A 21 year old student carer, Carol Hayward, started a campaign for UCAS to bring change to their form; a tick box which will allow young adult carers to identify themselves. This has been a campaign starting back from 2014, by Carers Trust who also supported the UCAS campaign and they received 2,500 signatures.
Gail Scott-Spicer, CEO of Carers Trust, said:
“This campaign has been for a small change, but one that will make a huge difference to the lives of student carers across the UK, as long as universities across the country now commit to using the information they will be given in order to provide the support that student carers need and deserve.”
“I know from first-hand experience how difficult it is being a student but also a carer. I am really thrilled today to have learnt that UCAS will be improving their form for carers at the earliest possible date.”
Carers Trust research has recently highlighted the facts about student carers in the UK, which include that:
- Half of young adult carers in college or university are struggling because of their caring role.
- Young adult carers are four times more likely to have dropped out of college or universities than students without caring roles.
- 14% of young carers in school said they would not go to college or university because of their caring role.
- 24% of young adult carers in school said they could not afford to go to college or university, while 41% are unsure. -Carer.org
Thankfully, UCAS has now confirmed that in 2018, carers will be able to disclose if they are a carer!
There are approximately 375,000 young adult carers (aged 14-25) in the UK, all facing different challenges and responsibilities. If you are under the age of 19 and provide regular care and support to a family member, you may be eligible to access additional support while studying.
Universities and colleges have initiatives or support programmes in place to help those who need it, but it’s really important to first identify yourself as a carer. If your chosen university or college doesn’t know about your caring responsibilities, they won’t be able to put the necessary support in place. If you’re not sure where to start, have a chat with their student support team, who will be able to point you in the right direction and provide the support you need.
As part of your uni application, you’ll need to write a personal statement. UCAS spokesperson James Durant has this advice:
“Your background as a carer will have given you skills and experiences that can set you apart from other candidates. Writing about your personal journey, and linking it to the subject you want to study will strengthen your application and make it stand out.”
Click here, for more information about being a student carers, personal statements, student with disabilities and care leavers.
There are so many students who care for a loved one and have achieved getting their degrees. Some students have transitioned from being a young carer or may have become a young adult carer before or while at University.
Picture credit: @Jane_Bayliss21
Jane Bayliss is a young carer who cares for 3 members of her family. Her parents and her older sister. She has a First class degree in Psychology (BSc) and she even received a Kevin Buchanan Award, (only one is given out), for resilience in achieving her degree with her caring duties; (as seen in the picture on the left). She’s now completing her MSc in Psychology.
Like many hidden army of young carers, Jane was caring for a while and initially did not realise she was young carer. She was not recognised until a later stage. [Watch Professor Saul Becker TEDx’s talk, on hidden young carers.]
Jane and I talk from time to time and it never ceases to amaze me how strong she is. The stress of being the one, holding the family together on a daily basis can be exhausting. But taking each day as it comes and receiving support, seems to be the only way to cope.
“Being a student young carer also brings it’s challenges as although I really enjoy uni, and it’s my only time “off” (but still on call!) it can also be pretty stressful. As juggling home with deadlines is never easy, and home obviously always comes first, so I just have to squeeze uni work in any rare spare 5mins, usually at stupid o’clock, or first thing in the morning. I get up extra early before everyone else to get sorted for the day ahead, as the time is just non-existent.
However I definitely couldn’t have got through uni, let alone achieve a first class degree (inner perfectionist kicked in there!) and now onto my masters without the support, of my amazing uni teachers Rachel Evenden and Roz Collings, who have been there, and continue to be. They’re not only academically support me but also personally too, and without them and the support from Young Carers, I definitely wouldn’t be able to keep going!
But despite what can sometimes feel like never ending tough times, they are my family and I wouldn’t change them for the world and I’m proud to be able to help. Being a young carer has played a massive role in making me who I am today, and I’m definitely more resilient for it – as it’s true in the long-term, whatever life throws at you makes you stronger in the long run.”
– Jane Bayliss
Picture credit: @Lizzieloves.x
Elizabeth ‘Lizzie Loves‘ Jemiyo is a content creator/vlogger. She recently graduated from London School of Economics and Political Science, with a BSc in Sociology.
She posted a vlog about her graduation day where she spoke about her time at University; meeting new people from different backgrounds, being a young black woman and the need of continuos support between black women and her mum’s mental health illness.
“Biggest thing for me during this period of my life was, watching my mum become very mentally ill and learning how to love her again, even though i had so much hate in my heart. Because i didn’t understand it and she didn’t understand it. Anyone who has dealt with mental illness, you’ll understand how difficult it can be on the family, the financial burden and having to pay for your mortgage. It felt like i had to do everything on my own, even though i knew i wasn’t alone, i felt alone at times. But there needs to be a struggle for you to find peace, hills to climb obviously for you to get to the top and i think along the way it taught me that, you know embrace those hills and understand that things will definitely change.” Elizabeth Jemiyo
Picture Credit: @Fayewong21
I reposted Faye Wong‘s Instagram picture a while back, as she posted a picture in her graduation gown and i was moved with her caption about her experiences of being a young carer. She also graduated from LSE.
“This is for my beautiful mum. It is not often that I openly or publicly talk about her. However, now is the right time to reflect back on memories and how it relates to my life at present.
She did not receive an education in Hong Kong but she had always recognised the importance of having one. She had always said that a “thief might steal all of your material belongings but they would never steal the knowledge you have acquired”. Knowledge and having intellectual agility is crucial to having self respect because it is something mostly gained through hard work. Ultimately, she stressed the importance of being independent and self reliant. Her move to the UK was, in part, to give her family a better life. It is with these principles that I have carried with me in my life.
My words do not do any justice about my feelings concerning my mum and lung cancer. At 14, she said she wouldn’t be able to make my graduation day and this upset her. This was the very day in which she was diagnosed with cancer.
However, I guess she knew that I would make it to university and pass. Today, I proved her right after being her young carer for three years just before starting my UG degree at LSE. I know that she had faith in me and this is held in my heart. This won’t ever be taken away. I will always remember you because you made me who I am today.” – Faye Wong
In a Guardian article titled, ‘Alone and unsupported: why student carers need more help’ featured 3 carers (Becky Hammerton, Page Steers and Christopher John Nation) who spoke about being student carers and the challenges that comes with it.
A huge congratulations to all the student carers that have graduated this year. If you were not able to this year, please get as much information and support you’ll need when you go back.
If you feel this is not the right time to complete your degree or you’re about to start college or university. For advice get in touch with your local carers centre, local authority or with Carers UK, adviceline on 0808 808 7777 (Monday- Friday : 10am – 4pm). The number is free from your landlines and most major mobile networks. Additionally you can call the same number on Mondays and Tuesdays for listening support, from 9am – 7pm. This is where you are given the freedom to express your feelings about your experiences with caring.