Enabling Student Carers: The Journey Continues

Thursday 14th March saw the launch of the Carer’s Trust Going Further for Student Carers: Recognition Award supported by SFC, ourselves (CDN) and a Steering Group of representatives from the Sector. The award provides a useful framework for colleges to identify and support student carers to access and succeed at college. This builds on good practice already evident in our colleges. The Carers Trust have produced some excellent materials to support colleges on their journey towards gaining the Award. These can be accessed at:

Looking Back

The launch prompted us to reflect on our journey at CDN and the journey of our colleges in relation to the student carer agenda. Colleges are ‘hot beds’ of access and inclusion. For decades we have been working with diverse groups of students whose circumstances often affect their ability to access colleges and study successfully. However it wasn’t until 2012, when we were commissioned by the Government as part of their response to the Carers Strategy to develop ‘carer awareness raising’ training resources for the college sector, that our eyes were opened to the very real challenges experienced by carers. The reality is that caring responsibilities will impact on the majority of us over a life time but for some people the impact of caring from a young age is all consuming. This was illustrated by the video testimony of young adult carers, an integral part of the resources we developed in 2013. Here are just a few of the memorable comments they made about the impact of caring on their lives:

• It’s 24/7, seven days a week

• It’s being a parent to a child (sibling) that isn’t yours, making sure they get to school and complete their homework.

• It’s dealing with challenging behaviour, being tired, angry and stressed

• It’s like living someone else’s life

• Juggling 3 jobs and college to get money for my family and caring was hard

The young people were also full of really uplifting and affirming messages to others who were in the same boat, such as:

• Remember to be yourself, it’s ok to tell people (you’re a carer), remember you’re doing an amazing thing, be proud of who you are.
This was particularly poignant as most of the young people we worked with kept their caring roles hidden whilst at school and were often the victims of bullying. It was only through the support of their local Carers Organisations and peer support groups that their perspectives shifted.
The resources from the initial Enabling Student Carers project, including the videos and the student guidance tool ‘Moving On’, can be accessed at:

Looking Forward

Fast forward to 2019 and the development of the Carers Trust Recognition Award and we are again working in collaboration with the Carers Trust to develop an e-learning module designed to:
• Further develop good practice
• Highlight the skills and qualities student carers bring to their studies
• Highlight the issues and challenges faced by student carers
• Empower staff to make a difference.

The SFC, in its 2019/22 Outcome Agreement Guidance, has set the target that by the end of that funding period 75% of college regions will have achieved the Carer’s Trust Going Further for Student Carers: Recognition Award. Many colleges will already be offering much of the provision described in the Award.

To find out more about the process and how to apply go to:

Please remember, as always, CDN will be supporting you on this next part of the journey. So, if you have any queries please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Sandy MacLean
Andrée Carruthers

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