THE precious breaks which carers take from looking after loved ones have been captured on camera.
And the exhibition – Time Well Earned – is now on display at the University of Sunderland’s Showcase Gallery in the Priestman Building, City Campus.
The university has joined forces with the Sunderland Carers’ Centre to raise the profile of unpaid carers – people who look after family members or friends who have a long-term illness, a disability or who are elderly and frail.
Many carers juggle care with employment, and the level of care they give can often exceed a full-time job and for some it can be a 24/7 role.
The photographs show carers taking well-deserved breaks from their caring roles and the idea for the project came from Daniel Dale, who is studying a photography degree at Cleveland College of Art and Design.
Daniel first approached Sunderland Carers’ Centre to sound out his ideas and to put him in contact with carers who now feature in the exhibition.
The 21-year-old, from Sunderland, said: “My initial idea was to document the hobbies and interests of carers as a distinct group of people.
“I only had a vague idea about what carers do, but as soon as I started meeting them I was struck by the hard work, time and dedication they give to looking after others. It became obvious their time out from caring to enjoy their hobbies and interests was so precious to them all.
“Setting up the appointments to photograph the carers really brought home the reality of their caring roles to me, the way they had to fit our meetings around the needs and appointments of the people they look after.
“I have never been in a caring position myself and I couldn’t comprehend the demands on carers’ time until I started the project.
“I hope the exhibition inspires other carers to start thinking about taking a break or even recognise that they have a caring role in the first place.”
The university has enjoyed a working relationship with Sunderland Carers’ Centre for the last two decades and Wendy Ingram, senior lecturer on the social work degree programme, works closely with the centre by involving carers in the social work curriculum.
She said: “Hosting the exhibition here is a welcome opportunity to raise awareness about caring more widely and within the university so that staff and students, who may themselves be carers, can find out more about the support available to them.”
The exhibition was opened this week by Professor Julie Mennell, University of Sunderland Deputy Vice-Chancellor, and will run until April 19, with the gallery open from 9am-5pm.