Greg Otto

@COLEGCAMBRIA is among the first 10 institutions in the UK to be recognised for its work as part of a transformational project with young adult carers.

The college has received QSCS (Quality Standard in Carer Support) accreditation from The Learning and Work Institute for its role in the Driving Change initiative.

Launched in 2019, the three-year scheme – in partnership with The Carers Federation and supported by the National Lottery Community Fund – brought 60 further education colleges from Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland together to review their provision for young adult carers and implement actions to achieve better outcomes for them.

National data revealed they are three times more likely to be NEET (not in education, employment or training) as other young people and five times more likely to drop out of college.

Greg Otto, a Student Services Manager at Cambria, said by understanding their needs and putting effective support in place, they and the other participants can reverse that trend.

“The college is committed to ensure any students with caring responsibilities have a level playing field on which to succeed with their studies,” said Greg.

“We understand that these learners have a lot of extra commitments to contend with every day, and often college is their sanctuary, so it’s important we not only acknowledge this but are committed to put in the extra support to help them achieve their goals.”

Six colleges took part in a pilot of the project in 2018; outcomes included increased retention, attendance and progression rates for students with caring responsibilities, improved data collection and monitoring, and a boost in staff confidence.

Among the tasks carried out by Cambria was the development of an action plan addressing areas in need of improvement – with input from young carers – and efforts to build new relationships and reinforce existing partnerships with local care organisations to ensure a joined-up approach.

Head of Learning for Young People, Nicola Aylward, who is leading the project on behalf of The Learning and Work Institute, said they were “delighted” to work with the college.

“Despite the challenges linked to Covid-19 and working across multiple sites, they have shown real commitment to improving outcomes for young adult carers,” she said.

“Young adult carers make a huge and vital contribution to their families and society, yet, without good support they are almost five times more likely to drop out of college compared to their peers.

“The College's introduction of a new policy, alongside staff training and the development of materials to raise awareness of young adult carers' needs will make a real difference to these young people's lives.

“The work the college has undertaken has been underpinned by a commitment to give young adult carers a strong voice in shaping the support that is available to them. Coleg Cambria is one of the first colleges to achieve the QSCS through Driving Change and should be congratulated for its achievements.”

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