Sunderland College has been awarded Quality Standard from the Carers Federation in recognition of its outstanding work in supporting young and young adult carers.
The assessment by the Carers Federation highlighted the college’s commitment to embed support for those with caring responsibilities at all levels of the college structure, evidenced through interviews with staff and partners.
To achieve the Standard, teams worked alongside the Carers Federation to gather evidence of good practice, while identifying and implement improvements.
Sunderland College demonstrated how it identifies young and adult carers as a vulnerable group and develops a personalised support plan to support them throughout their college journey from induction onwards.
Collaboration across different departments was praised for delivering real change and positive outcomes, as was the emphasis of creating inclusive opportunities for young and adult carers to unlock their potential and achieve by considering their individual strengths and needs.
Involving student carers to develop resources, review processes and act as ‘carer champions’ provides learning and development opportunities for young carers and helps them to feel valued was also commended.
The college’s working relationship with Sunderland Carers Centre was noted as one of its strongest provisions with the charity delivering training to raise awareness of the impact caring may have on a young person’s education as well as offering ongoing support.
Assessors applauded the excellent work being done within local secondary schools and academies to identify young carers’ and support their transition into further education.
Nicola Warburton, Head of Student Experience and Carers Lead at Sunderland College, said: “To be recognised by the Carers Federation is a great achievement for everyone involved and gaining QSCS status is a testament to their hard work.
“Young carers often find it difficult to balance their education with their caring responsibilities and it is vital we remove barriers to learning and support them to achieve their potential with the right guidance and opportunities.
“Special thanks must be given to Sunderland Carers Centre for all of their guidance which has been invaluable.”
The Carer’s Federation Quality Standard in Carer Support has been developed by carers to provide accreditation and training to remove barriers and improve the experience of carers in further education and employment across the UK.
Setting out a strict set of criteria to work towards, achieving the Standard demonstrates an organisation’s commitment to the inclusion and support of carers.
Lisa Watson, Carer Services Manager at Sunderland Carers Centre, added: “We have worked in partnership with Sunderland College for a number of years to highlight the issues both adult and young carers face in accessing and maintaining attendance in further education. We find that many young carers do not consider that college and then possibly higher education can be a possibility for them due to their caring roles.
“We are thrilled to learn that the college has achieved the Quality Standard, we are already hearing from our young carers the difference this is making to them and how transition from secondary school to college has been much smoother due to the college understanding their needs and knowing that someone is available to support them.”
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