On national Young Carers Awareness Day, LJMU announced an official package of specialised support to ensure young carers are able to benefit from the advantages a university education can provide.
Young Carers Awareness Day recognises and celebrates the 700,000 young carers in the UK who provide unpaid care and support to family and friends. As more than half of the 700,000 are aged between 14 – 25 years of age, LJMU has been working with Barnado’s Action with Young Carers project and Liverpool City Council to develop the support offered to young adult carers studying at the University.
Philip Bakstad, Student Support Co-ordinator at LJMU’s Student Advice and Wellbeing Services, explains: “LJMU recognises the challenges that can be faced by young adult carers in balancing caring responsibilities with student life. The introduction of the Care Act 2014 in April last year has rightly placed the needs of carers on an equal footing with those they are caring for and, for the first time, the act places a responsibility on universities to support young adult carers transition effectively into higher education.
“LJMU has been working at a regional and national level to ensure we are able to provide an appropriate and effective package of support for them. We have also contributed to the Carers’ Trust toolkit for HEIs seeking to develop their policy and practice in this area, staff have been invited to deliver talks at two national conferences and the University is continuing its work with Barnardo’s to develop outreach initiatives for LJMU’s cohort of young carers.”
With the University’s package of support for young adult carers a dedicated member of staff will provide information, advice and support about all aspects of university life, including:
• Support with Study Skills and a mentor
• Help with applying for student funding and advice on accessing additional sources of funding (including bursaries, scholarships and benefits) to support them during their studies
• Support at university events such as Open Days, interview and applicant days
• Support and advocacy with academic issues including liaising with their academic department and course tutors
• Help with accommodation options if the young adult carers choose to live in student accommodation while continuing with their caring responsibilities
• Signposting towards other LJMU services including LiverpoolSU and the World of Work Careers Centre
Louise Wardale, Keeping the Family in Mind Coordinator, Barnardo's Action with Young Carers Liverpool, said: “We know first-hand from our work here in Liverpool how difficult it can be for young adult carers to achieve their goals and in particular to have the aspiration to go onto university. We are delighted to be working with LJMU and our partners to ensure that young adult carers can now access an excellent package of support so they can succeed and enjoy university life as do their peers. We know this support is essential in overcoming the very difficult circumstances these young people face and will greatly help them acquire extremely valuable skills and to reach their potential.”
Liverpool City Council Cabinet Member for Social Care, Councillor Roz Gladden, added: “Young carers are amazing people, providing incredible support for family members. We recognise that and want to make sure they can achieve the very best they can regardless of their added responsibilities. I am pleased that LJMU have worked with us to devise this package of support with the aim of making life easier for young carers at university.”
Mersey Care NHS Trust, one of the leading mental health trusts in the country, also works closely with Barnado’s and is marking the day with a social media campaign.
Chief executive Joe Rafferty said: “It is important that the key contribution made by young carers is acknowledged. Their support for family members is invaluable but they, in turn, need our support to help them cope with sometimes difficult situations and allow them to thrive. At Mersey Care we are very proud of our association with Barnardo’s and our work together aims to ensure children and young carers do not miss out on their child or teenage years because of their caring role. We hope that by giving them support, they in turn can help their family member move towards recovery.”