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Giving a Voice to The Silent Problem

invisible people

Creative Shootout Live Final 2024.

When Johnny Pitt took to the stage at BAFTA HQ on Thursday 25th January at this year’s Creative Shootout live final, he let us in on a secret. Choosing a charity for the CSO is really, really tough, and takes months of deliberating. It is not a position I envy. Especially as double the amount of charities applied for the Creative Shootout this year, compared to previous years.  Previous years’ charities include UNICEF, A Plastic Planet, Crisis, FoodCycle, Fareshare and Mind. All incredible and deserving charities that make a real difference to lives and communities.

Carers UK x The Creative Shootout

carers uk creative shootout

This year’s charity, Carers UK was the most unifying yet. Carers UK provides information on accessing financial aid, emotional support, and advice on caring. It also helps combat loneliness by connecting carers, and campaigns for better rights and lasting change.

As the stats rolled out, we discovered that there are not only 10.6 million unpaid carers in the UK, but 2 in 3 of us will become carers during our lifetime.

2 in 3.

That is huge. 

And puts us all in the same boat.

No matter what your social economic status or background; disease, illness and ageing do not discriminate.

Johnny reflected on his own experience of being a carer twice so far in his lifetime – most poignantly he didn’t realise he was being a “carer” at the time. He was “merely caring” for the people he loves. 

creative shootout carers uk

Here is a Carer.

Then there was the opening video. I doubt there was a dry eye in the auditorium as we heard the stories of carers and their loved ones. 

A bare brick wall was the backdrop that put the characters centre stage as carers were juxtaposed against their loved ones, on a split screen.

Here is a carer. Here is her best friend.

Here is a carer. Here is his mother.

Here is a carer. Here is her husband.

The best friend, the mother, and the husband used words like “happy”, “resilient”, “strong”, and “joyful” to describe the carers. 

The carers, however, used these words to describe themselves: Stressed. Anxious. Depressed. Lonely.

This shone a spotlight on the hidden struggles of the carers. Their family and friends had no idea what was going on beneath the surface of the smile the carers put on for the outside world. 

Close to home

I immediately thought of a dear friend of mine, Emma, who has been caring for her mother for the last five years, as well as working and being a single mum. She is a hero of mine. Her strength and resilience when faced with the slow and painful demise of her mother has been something, I now realise, I have taken for granted. After The Creative Shootout, I wanted to tell her how valued, seen and appreciated she is. And how I will make more effort, to check in on her – especially in the next few weeks when her mother moves into palliative care.

Emma, like so many others, was an unpaid – and unrecognised – carer. She was “just” looking after her mum. 

The Brief: Halve the time it takes to recognise Carer Status

It takes an average of two years for someone to even realise they are a carer.

The brief given to the finalist agencies at lunchtime was to come up with a campaign to halve that time, so that within a year unpaid carers can access support quicker, better protect their mental health, stay in employment, and seek financial support. 

The 8 finalist agencies had just 8 minutes each to present their pitch to the live, voting audience.

The Pitches: Every 8 minutes 67 people will become unpaid carers.

All of the pitches were bold, brilliant and heartfelt. From Propellernet’s positivi-tea of Yorkshire Teabags to Ready 10 chucking “Kit-Care’s” into the audience (bribes are always welcome), the agencies who took part should be nothing but proud of themselves. But there can be only one winner… 

Red Consultancy – 3rd Place

The brilliant Red Consultancy hit us with some maths problems –  a personal favourite of the current prime minister. If little Bobby spends 7 hours at school, 2 hours shopping for his family, 1 hour at the chemist, and another 6 hours a day looking after his mother, what time does Bobby go to bed? Another maths problem presented us with the reality that cares earn only 18% of the minimum wage. 

It became evident that the maths did not add up. Red hit us hard by highlighting that carers make up a 2nd NHS, and reframed the cost of living crisis into a “cost of loving crisis.” They suggested a membership/card/app scheme where carers can then receive 18% off the price of goods. 

Cost of loving 2024

Given – 2nd Place

Given presented us with the opportunity to consider, what care is. How do we define “care”?

Is working out how to use your dad’s strimmer whilst he is in hospital “care”?  Is making sure he has the exact right size of Tupperware for his moisturiser cream “care”? Is taking a day off work to take your father who suffers from dementia, to buy a jumper “care”? Or is it “just” caring? Given’s bold idea was to create a care badge, as a symbol of recognising  “everyday caring” as care.

MullenLowe – 2024 Winner

The team at MullenLowe focused their pitch on the everyday moments of care often not recognised as acts of caring, in a campaign titled ‘This is a Carer’.  Their agency philosophy is “positive change comes from positive dissatisfaction” – which is something we can all get behind.  I believe we could all be much more dissatisfied and fight for change. The team came up with an integrated multi-channel approach, making full use of partners with a particularly powerful out-of-home creative. They also presented feel-good stories from carers who echoed the sentiment:  “It’s tough, but it’s a pleasure. It’s worth it.”

“I believe this will be transformational for us.”

Helen Walker, Chief Executive at Carers UK, added: “We are delighted to see MullenLowe chosen as winner of The Creative Shootout – and incredibly excited to work with them as they use their creativity, expertise, and enthusiasm to harness the potential of this campaign, which aims to halve the time it takes for someone to recognise themselves as an unpaid carer.

Two in three of us will care in our lifetime and too many carers simply do not recognise their caring role until it’s too late and they have missed out on vital financial, practical, and emotional advice and support. This campaign is an amazing opportunity to raise awareness of the realities of caring and help millions look after their own health and wellbeing alongside looking after someone else.”

Take the time to make time.

Thank you Creative Shootout. In a world that seems to find endless ways to divide us – politically, medically, economically – you always bring us together. You highlight how important it is to commune. It’s a natural reaction for us to look after each other, no matter how we are forced apart.

As I have been typing this Emma has just messaged me to say that her mum now has days, not weeks. So I’m going to sign off and go check on my friend. 

Take care of your loved ones, it is a privilege and the greatest gift.

See you next year x

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