People Like Us

Written by Judith Johnson / Produced by Theatre of Debate

Description

‘People Like Us’ tells the story of Tyler and Gemma. Both are 16, but apart from detention seem to have little in common. Until Tyler finds out Gemma is a young carer, just like him…

TYLER: “People don’t believe me when I tell them who I look after. I’m 16. I’m a boy. I look a bit different. But, you know, it takes all sorts. And there’s definitely all sorts in my family.”

Judith Johnson’s powerful, fast-moving, humorous and timely contemporary drama, was specially commissioned by Theatre of Debate and developed in collaboration with Action for Carers, Surrey.

The live play and debate pilot toured fifteen Secondary schools in Surrey reaching over 3,000 students and teachers. As a result of the performances and debates in 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. Before the pilot tour of the live production, SYC estimated that there were at least two young carers in every class in Surrey Secondary schools. After the pilot tour, SYC revised their estimate to an average of up to five young carers in every class.

Every school that has seen the project to date has reported that as a direct result of watching People Like Us, several young people have self-identified themselves as young carers, added to which teachers found it a useful tool to create a school policy for young carers or to review an existing one.

Details

Focus: to raise awareness about the lives of young carers at the same time as supporting the achievement of attainment targets for key stage 3 and 4 across Citizenship, English, Drama and PHSE whilst promoting spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and mental well-being.

Who is People Like Us suitable for: It is appropriate for both 14 – 16 and 16+ age groups. Teachers can use the project across subjects and curricula, specifically in, PSHE, Citizenship, English, Drama and SMSC – spiritual, social, moral, social and cultural development.

Length: 59 minutes

Full Film: Available through Theatre of Debate, with subtitles by Stagetext

Resources: Available for teachers and students, science communicators and health workers

The Children’s Society latest statistics show that there are 800,000 young carers in the UK, 27% of which have difficulties at school due to their caring responsibilities, and 1/3 reported having a mental health problem. 39% said nobody in their school was even aware of their caring responsibilities.  With the effects of lockdown and isolation, it has never been more important to engage young people in a conversation about mental health and well-being.

Ofsted inspectors will consider how a school is identifying and supporting students who are young carers. Therefore, schools need to take a proactive approach to identify carers as early as possible – our resources have been created in collaboration with Surrey Young Carers (SYC) support you and your school in doing so.

Synopsis

People Like Us tells the story of Tyler and Gemma. Both are 16, but apart from detention seem to have little in common. Until Tyler finds out Gemma is a young carer, just like him…

Characters

TYLER: “People don’t believe me when I tell them who I look after. I’m 16. I’m a boy. I look a bit different. But, you know, it takes all sorts. And there’s definitely all sorts in my family.”

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…

“Yesterday was fantastic; the play was brilliant; the vocal feedback from the members of staff that attended has been absolutely so positive. We’re already hoping that you will be staging a similar or the same production next year!”

“We hope the play helps break down barriers. We want more conversations about young carers to start happening in schools and we hope more young carers identify themselves. It’s a crucial first step towards providing appropriate support services.”

“I just wanted to say how much we enjoyed the performance today, it engaging for our Year 10s, and raised the awareness of young carers really well. Please pass on our thanks to Ben and the actors.”

“Seeing the play really does build awareness, it’s a great idea. It’s exciting and it’ll definitely spark something for all the students and teachers who see it.”

Developed in partnership with

Surrey Action for Carers

Surrey Young Carers

Created in collaboration with

NHS England
Berkeley Group
STIHL

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