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Dawn Hart, 45, from Coleshill Warwickshire, has today been ‘highly commended’ by Carers UK for two of her entries to their national Creative Writing and Photography Competition. Dawn has cared for her twin children Ethan and Grace,aged 7, the first of whom was diagnosed with brain damage and the latter with genetic conditions (trisomy X and Global Development delay) and short bowel disease.

Dawn was the only photography entrant to be highly-commended for two photographs, Leigh and Carer Crisis.The first depicts her friend and “hero” Leigh – a fellow mother, carer and campaigner looking after a disabled son – whose energy and passion inspired Dawn to feel more “positive and energised” in her caring role.

Her second photograph, Carer Crisis, depicts Dawn’s own face literally ‘plastered up’ to cover physical and mental ailments, such as fatigue and migraines. She hopes the picture demonstrates the way that long-term support, rather than short-term ‘plasters’, are the only way to help carers at breaking point.

Highly-commended photographer, Dawn Hart explained:

“With ‘Leigh’ I hope to show that it’s possible to be a mother first and a carer second. My own experiences informed my second photograph, ‘Carer Crisis’ as I realised after six years of sleepless nights that I was suffering from ‘Carer Burnout’. I wanted to encourage others to recognise these signs and offer long-term support to carers with these symptoms.”

“Winning a highly-commended spot for my photographs is so exciting. Since the competition I have put wheels in motion to take more photographs of parent carers like Leigh. I’d like to use this opportunity to encourage other carers to come forward to a charity like Carers UK for support and use creativity, whether it’s painting, photography, or blogging, as a way to express how you feel. All too often, carers aren’t able to.”

Carers UK, with support from sponsors Specsavers Healthcall, will publish winners from the winning poetry and short story categories as part of an anthology called ‘Was This in the Plan?’ set to be released on 27 November. The book is available to pre-order on Carers UK’s online shop (http://bit.ly/2xLK1yU) and costs for £5 (£3 for Carers UK members). All proceeds will help fund the charity’s work supporting and advocating for those looking after loved ones.
Earlier this year, carers, former carers, and their friends were invited to contribute poems, short stories, and photographsfor the national competition. Both well-established and newer artists and writers shared their personal reflections on caring. The poems were picked by award-winning poet Cheryl Moskowitz, who judged the prize for a third year running and the photography by Portrait Photographer Bella West.

Carers UK’s Chief Executive, Heléna Herklots said:

“At some point in our lives almost all of us will care for someone or require care ourselves. Yet, caring can still feel like an isolating experience, often worsened by a lack of understanding from those close to us or society as a whole.

With the support of Specsavers HealthcallCarers UK is using the power of photography and the written word to shine a light on the experiences of more carers than ever before.

In previous years, we have seen the competition’s winning poems, stories, and photographs help other carers feel less alone and better understood. We hope that this year’s contest will encourage even more carers recognise their role and come forward to seek the support they’re entitled to.”

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