By Rhys Collier, Student Wellbeing Coordinator, Deputy Safeguarding Lead & Senior Mental Health Lead and Designated Teacher for Children in Care at Bournemouth & Poole College
Across all vulnerable groups, the support needs of young people with caring responsibilities are often overlooked. While other vulnerable students have mandatory meetings, points of contact, and other support elements in education and in wider life, young carers often slip under the radar and miss out on the support available for them. Being a young carer is a huge responsibility, and for many, can outweigh the time needed to spend in attending education and gaining qualifications.
In recognising this need, Bournemouth & Poole College have participated in the Driving Change in Further Education project, an initiative specifically focussed on the lived experience of young carers, the challenges they face and improving the support they receive in further education. Nationally, young carers attain lower qualifications than their peers, so the difference this project can make in supporting young adult carers in their learning has been clear from the start.
As a start, this project provided clarity on the definition of a young carer. Typically, people think of young carers as children who have to care for their parents due to physical disability. Though this is the case for many, the definition is much wider, applying to any young person that has caring responsibilities for anybody, including siblings, grandparents, and other family or household members. These caring needs apply to physical health needs, mental health needs, drug and alcohol issues, and any other needs that cannot be met independently. The Driving Change project has helped, across the college, to raise awareness of what is meant by a young carer and, importantly, how their education may be impacted.
The Driving Change project works with colleges to improve different elements of provision for young adult carers. Through the project, Bournemouth & Poole College have introduced several key changes in our model of support for young adult carers:
Bournemouth & Poole College is really proud to achieve the Carers Federation Quality Standard in Carer Support (QSCS) accreditation and, more importantly, is really proud of what the Driving Change project has meant for young carers and the provision of support at the college.