Approach to brief

Over Christmas, the agency holds a Christmas party for every one of our 172 team member’s children. In our 35th Anniversary year, as part of our commitment to complete 35 CSR projects, we ran our children’s Christmas event twice. The second time, we would run the event for local young carers who spend 90% of their time looking after physically or mentally disabled family members. Hearing their stories and learning about the hardships these children as young as 11 can face on a daily basis, we decided we had to do more. Each year YSS hold an annual conference inviting carers and their families plus stakeholders in government and education to the event. This year, we decided to transform this event by putting the carers themselves at the heart of the event. Boosting their confidence, showing them what they were capable of and may have forgotten due to the responsibilities they have well beyond their age.

Our key aims for delivering this event would be to ensure that;

• It was run at no cost to the YSS charity, drawing on our own in house resources.

• It would put the carers themselves at the heart of the event and not the stakeholders

• It would reward, inspire and motivate the young carers

• It would push the young carers to achieve something outside of their immense, amazing responsibilities

• It would raise the production values of the event and utilise other forms of media to tell the young carer’s stories.

We approached the YSS Charity with this concept in mind and they were delighted to accept our proposal and work began to create this unique experience.

Creative solution

In approaching the solution to the brief set, we first asked what would empower and inspire the young carers and give them a sense of self-belief that could have been eroded by the sometimes isolating experience of caring for a relative full time at such a young age. We knew that the carers themselves and their stories had to be central to the concept for it to resonate with the audience and achieve what was needed.

We then looked at how our own in-house capabilities and resources as an agency could be the catalyst for this experience and we decided that our solution would be to give the carers the experience of planning, managing and executing the conference themselves alongside our team.

The first stage was to bring a group of young carers from the Worcestershire area, chosen by the charity, to our midlands studios for a tour and a sort of work experience with the key teams involved in delivering an event. They shadowed team members from events, video and digital to learn how the elements weave together to create a successful event. The carers themselves then selected their preferred departments and worked with the team to create the plan, agenda and logistical overview of the event.

Some of the carers worked with our video teams in the production of VTs for the events, relating their stories and also the stories of carers who would not be able to attend in person.

In the background, our team worked together to draw on our resource and network of suppliers to create the staging, branding and collateral for the event at no cost.

One key element of the event and management would be the attendance and keynote speech of the YSS patron. In normal circumstances this would be an easily executed requirement but in this case, the patron in question was Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal. The Young carers worked with our events team to ensure a safe, secure and impactful visit form HRH the Princess Royal and her speech would be a highlight of the event as well as a tremendous boost towards the goals of the process.

The event itself was held at the drpstudios in Worcestershire in line with the objectives on cost and the carers worked closely with our team to not only deliver an expertly managed event, but also form a significant part of the conference content. No official presenter was employed and the carers themselves ran the show and managed the agenda from the stage, inviting speakers and carers alike to speak and deliver key sessions throughout the day.

The carers also welcomed HRH the princess Royal to the event following her arrival by helicopter and introduced her keynote speech which outlined the key goals, challenges and ambitions for the YSS charity.

Impact and Effectiveness

The event was measured against the criteria laid out with the key measure based on the carer’s thoughts, feedback and emotion surrounding the whole process. Each and every carer highlighted how prior to embarking on the process, they felt as though delivering a project like this, working in the way that they did was not just beyond them, but impossible. The event brought the carers out of their shells and demonstrated their potential and ability, forged through all their experiences to date. It became apparent how their responsibilities in everyday life were not solely a burden, but also experiences which had helped make them into responsible, effective individuals with real transferable skills.

The carers and their stories were placed firmly at the centre of the event by their presence on stage, their management of the event process and through the VT stories of other carers. Stakeholders saw first-hand exactly how powerful and moving their stories could be and encouraged them to redouble their efforts on behalf of the charity.

The event was delivered at entirely no cost by making the drp team an integral part of its planning and execution alongside the carers. We provided our event space free of charge, sourced all materials through sponsoring suppliers and provided time, production and expertise entirely free to ensure the success of the project. The production values were successfully raised above and beyond previous events, but what was most powerful, was the fact that the carers themselves were the ones whose efforts raised them.