South Eastern Regional College (@S_ERC) is taking part in Young Carers Action Day on 16 March to raise awareness of young carers and the contribution they make to their family and the greater society.
Kieran McKenna, SERC Campus Manager (Bangor) and SERC Lead Carer said,
“There are over 8,500 (Action for Children, November 2020) young people across Northern Ireland who currently take on an unpaid caring role which impacts on their education, well-being and careers.
He added, “Most student carers do not self-identify as carers and therefore miss out on vital support or have little knowledge of their rights as carers. At SERC, we are working with the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust (SEHSCT) and Action for Children to provide comprehensive support for student carers – including policy and student carer initiatives, developed with student carers in the College – to ensure that everyone can access any support they need.
Kieran added, “There are many positive aspects associated with being a student carer. Along with everything they have to manage, these young people will often display a greater respect for others, greater empathy and resilience skills and have closer family relationships, so it is important that we recognise the contribution they make to their family, the College and society.”
Alexis Rooney (19) from Killough, is in the final year of the Level 3 Health and Social Care at SERC’s Downpatrick Campus. Alexis became a young carer at the age of 15 when her mother suffered a stroke. She is also a carer for her brother who was born with verbal dyspraxia. Alexis said, “My mother took a stroke about 5 years ago and this affects her speech, her memory and her emotions. I don’t have to be with my mother at all times as her condition changes day-to-day. She will need more help on some days than others, but because I am the only person to care for my mother, it means there is a large responsibility on me to make sure she is okay.
She added, “I volunteered to get involved in the Young Carer Support Services at SERC so I could help shape the policies and procedures that were aimed at helping people like me. I felt it was vital to get across that no two young carers needs are the same and being a young carer can be a totally different experience for everyone.
“Having a Young Carer Card at SERC identifies me as a young carer. It saves a lot of time explaining when I must step out of a class to take a call relating to my mother’s care, arrive in late or need to rush home early. My course and my education are important, but I have other priorities and responsibilities that I need to deal with first. I have found the card particularly useful if there is a new tutor as it means they instantly know I am a Young Carer and some flexibility is required.”