Newcastle College has been awarded Quality Standard from The Carer’s Federation in recognition of its support provision for young carers.
Working across the UK to offer support to carers and educate organisations on the obstacles faced by them, The Carer’s Federation developed The Quality Standard in Carer Support (QSCS) as an accreditation for employers and further education providers.
It recognises best practice in supporting students with caring responsibilities in an effort to improve the experience of carers in education and employment.
The Standard sets out a set of strict criteria to work towards, with QSCS status being awarded once these criteria are met. Achieving the Standard demonstrates a commitment to the inclusion and support of carers within an organisation.
Still in its pilot phase, the Standard is due to be rolled out across the UK over the next three years, making Newcastle College one of the first in the country to receive the accolade.
The College’s involvement in the pilot came following last year’s Carer Friendly Communities Awards, an annual ceremony hosted by local charity Newcastle Carers, to recognise those who have made an extra effort to support friends and colleagues in their caring roles.
Maxine Johnson, Lead Learning Mentor at Newcastle College, was presented with an award after being nominated by a student with caring responsibilities. She was then selected to lead a project team to achieve QSCS status for the College.
Achieving the Standard took three months, during which time the team worked alongside The Carer’s Federation to gather evidence of support measures in place at the College, while identifying and implementing improvements.
Some of the changes include enhancements to enrolment in order to identify the needs of carers at an early stage, holding Young Carers Awareness days and placing ‘champions’ in each school within the College, to ensure support can be easily accessed when carers need it.
The College’s ongoing partnership with Newcastle Carers was noted by assessors as one of its strongest support provisions. The charity works with the College to educate staff and students on the needs of young carers and the impact their caring responsibilities may have on their education, as well as meeting with students in caring roles. Following the College’s application for QSCS status, the charity supported the project with advice and recommendations.
Claire Briston, Young Adult Carers Worker at Newcastle Carers commented: “We’ve worked closely with Newcastle College to help staff and students understand more about the needs of carers and received a really positive and enthusiastic response. Young Adult Carers can often face additional challenges in education, as it can be hard to manage time and balance caring responsibilities.
“It is fantastic to see that Newcastle College have received a Carers Federation Quality Standard for all of the hard work they’ve put into ensuring the College is a carer friendly environment. Since we started working in partnership with Newcastle College we’ve seen fantastic developments; staff have improved carer awareness and are ensuring that students with a caring role are given appropriate support.”
Maxine Johnson said: “Working to achieve QSCS status has been a really positive experience and to be recognised by The Carers Federation is a great achievement.
“Young adult carers can often find it difficult to balance education with their caring responsibilities so the work our Learning Mentors do to provide practical and emotional support is really important. I hope that we can continue to improve that support and remove barriers to learning for those that need it.
“A special thanks must also go to Claire and the team at Newcastle Carers who’s support and guidance has been invaluable throughout the process.”
Rachel Walker, Service Manager at The Carers Federation said: “Newcastle College has demonstrated its commitment to young adult carers by achieving the Carers Federation ‘Quality Standard in Carer Support’.
“This work has implemented new and improved systems of support for carers that will enable them to have improved access to further education and greater awareness that enhances both their college experience and personal learning outcomes.
“The involvement and communication of the staff team clearly evidences the care and support they give to their students and the desire to ensure that young people with barriers to education are supported to achieve their aspirations.”
Tony Lewin, Newcastle College Principal, added: “A brilliant student experience is at the heart of everything we do and this includes supporting learners’ journeys during their time at Newcastle College.
“Achieving the Quality Standard has raised awareness within the College of the difficulties often faced by carers and has helped us to ensure we’re providing the right support and guidance for them throughout their journey with us.
“We’re very proud to achieve QSCS status and my thanks go to the team for their work on this project and their continuous hard work supporting our students.”