asperger’s. TYLER helps ZEB with anxiety issues and personal organisation skills, as well as helping his Mum (who is in a wheelchair) and his Dad (who has bi-polar). ZEB is a keen fan of Electronic Dance Music and has a following on youTube under the name ZEB the legend. TYLER has begun to write and perform poetry, sometimes to a backing provided by ZEB.
TYLER is known as being a bit of an outsider, so him and top of the class GEMMA do not usually have much to do with each other, but he recognises some signs that GEMMA might be a young carer and decides to take her under his wing. GEMMA offers to help TYLER with his Maths homework, and soon a relationship begins to develop . . .
Age 16. Gemma is bright, compassionate, smart. She is in the last stages of studying for her GCSEs and lives with her Mum, Zoe, who has recently been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Gemma is expected to score highly in her GCSEs. Her friendship group consists mainly of other high achieving teenagers and she is popular in this group, particularly because she is sharp and witty.
Age 16. Tyler is positive, charming and cheeky, but with a sarcastic wit. Tyler goes to the same school as Gemma but he is not part of her social group. In fact, he is not really part of any social group, he tends to float from one to the other. He is generally liked, but many of the other kids are wary of his sharp tongue and alternative image. Tyler tends to flout rules whenever he can, customises his school uniform, dyes his hair and has some tattoos and/or piercings (for casting reasons, these are probably hidden!) Tyler is a Carer for four members of his family; his Dad, Mum and two brothers.
Early forties. Gemma’s Mum. Zoe is creative, quirky, sociable. Now officially diagnosed with MS, Zoe has been experiencing symptoms for some time. Zoe was a secondary school Art teacher before giving up due to her condition; she still practices her own Art (painting). She is a single mother and now has trouble making ends meet.
Age 18. Tyler’s brother. Zeb has Asperger’s syndrome. He attends the local sixth form college and is studying Music Technology. He loves electronic dance music (e.g. Caribou) and spends a lot of time composing and making his own. Zeb and Tyler have a special connection; Tyler is very good at calming Zeb down when he has the panic attacks which he sometimes experiences.
In the play young carer, Tyler Dodds composes and performs a spoken word rap that describe a day in his life as a young carer
A Young Carer is someone aged up to 18 who provides unpaid-for care for a family member or friend who has a long-term physical or mental health problem, a disability, a life-limiting illness, a drug or alcohol dependency.Definition by Surrey Young Carers, Action for Carers Surrey
Any of your students could be a Young Carer.
Gemma played by Isobel Clarke and Tyler played by Louis Krommenhoek
As a result of the live performances and debates in Surrey schools many students were able to self identify themselves as young carers for the first time and the participating schools used the opportunity to promote or launch their own Young Carers policy for their school. Action for Carers were on hand to offer support and guidance.
At the same time as raising awareness, creating empathy and understanding, People Like Us' supports the achievement of attainment targets for Key Stage 3 and 4 across Citizenship, English and Drama, whilst promoting Spiritual, Moral, Social and Cultural development and the following learning objectives
• To understand what a young carer is.
• To understand how to identify any young carers that may have not yet been identified.
• To understand the social, physical and emotional responsibilities a young person can have.
• To be able to participate in a debate around the impact of being a Young Carer, on teachers, young people and families.
• DRAMA LEARNING OBJECTIVE: To understand the role theatre can play in educating and informing audiences.