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Are you a carer? 

A carer is anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support.

If you are a carer considering applying to the University or you are already registered as a student, please get in touch by emailing StudentCarers@gcu.ac.uk. Your email will be picked up by the named contact person for student carers who can provide you with more information about the supports available. If you are unsure whether you are a carer, please get in touch and we can discuss your individual circumstances and help you to access support.

Our named contact person for student carers is Christina Kelly, Student Wellbeing Adviser, who is based in the Student Wellbeing Service and can help you to make links with the other teams within the service if required. The Student Wellbeing Service will not share any information about you or your engagement with our service without your permission.

The University has a Student Carer Policy that details the rights and responsibilities of students, staff and the university in relation to student carers.

The GCU Student Wellbeing Team have also produced a leaflet outlining support for Student Carers at GCU. You can also find out more about the experiences of our student carers, at our Student Carers Stories webpage. 

What support can GCU offer?

Our student wellbeing adviser, Christina Kelly, is a point of contact for student carers throughout their time at university. Christina is happy to be contacted by prospective students and applicants as well as current students, and can support you in a range of ways:

Applicants are advised to get in touch early so that they can find out about pre-entry supports and opportunities to apply for scholarships.

Christina can provide practical and emotional support to student carers throughout their time at GCU. She is happy for students to contact her at any time, or can also discuss setting up a more regular wellbeing check-in with individual students. We would also recommend signing up to the Student Wellbeing newsletter.

Christina can offer advice, signposting and referrals to other services and resources within GCU and externally. Please visit the Student Wellbeing webpages to find out more about the supports and resources available.

Christina can help you to create a Student Carer Plan. This document will formally verify that you are a carer and provide a way of communicating with your department about how your caring role might impact on your studies. The Student Carer Plan also provides an opportunity to request flexibility to help you balance your caring role with your studies. Some examples of flexibility that may be offered are:

  • Recognising the need to arrive late or leave early in order to place your cared for person(s) in appropriate daytime care
  • Agreeing periods of authorised absence and making arrangements for you to catch-up on lectures/tutorials missed for reasons relating to caring responsibilities to ensure that you are not at an academic disadvantage
  • Requesting advance notice of timetables where possible to allow you to make necessary alternative care arrangements and recognising that you may not be able to attend academic activities in the event of late changes to timetables
  • Ensuring that you have adequate opportunity to make up missed time e.g. through access to any missed materials, or rescheduling of practical activities
  • Taking account of caring responsibilities on courses which require an external placement. Priority should be given to ensuring the placement is within reasonable travelling distance to accommodate care arrangements
  • Providing at least a few weeks' notice of placements to allow the arrangement of alternative care
  • If viable, consideration of a transfer to part-time study (Please note that international students in the UK with a Tier 4 General Student Visa are not permitted to change to part-time study).

Christina is also happy to support students to participate in activism to raise the visibility of student carers and help you to have your voice heard. Please get in touch if this is something you would be interested in getting involved with.

Student Carers Support on the Common Good Podcast

Our Student Wellbeing Adviser and institution lead and contact for Student Carers spoke on the Common Good Podcast about the support available for student carers at GCU. This is available on Soundcloud and Spotify, and through our Student Carers Podcast Transcript

Funding for Student Carers

SAAS have created this document specifically for Student Carers to advise on what funding might be available to you.

You can also speak to our Student Funding Team who can advise on what funds could be accessible for you.

Hearing your experiences

Throughout the year the Student Wellbeing Service work both across the University and with external partners to gather the experiences of student carers to gain a better understanding of your needs whilst at University. Please see below for ongoing research projects and outcomes from previous research projects.

Student Carers Stories

Feedback from student carers has indicated that it would be helpful to include student carer stories on our web pages to help illustrate their experiences. If you would be interested in sharing your story, please go to our Student Carers Stories webpage.

GCU Student Carers Experience Survey

If you are a current student carer at GCU we want to hear your experiences!

This is an evaluation that we carry out yearly to find out about student carers’ experiences of studying at GCU. This survey will help us to get a better understanding of the needs of carers, including the impact of COVID19 and lockdown, and help us to prepare for the new academic year and try and make sure the voices  of student carers are heard.

Please take a few minutes to complete the survey and feel free to get in touch if there is anything you would like to comment on more fully.

This survey is different to the Carers Trust Scotland survey, which is gathering information from student carers at colleges and universities across Scotland. This will feed into a report that will influence practice and policy across the sector. If you haven’t already completed it, this survey remains open until Monday the 3rd of August.

Additionally, we are hoping to gather some quotes and testimonials from students (with permission) to display on a section of our web pages and help raise awareness of the lived experiences of student carers. If this is something you would like to participate in, please contact studentcarers@gcu.ac.uk

If you are an applicant, we would encourage you to get in touch and we can start putting support in place prior to your start date. Please contact studentcarers@gcu.ac.uk and our named student carer contact, Christina, will get back to you within 24-hours.

Carers Trust Scotland Covid-19 Experiences Research Outcomes

Carers Trust Scotland has conducted a survey of young carers (aged 12 to 17) and young adult carers (aged 18 to 25) in Scotland to find out how they have been impacted by Coronavirus.

The findings are important and represent the only national base of evidence on how young carers and young adult carers in Scotland have been impacted by Coronavirus. 

The results are extremely concerning. They show increases in stress, and a steep decline in mental health among young carers and young adult carers. They also highlight how the pandemic and lowdown has negatively impacted on young carers education.

