Education Education

Your Future

As a young adult, you are at an important stage of your life.  You may be struggling to balance your caring role with the time and space you need for your education, but there is advice and support available to help you build a positive future.

All schools, colleges, universities and employers have a responsibility to recognise your role as a carer, and they have a legal duty to consider how they can support you.  In fact after a successful campaign was launched by a young adult carer a tick box on the UCAS application form will be added so that carers can identify themselves upon application, read more about it here.  It’s important that you know your rights so that you can get the help and support you are entitled to.


School may be an opportunity for you to get away from your caring worries for a while, but it can also bring extra pressures.  For example, you may struggle to keep up to date with your homework or you may have to miss school fairly often.

Getting behind at school or missing school can affect your whole future, so it’s important that you access the help and support that school can provide.

You are not alone, a typical secondary school may have up to 30 young carers in it.   School won’t be able to help until it knows about your caring role, this could mean talking to your teacher, head of year, educational welfare office or head of pastoral care.  Tell them about how caring affects you. You could also ask a parent to write to school for you to tell them about your caring role.  School should be able to offer things like:

  • Allowing you to have your phone on in lessons to keep in touch with home.
  • Giving you extra time for school work, especially when the person you care for is ill.
  • Talking to you privately about your home life.
  • Homework clubs.

Other people who can help you are:

  • Your GP - they can work with other professionals like social workers, to organise more support at home to help you concentrate on school or college.
  • Carers Support West Sussex – We have a dedicated Young Adult Carer Team who can offer you information and advice on what support is available to you.
  • Childline - Some people may not understand or value those who care for others and can even bully young carers.  If you are being bullied, tell a friend, parent or teacher about it or contact Childline free by calling 0800 1111, or visiting their website to access their online chat and counselling services. 

How Colleges and Universities Can Support You in Your Caring Role

Going to college or university can seem a daunting prospect to young people who care for someone.  Therefore many young adult carers are reluctant to continue onto college and may not even consider university.

However, studying in further or higher education can be hugely rewarding and can make a great difference to your life.  College and University can open up all kinds of options and give you a more positive future - and there are many way in which you can be supported in your continuing role as a carer.

Professor Saul Becker, himself a former young carer, is passionate about giving young adult carers a brighter future and has made this Youtube video showing the open day he held at Nottingham University for 150 young adult carers.  It is inspiring and well worth a watch. Click on the YouTube icon.


Further Education colleges and universities have policies and practices in place to support you, so that you are not disadvantaged and will have an equal opportunity to study on a course.

Colleges and universities all have services to help support you.  This might be in the form of a pastoral or learning mentor who can advise on any problems or life circumstances which might affect your ability to attend or progress on your course.  Student Unions will also have lots of advice and information to help support you.

Here are two young adult carers experiences of college whilst caring.

Jacqui’s story:

Jacqui’s mum had been seriously ill for many years and Jacqui, cared for her.  When Jacqui left school she got a place at college on an Equine Studies course to work with horses, which she loves.  Although it wasn’t always easy to balance college and caring, Jacqui got a lot of support from college and especially from her tutor.  Sadly, Jacqui’s mum died towards the end of her college course, but with the support and understanding of her college, she completed the course and now has a really valuable qualification, as well as a great sense of achievement.  Further education helped Jacqui to escape some of the daily difficulties in her life and gave her another perspective on the future.

David’s Story: 

David had a really complex caring role - looking after both his mum and his younger sister.  His social life was extremely limited so going to college for two days a week provided a lifeline and some breathing space in his week.  David studied computer game design.  College was very understanding about David’s caring role and was even able to help him financially – including covering his transport costs.   

How Can I afford to go to College or University?

Many courses at college in reading, writing and basic maths are free, and you may not have to pay for tuition if you’re under 24 and studying for your first qualification equivalent to GCSE or A level.

There is also a range of financial help available to go to college if you meet specific criteria or are receiving income-related benefits, this could include help with not only the cost of your course, but help with your day-to-day living costs and childcare.  More information on this help can be found here.

And, if you spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone with substantial caring needs, and that person claims benefits related to their needs, you may be able to claim Carer’s Allowance (if studying part-time for less than 21 hours per week).

There is also help with the cost of university.  Most students today finance their courses through a student loan, but there is other help available in the way of scholarships, bursaries and a hardship fund.   For more information click here.

Carers Support West Sussex may also be able help you with a grant from our Carers Wellbeing Fund, for more information click here.