"I used to feel like I didn't fit in. Now I found a group where I connect with people and we're like family." Kieran (17) has lived in Southmead, Bristol his whole life. He found school challenging and has been through difficult family times. He’s passionate about his community, and has strong views on how people are treated, stereotypes he’s faced, and struggles he sees every day. In one of the toughest times of his life, Kieran found Creative Youth Network and joined a social action project, giving young people like him a voice. It’s a project funded by Comic Relief and the #iwill fund, which is made possible thanks to The National Lottery Community Fund and government funding. “I used to always get in fights at school, I never really fit in. Always having clashes with the teachers because they never helped me understand it on a level where I could connect with the lesson. I know it’s because other students all came in with their own problems, and teachers are paid really low where I’m from, they struggled to get the class to listen, and all you get from that is dysfunction. “At that time, I was dealing with a lot of problems with my mum, she has a lot of anxiety, and over the years it sort of rubbed off on me. I had lots of problems with my sister and my other brother, who’s got special needs. “I was trying to help with that, but we had a court case going on, with social services. It was all going wrong, they were saying we were going to be taken away. “There’s a lot of good things that my mum has done. I probably wouldn’t be sat here now if it wasn’t for her. And all the pain she’s got to deal with. I never have to deal with the things she’s dealt with because she’s already dealt with it so I didn’t have to. “The least way I can repay her for that is at least help her maintain what’s left of her life. So I appeared in court and that made everything better, it was probably the best achievement of my life.” During this time, Kieran’s mum found Creative Youth Network’s young carers group: “I never knew about young carers until my mum started picking up on these problems that were happening, started helping me with it, and she introduced me to young carers. Last November I heard about a group supporting kids like me, and to be honest it was the best experience and the best choice to go. I absolutely love these sessions. “I’ve connected with so many different people, there are so many different characters, they all collide, and it’s just fun. Everyone’s so nice, caring, if someone was to join the group, they’d be treated like family, there’s no disconnection with anyone there, it’s all just friends. I feel safe here, I connect with people. The group started having guided discussions about social action and what they wanted to see changed in their community: “I think my ideology has been changed quite a bit. The people I meet change the way and my outlook on the world, that’s developed into something more. The more [time] you spend with people, the more they rub off on you. [You] stop being judgemental, try to understand things from other people’s point of view and your own. Everyone’s got a story.” Kieran is at college now, where he studies music production. He’s found a way to connect with his lessons through music. He’s also passionate about championing his community. “When I walk these streets, I see people with fear, anger and pain in their eyes because of how the government is treating them. I come from quite a poor place and these people don’t have a voice. I got involved in the social action project to give them a voice. “People turn around and they say you’ve got to be more positive about this. What they don’t understand is that you’ve got several bills dragging over and you can’t afford to pay them whatsoever, and you’ve got to feed your kids. Down in these areas like Southmead, Lockleaze, it’s all underfunded, so it’s all just a circle of poverty and misery. “You can’t be happy until you feel safe and secure. Stereotypes about lower class people get under my skin, when people say we’re doing nothing with our life. I’ve been in places where I’ve had to sleep on the floor, with no heating, with no showers, with no money. “How can we decrease the amount of people who come out of the system in a negative way? How is there a possibility that one day that will all be gone? We need to be aware that people are struggling, that everyone should be equal in every level, be it in education, jobs, in life, everyone needs to be treated as an equal. The start of conquering any problem is treating someone as [if] they’re equal.” Through the social action project, Kieran is giving voice to the struggles of his community and his own, building connections to others across the city, striving towards a more empathetic and equal society. Help young people like Kieran reach their potential: Please select a donation amount (required) £12 Could give a young carer an evening of fun activities, taking a break from their caring responsibilities £25 Could provide an hour’s specialist support for a young person struggling with their mental health £35 Could cover the cost of food for five sessions for young asylum seekers and refugees Other Set up a regular payment Donate How can we help?