Coleg y Cymoedd staff at the Aberdare Campus have led the way in the FE sector achieving the Bronze Level Certificate in the Young Carers College Award; designed by Rhondda Cynon Taf Carers Support project.
In a 2011 Census, there were over 29,000 adult carers within Rhondda Cynon Taf, including young carers, aged 18-25 years. These young people help look after a family member, a friend or neighbour, who without their help would not manage, due to illness, age or disability.
Many of these young people give up on education and training, feeling they cannot cope with the additional pressures of studying; as they may not want to inform their tutor of their ‘caring’ role.
The college, with campuses in Rhondda, Cynon, Taf and Caerphilly recognised the problems young carers may encounter whilst studying at the college and decided to act upon it; with Aberdare Campus spearheading the project.
Working with Kerris Olsen-Jones, Young Adult Carer Development Worker at Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC, the campus set up several processes including step-by-step guidance, practical tools and training opportunities to support learners who have caring responsibilities.
All staff working on the Aberdare campus have recognised the value of the training and supported the project wholeheartedly. To achieve the Bronze Award, the campus needed to evidence a dedication towards identifying young carers and supporting them as a group of vulnerable learners.
Judith Evans, Principal of Coleg y Cymoedd which received a Bronze Award, said: “We are delighted to have won a Bronze award for our work with young carer learners on the Aberdare Campus. We want all our learners to be able to participate fully in their education, including those with caring responsibilities. The Young Carers College Award, designed by RCT Carers Support project has certainly raised our awareness and helped all our staff to understand the signs that a learner may be a young carer, and the ways in which we can support them; signposting them to the appropriate support. The project is now being replicated at all our campuses.”
Kerris Olsen-Jones, stated: “We were delighted to present Laura Wilson, Welfare Officer at the Aberdare campus with the Bronze Level Certificate. Laura and her colleagues have done so much to help the young carers studying at the campus.
Colleges and schools play a vital role in a young carer’s life, but many care for relatives without the staff even knowing what they do. This is why the Support project is so important in helping both academic and support staff to identify and refer young carers on to the Support project; the support they receive can have a huge impact on their learning, wellbeing and life chances.”
The project is already making a considerable difference to young carers’ lives and helps to ensure that Coleg y Cymoedd is seen as a supportive environment. The continued partnership between the college and the Local Authority to roll out this project at all campuses, will hopefully encourage more learners to identify themselves as carers and receive appropriate support; to achieve their full potential in life, whatever their career path.