Young carers in Manchester have teamed up with a singer-songwriter to produce a powerful song about their everyday lives that is already making waves on social media.

The ‘Support Not Sympathy’ music video aims to highlight the experiences of young carers in the city and raise awareness of hidden young carers. The young people worked with singer-songwriter Aleya Mae Warden to produce a moving anthem to reflect their everyday lives.

The song, inspired by the enthusiasm and hard work of young carers, was used as the soundtrack to a short film for social media about the life of a young carer. The song was released online on Manchester City Council’s social channels last week to mark National Young Carers Action Day.

In tandem with this, the video marks the launch of the #SupportNotSympathy campaign, in which the Council hope to raise awareness amongst young people, families, and professionals who work with young people, about what a young carer is, how they can support them, and the support available. The Support Not Sympathy campaign also aims to show how small changes can make a big difference to the lives of young carers.

Through the campaign Manchester City Council and the Young Carers Partnership want to challenge stereotypes around the topic and ensure young carers are not stigmatised. The Council value young carers in the city and have previously launched the Young Carers Ambassador Award to recognise the hard work and resilience of young carers.

The young carers music project was funded by the Stronger Communities Fund, from the We Love Manchester charity, following a successful application from members of the Young Carers Partnership the mental health charity 42nd Street, the music video filmed at the Manchester Powerhouse in Moss Side.

Over 100 Manchester young carers were involved in the project, and came from the following schools: The Manchester College, Manchester Communications Academy, The Barlow RC High School, Newall Green primary School, Birchfield Primary School, Ashbury Meadow Primary School, St Peter’s Roman Catholic High School, Chorlton High South.

Following a request from young carers, Manchester City Council asked Singer- songwriter Aleya Mae Warden to work alongside a group of young carers to craft a song that represented the stories of young carers. Aleya crafted the lyrics based upon conversations she had with young carers, about inclusion, support not sympathy and courage. The young people involved also produced artwork that helped visualise their ideas that were put into the song. These conversations took place during the first lockdown through virtual sessions and then, face-to-face planning sessions when restrictions were lifted.

The music project for young carers is part of the city’s ‘2022 Our Year’ commitment to make this year a fantastic year of opportunity for Manchester’s children and young people, to help make up for all the time they’ve spent in lockdown and away from school and their friends during the pandemic of the last two years.

Throughout this year the Council wants the city to look at itself through the eyes of its young residents, putting children and young people’s needs at the forefront of planning across every sphere of city life.  It is asking businesses, cultural organisations, leisure providers, shops, transport operators, and others – to get behind the city’s children and young people and think what they could do differently to help them be happy and healthy, and to have the kind of opportunities and experiences they need and deserve so they can reclaim their futures and succeed in life.

Councillor Garry Bridges, Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Children and Schools, said: 

“Our young carers are some of the most remarkable and inspiring young people you will meet and no-one could fail to be moved by this powerful and moving song they have helped to create.  We’re determined to do everything we can to support young carers in the city and would encourage any young person who might be struggling alone to help care for a family member to tell someone and to reach out for the support that is there.  Just as they’re helping change the lives of their loved ones for the better, we want to help them change their lives for the better too.”