University of Winchester joins new alliance created to bring change for young carers and young adult carers

16 Mar 2022
A young woman pushing an older woman in a wheelchair on the grass towards the sunlight

The University of Winchester has joined a coalition of more than 30 organisations and individuals to launch the Young Carers Alliance, a new network which aims to provide a stronger collective voice for young carers and those who support them.

The announcement comes on national Young Carers Action Day (16 March), which aims to raise awareness of the struggle and importance of young carers across the country.

Spearheaded by charity Caring Together, members of the Alliance include representatives from research, policy and practice who are all committed to bringing about improved outcomes for all young carers and their families. The network includes Barnardo’s and The Children’s Society.

“Here at Winchester, we believe that anyone who has the aspiration and ability to go to university should be able to do so, whatever their circumstances or background,” said Sarah Harder-Collins, Head of Participation and Success at the University of Winchester.

“Some people, such as young carers and young adult carers, need a lot of support and encouragement to overcome often very challenging circumstances. We are delighted to be a part of the Young Carers Alliance and look forward to sharing expertise and collaborating with others who also work to support young carers and provide them with opportunities to thrive.”

Thousands of children and young people are negatively affected by the impact of their caring responsibilities.

The University of Winchester actively works to build aspirations and support the educational progression of young carers in higher education. This has included running outreach sessions to voluntary sector young carers projects; contributing to a toolkit aimed at helping other universities support young carers; offering the Lady Mary Bursary for Young Adult Carers, and acting as exemplar on how it is possible to include young adult carers in access arrangements.

Dr Amy Warhurst and Dr Sarah Bayless in the University’s Department of Psychology have been instrumental in helping to set up the Young Carers Alliance, presenting their research into young carers in schools at an online forum hosted by the Alliance.

This research is the first step of a larger study, where teachers from Hampshire schools were invited to interviews to discuss their experiences of identifying and supporting young carers within schools, and any barriers or enablers to this support. The analysis of this research will be published in due course and aims to share best practice. Subsequent research is planned to elicit the experiences of other UK schools and of young carers themselves.

Andy McGowan, Caring Together’s Head of Engagement, said: “Thousands of children and young people across the country have caring roles where, despite the formal rights they have, they are still being negatively affected by the impact of their caring responsibilities.

“Their education, health and wellbeing, social lives and other opportunities in life can all suffer. Many do not feel they are listened to by medical and social care professionals and many are going far too long without the support they need.

“We at Caring Together, and the growing number of members of the Young Carers Alliance, are committed to changing this and improving the support available to young carers, young adult carers and their families.”

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