Gareth, the dedicated contact for student carers, discusses the support available at Cardiff University.
This week (11-17 June) is Carers Week, which aims to support carers to stay healthy and connected, and raise awareness about the struggles that carers can face.
Our community of student carers
For the last 18 months we have been working to raise awareness of student carers at Cardiff University and improve support for carers.
I’m pleased to say that 172 students declared at enrolment that they are carers at Cardiff University in 2017/18. This is a great response and we want to build on this to promote a carer friendly community across the university.
Your determination, skills and experiences can contribute a lot to university life and we want to ensure that you feel supported in pursuing your studies at the same time as managing your caring role.
Support can be in many forms, from friends on your course, other carers you may meet, a Personal Tutor or other staff where you study. We are also aware that you may not wish to disclose that you are a carer or discuss it with others.
However you want to approach your time at university we offer a variety of support services in Student Support & Wellbeing to assist you along the way.
Support for student carers:
- Carers Bursary and other extra financial support
- Advice on what you can do if your attendance on the course is affected by your caring responsibilities or other factors
- Confidential advice about anything to do with managing your caring role and studying
- Advice on what you can do if your exams or assignments are affected by caring responsibilities
- Support for learning needs such as dyslexia and help with developing your study skills
- Talking to someone who is independent of your family, friends, staff about managing your caring responsibilities, studies, life and how this may be affecting how you are feeling
- Support for your mental health
- Gaining work experience and planning your future career.
Are you a carer?
Some students may not regard themselves as being an ‘official carer’. We recognise carers as those “who care, unpaid, for a family member or friend with an illness or disability, mental health condition or an addiction” (definition from Carers Trust).
A caring role can vary significantly but will include the following:
- 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
- collecting prescriptions and managing medication
- helping someone communicate
- looking after brothers and sisters
- providing emotional support.
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.
If you are a carer, but have not disclosed this information to the University, please contact me to access support.
We intend to trial a ‘Carers Passport’ scheme to enable student carers to declare their caring responsibilities in one place and permit staff who need to know to view it with your permission. This will reduce the times you may have to explain your caring responsibilities each and every time a member of staff needs to know.
The passport should assist new students to plan for studying at Cardiff University, raise awareness of support options and arrange support when or if needed. It should also help with the submission of Extenuating Circumstances should this be required.
We also hope that a Carers Passport will raise awareness of the needs of student carers and the challenges you may face when studying.
If you have caring responsibilities and you would like to have a chat about any aspect of managing your studies while being a carer please contact me.
Telephone: 029 2087 4844
Gareth, Student Support Adviser.
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.