Education can be a huge challenge for young carers.

It’s hard enough to balance homework with caring. This can be even harder when you don’t have a quiet space to study or your sleep is regularly disrupted, making it hard to concentrate. Schools can be the ideal place to receive support, but schools often don’t know who their young carers are.

In a recent consultation, our Young Carer Service found that 23% of those taking part received no support as a young carer in school and 60% felt that their school had little or no understanding of their caring role.

Nationally, Carers Trust suggests that as many as 1 in 5 secondary school students could be young carers. Their research indicates that:

  • 42% of young carers or adult carers ‘always’ or ‘usually’ feel stressed.
  • 27% of young carers say that they struggle to balance caring with school or college work.
  • 52% said they do ‘not often’ or ‘never’ get help from school or college to balance their work.
  • 34% of young carers say their school or college ‘always’ or ‘usually’ understand about them being a young carer – this means around two-thirds of young carers are spending their days in environments where they don’t feel fully understood.
  • 40% said they ‘never’ or do ‘not often’ have someone at school to talk to about being a young carer or young adult carer.

The Young Carer Service has encouraged better support for young carers at schools for many years.

We’ve delivered lunchtime drop-ins in every secondary school in Gateshead. These have been a perfect way to stay in touch with the young carers we know, to meet new ones, and to help schools become more aware of who their young carers are. But drop-ins aren’t the only answer, especially when you have a small team and over 450 young carers to try to stay in touch with.

So we’re extremely excited to have been awarded a grant from the Triangle Trust 1949 Fund to support young carers in education.

The Trust provides grants to projects that support young carers or young people with criminal convictions. Each year it receives hundreds of applications from projects like us who want to extend their support for young people. Last year, we submitted an application to the Trust, outlining our plan to offer more support to young carers with their education. This was succesful and we were shortlisted to a final ten projects who would be interviewed for one of eight grants.
Carol Watson, Young Carer Service Lead, Beth Dodgson, Trustee, and Anthony Lea, Business Development Manager, spent two hours in an online meeting with Vic from the Trust. They answered questions about how our proposed project will run, what it hopes to achieve, and the skills and experience in the charity that will help us to meet our goals.
While Carol and Anthony were both able to describe the work of the charity from a project perspective, Bethany had a unique insight of her own. Bethany is a former young carer who accessed our support from childhood and continues to care for her family while pursuing her own career. Bethany’s experience gives her an invaluable insight and she was able to explain the difference the Young Carer Service made to her as she grew up as well as our commitment to giving carers a voice within and beyond our organisation. In October, we were informed that our application had been succesful and we’ve now been awarded £60,000 over two years to develop our education support.

Say Hi to Charlotte!

It’s always great to start something new and we’re especially excited to welcome Charlotte Osgerby, who will be leading the project. Charlotte brings tonnes of experience to this new post, having worked as a primary school teacher and as a Learning Officer at the Great North Museum. As a former young carer, she also understands first-hand the challenges that young carers can face. While most of Charlotte's role will focus on education, she will also provide additional support through our other programmes for young carers.

Young carers can face huge pressures at school, on top of their caring responsibilities, which can impact their wellbeing and grades. I hope that by providing a consistent support network at school, sending resources, and providing times to study will have a positive impact on the educational outcomes for our young carers. I am also keen to develop working relationships with schools to make sure young carers have the support systems in place on a day-to-day basis.
Having been a young carer myself, I understand how important it is to have someone who listens and understands, and in this role, I hope to do just that! I was so excited when I received the news that I was successful for this role and couldn’t wait to get started. I’m really looking forward to meeting our young carers and working with them to create educational support that will give them what they need.

Charlotte is going to be extremely busy as the new project will include:

  • Leading secondary school lunchtime drop-ins and supporting schools to develop their own.
  • Making sure schools are aware of how caring affects their students
  • Delivering awareness raising presentations
  • Creating school resource packs
  • Providing every secondary school-age young carer with Young Carer ID Card
  • Working with our Young Carer Expert Panel to develop a new Transition Assessment for young carers who are nearly 18
  • Accompanying young adult carers to higher or further education events and supporting them to access grants that help them to achieve their aspirations.

Gateshead College Partnership

The grant gives us an opportunity to develop our longstanding partnership with Gateshead College. For many years, they’ve provided professional cooking programmes for our teenage young carers. This has helped them to develop their kitchen skills and confidence and, for some, has been the first step on a career path as they have gone on to study catering at the College. Thanks to the grant, we’ll now be working with Gateshead College to provide regular after-school study support sessions. These will be a quiet space for young carers to revise and keep up with assignments, with support from tutors. We’ll also work with the College to provide open events where young carers can find out more about their higher education and training options.

Extra Support for Our Organisation

As well as grant funding, Triangle Trust provides support with organisational development. Their Spark Programme is a partnership with Cranfield Trust that helps organisations like ours to explore the challenges that they are facing. The programme then identifies tailored support from businesses who want to share their time and skills for social good. The Trust will be helping us to build on the work we started in autumn 2022 developing a new business strategy.

Get in Touch

If you’re a school looking to develop your support for young carers or you're a young carer living in Gateshead that would like additional support with education, you can get in touch here