Gareth Davies, Student Adviser, Student Support Centre at Cardiff University tells us more about the support available for student carers at Cardiff University…
Do you care, unpaid, for a family member or friend with an illness or disability, mental health condition or an addiction? If so I would like to hear from you.
Carers Week, 6 – 10 June 2016
Carers Week this year focuses on “building carer friendly communities”. Carers in education is one aspect of this and is a great way to start to look at what we as a community at Cardiff University can do to work with and support student carers studying here. It is possible to make simple changes to how we work with student carers to develop a better understanding of what it means to be a carer and to support their caring role and studies.
What is a caring role?
A caring role can vary significantly but will include the following, as taken from Carers Trust: –
- Practical tasks, such as cooking, housework and shopping.
- Physical care, such as helping someone out of bed.
- Personal care, such as helping someone dress.
- Helping someone to give their medication.
- Managing the family budget [Or the finances of the person you care for].
- Collecting prescriptions and managing medication.
- Helping someone communicate.
- Looking after brothers and sisters.
- Providing emotional support.
Juggling your caring and studying
Caring can be rewarding and fulfilling but it can also be physically and emotionally challenging. This is particularly the case if you juggle a caring role and studying, whether you return home daily to provide regular care or return home at weekends to provide care. Balancing a caring role and university life can also be made more difficult if you experience peaks of caring responsibilities that are often sporadic and unplanned.
I’m the dedicated contact for student Carers at Cardiff University
My role is to be the dedicated contact for Student Carers at Cardiff University on all aspects of student support and to take a lead on reviewing support for Student Carers. I also see this role as raising awareness and encouraging a better understanding amongst other students and staff of what it is like to have a caring role while studying and promoting the benefits of having carers at university. I am a carer and it is something that I have a personal and passionate interest in but it is important that you influence what Cardiff University does to support Student Carers.
Are you a student carer?
There are likely to be many students at Cardiff University who are carers but we don’t know how many or what it is like to combine a caring role and studying here. If you are a carer it could be that very few friends on your course or staff are aware of your caring role. It could also be that other’s understanding of what it means to be a carer is limited. It would be good if we could change this. Students who provide care can make a valuable contribution to university life and being a carer should not be seen as a problem or a barrier to studying at university
Support for student carers
Support is on hand to help you manage your caring role and studying. There is always the option to discuss with your Personal Tutor any aspect of how you are managing your studies and this can include any concerns you may have about juggling academic work with your caring role. There is a university procedure that could cover this called Extenuating Circumstances. Your Personal Tutor should be able to offer advice on this and so can we in the Student Support Centre.
Services in the Student Support Centre offer a variety support to any student but some may be very pertinent for you as a carer. There is advice and support if you would like to discuss financial concerns, extra financial support because of essential costs and not enough income or because you find that you can’t work to supplement income. There is also support if you find that coping with caring and studying has affected you emotionally. Doing something for yourself like studying can be both a great way to find some balance in your life but it could also lead to feelings of guilt if you feel it may detract from your caring role. Speaking to someone in Counselling, Health & Wellbeing about this who is independent of your normal circle of family, friends and peers can be helpful.
Share your thoughts and experiences
I would like to know about your experiences of managing your caring role and studying. It would be helpful to know what support, if any, you have received while at university (The good, the bad and the indifferent!) and what would you like the university to do to support student carers. Would you like to see dedicated information aimed specifically at student carers? Do you think that support at the university covers what you may need or do you feel that the university could do more? Are you aware of the range of support available at the university and how to access it?
It would be really helpful if you could provide feedback about being a student carer at Cardiff University by completing the online survey via the following link.
The aim of the survey is to find out how you are managing at university and it will also be a starting point for looking at support across the university for student carers. One of the things that is being considered is a Student Carers Bursary to provide some extra financial support but finding out what other support would make a difference to you is equally important.
The survey will go live from Friday 10 June 2016 and will remain open until the autumn term.
The survey can be completed anonymously but there is also the option to leave your contact details at the end if you don’t mind being contacted to follow up the survey findings and to discuss developing support at Cardiff University for student carers. The information you provide in the survey will be received directly by me and it will be treated in confidence. No personal details will be passed on to anyone else without your permission.
Alternatively, there is the option to contact me directly via email DaviesGT1@cardiff.ac.uk or telephone (029) 2074 2070 to discuss your experiences of being a Student Carer at Cardiff University.
Come and see us in Student Support
Your feedback and help please
Have you found this blog post useful? Please help us by commenting in the comments bar below, and if there is anything further you’d like to know ask your questions there too.
We’d also be grateful if you can share this information by re-tweeting or sharing with your fellow students who may find this useful – you can do this by using the share buttons or via twitter and facebook.
Gareth Davies, Advice & Money Team
Your Student Life, Supported.
The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice & Money, Careers & Employability, Counselling, Health & Wellbeing, Disability & Dyslexia and International Student Support.
For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.