16 April 2015

Over a six week period this winter twelve young carers between the ages of 11 and 18 have regularly attended the weekly music sessions at the John Innes Youth Centre in Wimbledon, learning to play instruments, explore their creativity and getting new friends.

The project is a partnership between Carers Support Merton and YMCA St Paul’s Group’s Youth Department.

Every Wednesday between 4 and 6pm the young carers have attended Music Room, a weekly jam session at the youth centre where young people can come to play together or learn how to play an instrument.

Jam sessions

Josh Hustwick, Music Room Co-ordinator, says the project was launched after Carers Support Merton brought some of the young people to the centre, and they expressed an interest in coming to the Wednesday jam sessions.

Although the youth projects like Music Room are open to anyone aged 11-18, we felt that it would be even more successful if we set up this project. This way, we could make sure everyone had someone to talk to when they came, and that they all got to have a go at the instruments they wanted to learn,” Josh explains.

In six sessions we have taught the young carers the basics of the instruments we use here – bass, guitar, keyboard and drums – in order to get them ready to join in the jam sessions,” Josh adds.

Really easy to get to know people

Kalai, 15, who lives in Colliers Wood says “I came to learn to play an instrument, but also to make friends”. He adds that “it’s been really easy to get to know people, everyone’s really friendly and the people who work here are great”.

Many young carers have a lot of responsibility and sometimes stressful home lives. “I come to the music sessions to forget about the stress,” Kalai says.

Josh is very pleased with how well the young carers have got along with the group of young people at the youth centre.

Improved skills

It’s been really successful – they have been welcomed into the group that already comes to the jam sessions, and their skills in playing the instruments have also improved,” Josh says.

13 year old Jennifer who lives in Mitcham is one of the young carers who thoroughly enjoyed coming to the music sessions on Wednesdays.

It’s been really fun, because I got to hang out with people my own age and it’s really easy speaking to everyone here,” she says. “The reason I wanted to come here was because I wanted to learn to play drums. I tried last week – it was hard, but fun!”