Here are some headline findings:

  • 45% of young carers and 68% of young adult carers in Scotland say their mental health is worse as a result of Coronavirus
  • 71% of young carers and 85% of young adult carers in Scotland who responded to the survey were more worried about the future since coronavirus
  • 58% of young carers in Scotland say their education is suffering as a result of Coronavirus
  • 74% of young carers and 73% of young adult carers in Scotland who responded to the survey say they feel less connected to other than they did before the pandemic.

You can find out more about the survey and its findings by visiting the Carers Trust website.

Student Carers at GCU can receive support from the Student Wellbeing Service, the Wellbeing Adviser who is the named contact for Student Carers at the University, or from external support services detailed below. 

Feedback During Summer 2020

During 2020 we asked our Student Carers to tell us more about their experiences of lockdown and the impact of Covid19. We have collated their responses below: 

Impact of Covid 

  • 87% said it made it more challenging
  • 6% said it made it a bit easier
  • 6% said there was no impact
 
"Covid-19 has meant I don't have the same help from others (family, friends, nursery for childcare) due to lockdown measures. Getting time to study in peace has been impossible.
 
Having to break lockdown rules to see how my gran is doing as I worry what she’s up to when I’m not there
 
The flexibility of distance learning has been helpful and there has been no pressure to be on campus
 
I have found myself being more stressed as I am now worrying about caring and earning money but if I earn money I put my gran at risk. 
 
Have a flurry of assignments, But the deadlines have not changed. The impact of caring for kids and one with special needs whilst preparing them for P1 is not considered at this point
 
Found it extremely difficult to manage coursework/assessments whilst at home and being unable to "switch off" between caring duties and university
 
It's made things more challenging"
 


What would help under a blended learning model?

"I feel this would help as I wouldn’t have to rush to get into university everyday as the travel can be quite stressful after getting everyone at home organised. So blended learning will help with stress level
 
I think being online is a great help as it means I am able to care while listening into lectures… so if I missed any I would be able to go back into them and listen at more convenient date
 
As a student nurse I am to attend placement all year (full-time hours) and I just don't know if this is going to be possible.
 
Acknowledgement from the department about the fact that I am a primary carer for a special needs child.
 
Having access to documents that are read to you, providing students with software like Read and Write which reads documents, converts to audio etc. 
 
Flexible timetables for parents and Carers that don’t require a doctor’s note
 
More personal support"
 


General Comments about Support 

"Time is always an issue and life commitments vary at short notice due to health changes and appointments for the people I care for. I often have little to no control of when I will be needed at short notice. Allowing carers to spread out some coursework over the summer would help as full time uni is exhausting and then you have all this time during the summer. Even giving essay assignments out a few months prior to the start of term so that they could be completed early would be fine or letting us complete them later.
 
I think you already do a really good job
 
Fully online flexible learning would be ideal if it was well designed but this isn't possible due to the type of course I'm studying as it has a large practical element.
 
Just that I would endorse 1) ongoing and permanent option of distance learning, 2) proactive training/education of academic teaching staff on what caring involves and what it costs students emotionally, socially, physically, psychologically, financially. 3) anti-discrimination education re stigmatising carers and people with unseen disabilities or health conditions.
 
GCU has been so supportive and encouraging- the academic staff, finance staff and Christina Kelly. There is so many options available, it is so encouraging just knowing it’s there.
 
I wish lecturers and guidance would take the carers statuses more seriously. Although I have a carers assessment in place it isn't taken seriously.
 
Promote the support available more as I wasn’t aware of the support for a while
 
Wanted to thank university for help they gave me last year"

External Support

GCU work closely with external partners to enhance the experiences of student carers. Below you can find some information regarding some online mindfulness sessions with our partners at East End Community Carers, and some research from Carers Trust Scotland into the experiences of student carers during Covid-19. 

Mindfulness for Student Carers

East End Community Carers are continuing to offer free mindfulness sessions for carers on Zoom.

The sessions are every Wednesday at 13:30pm. There is no need to sign up ahead of the session.

The session can be accessed here, (there will not be a session on the 19th of August). Find out more at their website

Helpful Guides

HOPE have created this fantastic guide for students who are supporting ill or disabled family members. It is written by young people and offers tips for students in similar situations.  

The Open University offers these free online modules for carers and for managers supporting carers in employment.

Carers Trust Scotland

Carers Trust Scotland is the largest provider of carers support services in Scotland. GCU has been working in partnership with Carers Trust Scotland for the past few years to help us work towards the Going Higher Award and ensure we are doing our best to support student carers. Find out more about their research and the Going Higher Award here:

Find out more about the Going Higher Award that GCU achieved in 2017 and what we must continue to do to ensure good practice. 

Find out how you can support the Carers Trust’s work to support student carers in Scotland – this includes useful information about how students and campaigners can get involved.

To find out more about what they do, please visit their webpages.

Carers Scotland

Carers Scotland can help by giving advice, information and support. Their webpages are a great resource for information.

Mind

Mind work to ensure people look after their mental health. They have local carer support groups that can be a huge help for people. Visit these webpages for up to date information.

National Union of Students

This NUS webpage has some helpful advice and guidance for student carers. 

Which? Elderly Care

Which? Elderly Care is a source of free and independent information and advice on care choices for older people across the UK. It's a not-for-profit branch of Which? and will always be completely free to use. 

GCU Students' Association Student Carers Group

At GCU Students' Association there is an a representation group for Student Carers

 

The Student Carers' Group exists to represent the interests of all Student Carers studying at GCU.

 

The Student Carers Officer with GCU and GCU Students' Associations to enhance the student experience of students with caring responsibilities.

 

The Student Carers' Officer for 2019/20 is: 

Gilliam Poynts (Officer)

 

The officer team can be contacted at SCOfficer@GCUStudents.co.uk .

 

Find out more by joining the group at GCU Students' Association