Hidden is a photo exhibition led and inspired by Hospice Toronto that will show portraits of young carers living in Ontario and share their hidden lives as caregivers for family members who are ill, disabled, experiencing mental illness or addiction. Hidden shows the significant challenges that young carers face and the immense personal cost of their caring responsibilities.
Hospice Toronto hopes that this exhibition will mobilize awareness of young carers across Ontario and help to build networks and systems for identifying and supporting young carers and their families.
We are incredibly proud to be able to support the amazing Hidden exhibition which brings these issues to light, gives young carers a voice, and works towards ensuring they have the support they need.
Who Are Young Carers?
Young carers are kids under the age of 18, who are in a caregiving role for a parent, grandparent, sibling or relative with a chronic or life-threatening illness, disability, addiction, mental illness, or language barrier.
“Data from Statistics Canada’s 2012 General Social Survey indicates that 1.9 million Canadians between 15 and 29 (27% of those in this age group) are “young carers”: young people who provide unpaid care for others for reasons of illness, disability, addiction or injury. The statistics are surprising: the amount of time young people aged 15–24 spend caring for others is similar to that of their counterparts in the 45- to 54-year-old age range. Like middle-aged adults, most young carers provide care for just a few hours or less per week, but approximately 5% of young carers spend more than 30 hours per week caring for others. Young carers most typically look after their grandparents (40%), parents (27%) friends and neighbours (14%) and siblings or extended family members (11%). Nearly one in five (19%) of young carers report caring for three or more people.” Source: The Varnier Institute of the Family. 2017
This is still likely to be the ‘tip of the iceberg’ with many young carers remaining ‘hidden’. This can be because families fear intervention, because of the stigma surrounding the family illness or disability, or because services need to do more to identify them.
Hospice Toronto’s Young Carers Program (YCP)
It’s easy to overlook the needs of young carers since support is often focused on the family member needing care due to an illness, disability, mental health or addiction issue, or language barrier. Caregiving can build great strengths, but it can also be very hard and may make a child or youth feel different and alone. Young carers exist worldwide, and they are supported in Toronto by Hospice Toronto’s Young Carers Program (YCP).
YCP aims to provide therapeutic programming to help kids with adult responsibilities cope and interact with other kids who know exactly what they are going through.
Hospice Toronto’s Young Carers Program supports over 300 young carers aged 5 – 18 in the Toronto area.
The objective of the Hidden exhibition is to raise awareness of young carers both in Toronto and across Ontario by sharing and highlighting the stories of young carers through a photos taken by editorial photographer Max Alexander. The aim is to give young carers participating in the project confidence and a voice about their experiences, needs issues and aspirations.
The Hidden exhibition is based on a concept developed by The Children’s Society, England, along with Photographer Max Alexander. The original ‘Hidden’ exhibition has been touring England since 2015 to raise awareness of the lives of young carers, and the hidden nature of these young people and their families.
The ground-breaking Hidden exhibition was extremely successful in England, raising public awareness about young caregivers, and the issues and challenges they face and enabling increased support for them in schools, public services, programs and with the National Health Service. It has empowered the young carers who were photographed, and has directly influenced national policy and been a valuable resource for academia.
It is hoped that this compelling portraiture exhibition will give moving insight into how being a young carer can affect a child’s well-being, education and life chances. More importantly, that it will also demonstrate how it can nurture hope, resilience and courage.
Max’s Story – Hidden Exhibition
Editorial photographer Max Alexander has photographed icons from the worlds of science, astronomy and politics, including Neil Armstrong, Stephen Hawking, Nelson Mandela, and Astronaut Tim Peake, for many prestigious organizations.
In the charity sector, Max has been working for The Children’s Society for over a decade, telling the stories of young carers. He was a young carer himself, from the age of nine to fourteen, caring for his mother who had schizophrenia. ‘I gained so much from being a young carer’ Max says. ‘It gave me the resources to empathize, to be responsive to people – and this has been hugely important for my photography.’
‘In this exhibition, I chose to portray these young carers as children and young people, which is what they should be. I wanted to show them as determined and resolute individuals, but vulnerable too. Their hidden stories then reveal themselves in their words.’ These character-based portraits will tell the human story of these remarkable children.
Max Alexander has been a professional photographer for over twenty years, working for a large number of prestigious clients around the world, and has several high-profile exhibitions to his name. He has photographed young carers extensively for over fifteen years, and produced powerfully intimate portraiture for The Children’s Society.
As well as his work with young carers, Max is well known for his work with science, and with astronomy in particular. He is the contract photographer for the UK Space Agency. In 2009 his portrait-led exhibition, Explorers of the Universe, was seen by over 100,000 people at the Royal Albert Hall, and had over two million related hits on his website. In November 2014, his Illuminating Atoms portrait series was shown at The Royal Albert Hall.
Visit his website here: http://www.maxalexander.com
For more information about the Hidden Project and Exhibition, please contact Jenna Nelson at 416-364-1666 Ext 245 or Beverley Shepherd at 416-364-1666 Ext 243