Poole Young Carers

Text: Professor Saul Becker,

University of Sussex

Looking at Jason Dimmock’s photographs of children and young people you would not be able to say how they differed from other young people or what this set of portraits had in common. There are no easy tell-tale signs; there is no visible ‘label’ that distinguishes these young people from other young people.

Jason Dimmock’s photographs are all of ‘young carers’ – children under the age of 18 who are providing care, support and supervision within their own families to parents, siblings and others who have a need for care. This need for care can arise from a physical disability, ill health, frailty, mental health problems, or needs associated with addiction. There are hundreds of thousands of young carers in the UK; most are hidden or invisible. They look like any other young person, but their day-to-day experiences can be very different.

Looking closely at Jason’s photographs, there is a quiet intensity in the faces. A sense of seriousness and purpose, of having to take on responsibilities before their time. They share an invisible bond that links them together – their own personal and deep experience of caregiving; of having to look after an ill or disabled parent; of having to manage the household responsibilities or deal with the personal and emotional needs of their loved ones. And there is a hint too of the potential trajectory for their lives; of how caring at this intensity and duration can cast a shadow forward – to affect not only their experiences of today but their opportunities for tomorrow. It is a cliché, but behind every photograph is a personal story – of caregiving, of family, of responsibility, of childhood, of opportunities forgone, but also of possibilities for a good life, a good future.

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