Are you aware of Hidden Harm?

This weekend, our Information & Signposting Lead Sharon, visited the Hidden Harm art exhibition at Firstsite in Colchester. The Community Hidden Harm Awareness Team (CHHAT) is a project run by The Children’s Society East, who work with young carers aged 8 – 19 years across Essex who are affected by ‘hidden harm’.

The CHHAT Team aim to build the confidence and self-esteem of the young people they work with via providing information, early intervention, prevention and mentoring support. By understanding the hidden harm that they are living with, the young people are able to express their thoughts and feelings and no longer feel that they are unseen in society. This empowerment helps build their resilience, improve their mental and emotional wellbeing and ultimately their individual safety. The support the young people receive whilst engaging with the CHHAT Team can include groupwork, activity days and one-to-one sessions. The art exhibition on Saturday 2 March is the culmination of one of their recent projects.

So, what is Hidden Harm?

The Children’s Society East state how the term describes the impact that parental drug and alcohol use has on young people. Individuals often feel that they have to hide their emotions from the outside world; “sometimes we pretend to be happy but inside, we feel trapped”.  The art exhibition was set up to show other young people that they shouldn’t feel alone and that they are not the only ones going through such difficulties.

Each week, the group working on the exhibition focused on a different emotion that they relate to in their experience of parental substance misuse. The emotions that were focused on were anger, sadness, worry, fear, loneliness, helplessness and not feeling important. The CHAAT Team and group worked alongside the artist Scott Irving, to plan and create a series of artworks expressing the different emotions associated with the individual experiences of ‘hidden harm’. The medium of graffiti was selected for the art exhibition as it related to experiences in the following ways;

  • “Many graffiti artworks are there one day, and removed the next – this relates with our struggle to be seen and heard;
  • Having the opportunity to make these artworks has given us a sense of control over ourselves and our experiences.”

The artwork exhibited was extremely impactful and thought provoking – take a look below and hear the voices of these young people:

The CHHAT Team can be contacted on 01245 493 311 for enquiries and referrals.