Scheme to support young adult carers in further education gets six-figure National Lottery boost

A pioneering scheme which improves the quality of support for young adult carers in further education is set to expand to colleges across the UK, thanks to a six-figure grant from The National Lottery Community Fund.

Learning and Work Institute has been awarded nearly £350,000 over the next three years and will work alongside the Carers Federation to deliver the Driving Change project, which will provide high-quality support to young carers in over 60 colleges in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The announcement comes as part of Colleges Week (14 – 18 October), which sees further education institutions across the country showcase the brilliant work they do, as well as raise awareness of the challenges that colleges and their students face.

The grant was awarded following a successful pilot programme managed by Learning and Work Institute, in which young carers at six colleges benefitted from tailored, one-on-one support.

The Driving Change project will enable this support to be offered in dozens of colleges up and down the country. It will be based on a new Quality Standard in Carers Support framework, developed by Learning and Work Institute and the Carers Federation to help colleges review, improve and evaluate their provision for their students with caring responsibilities.

Nicola Aylward, head of learning for young people at Learning and Work Institute said:

“A caring role can have a significant impact on a young person’s experiences and life chances. On average, young adult carers achieve the equivalent of nine lower GCSE grades compared to their peers and they are much more likely to drop out of education.

“Providing colleges with the awareness and tools to support young adult carers studying with them is key to improving the experiences and life chances for those young people.

“We’re so pleased to receive this grant from The National Lottery Community Fund - it will help us make a difference to the lives of young adult carers in further education right across the UK.”

Joe Ferns, UK Director at The National Lottery Community Fund, added:

“Learning and Work Institute plays a vital role in helping young carers both manage their caring responsibilities and realise their educational ambitions, and this in turn will help them to thrive. That’s why we are delighted National Lottery funding is supporting the Driving Change project to expand across the UK following their successful trial.”

There are around 300,000 young adult carers in England. Despite providing invaluable care and support, these young people face significant disadvantage in learning and work. Evidence suggests that they achieve lower grades at GCSE, they are three times as likely to be NEET compared to their peers, and they are four times as likely to drop out of college and university.1

Each college that participated in the pilot programme reported an array of positive outcomes, including: increased retention and attainment of students with caring responsibilities; increased staff confidence in identifying and supporting young adult carers; improved data collection and monitoring of young adult carers at their college and improved job satisfaction for college staff. Many colleges were also able to build useful relationships and networks with local carers services, councils, and other colleges taking part in the project.

Young adult carers are young people aged 16-24 who provide unpaid care to someone, usually a family member, on a regular basis. It’s estimated that these young people provide £5.5bn of unpaid care per year. 2

Find out how your college can get involved and register your interest here.

The National Lottery Community Fund distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Last year it awarded over half a billion pounds (£511.1 million) of life-changing funding to communities across the UK and supported over 12,000 projects to turn their great ideas into reality.



1 A survey of young adult carers studying at college indicates a 29% drop out rate, which is almost 5 times the current UK average of 6.2% (Hidden from View: The experience of young carers in England; Sempik and Becker (2014)).

2 In total, these young people provide over £5.5bn of unpaid care per year and over one in ten young adult carers provide 50 or more hours of unpaid care per week (Census, 2011).

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