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Through Our Eyes: Five new films about the lives of young carers

Thursday 4th March 2021 at 4pm 0 Comments Dance

DU Dance filming on location around Magherafelt. Joe Fox Photography. Image: DU Dance filming on location around Magherafelt. Joe Fox Photography.

Young carers from across Northern Ireland form the central focus of five short films, collectively entitled Through Our Eyes, which will be screened together for the first time at Belfast Children’s Festival on Friday 5 March at 6.30pm.

Produced by DU Dance (NI), in partnership with Barnardo’s Northern Ireland, this dance film project is the result of a groundbreaking programme of work, which began in 2018, funded by BBC Children in Need.

The carers, who are aged between 10 and 18 years, came together in five groups drawn from several health trust areas. They embarked upon an intensive series of exploratory workshops, which culminated in filming at stunning locations chosen by the participants. For the majority, this was their first foray into the worlds of dance, film and the performing arts.

The project’s aim was to give a physical expression to the personal experiences of the individual group members and create five distinctive, arts-based short films. The results offer recognition and affirmation of the challenges faced by these fine young people, whose voices are rarely heard in the wider world. 

Current census data estimates over 8,000 children in Northern Ireland take on the role of providing significant care for a family member.  Their average age is 12 years old yet many go unnoticed so the true scale of this is hidden. Many are caring for an adult with a terminal, progressive or degenerative illness; many live in fear and uncertainty about the future; almost all surrender much of their childhood to their responsibilities.

Michele Janes, Head of Barnardo’s Northern Ireland, said:

“This partnership with DU Dance gave our young carers a creative and imaginative form of ‘escapism’, to leave behind their everyday caring responsibilities and to immerse themselves in a journey of self-discovery using dance and film. These young people show great resilience, but due to their additional responsibilities at home, young carers often miss out on opportunities that are available to their peers. It is really important that programmes like this continue to support the young carers community and everyone at Barnardo’s NI is extremely proud of the young people who took part and what they achieved.”  

“Emma, a young carer who took part said:
“It was such a fun time and I made so many new friends, and we all loved it so much. I loved the final result and I hope everyone who watches it, loves it too.”

Mags Byrne, Artistic Director of DU Dance (NI), said:

“It has been a privilege to work and create alongside the young people in these films. By sharing the films we hope to raise awareness of some of the issues they face in their daily lives and, at a time when COVID-19 restrictions put extra pressures on all young people, to acknowledge their amazing strength and resilience.

Terry Burns, National Officer at BBC Children in Need, said:

“BBC Children in Need is committed to improving the lives of those children and young people who need it most by supporting projects like this which work locally to make real and lasting changes to young lives.”

The films will be available free to watch online on QFT Player throughout the festival going live from 5th March at 6.30pm extending to 16th March in recognition of National Young Carers Day. Contact Young at Art Box Office on 028 9099 4425 Monday to Friday 10am-2pm or email boxoffice@youngatart.co.uk

See digital brochure for more festival events.

DU Dance (NI) is core funded by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. It has also been supported in 2020 through the Arts Council’s Organisations Emergency Programme and Stability and Renewal Programme for Organisations, thanks to funding from the Department for Communities.

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