Careers support inspires Morecambe young carer to study

A young carer from Morecambe is considering university for the first time, after completing a mentoring course with a leading careers advice programme.

By Gayle Rouncivell
Friday, 24th June 2022, 3:53 pm

Future U, which works with schools and colleges across Lancashire to encourage more young people to consider higher education, is running a series of mentoring sessions with young carers to encourage them to apply for higher education when they leave school.

Research shows that young carers are twice as likely to end up out of education, employment or training when they leave school, while one in four young carers says that their caring responsibilities have prevented them from going to university.

For Serena, 15, from Morecambe, her caring duties meant she thought she wouldn’t be able to attend university, until her opinion was changed after visiting the University of Central Lancashire in the spring to find out about what education support was on offer. The mentoring course involved talking to the young carers about the process of applying to university, life while studying, exams and coursework, and how student finance works.

A selection of the young carers, including Serena, on their visit to UCLan.

Serena said: “The Future U course has made me think that it would be possible for me to attend higher education and to get a degree in what I want to do and perhaps get a higher qualification after I graduate.”

“I previously thought I would only be able to go to college and not attend university but my aim now, after finishing high school, is to go to college and do a public service course as well as doing a course on criminology. Once I have finished college, I would like to go on to university and study higher criminology.”

Future U’s mentoring sessions, delivered in partnership with Barnardo’s, help young carers to explore ways to overcome their barriers to education, as well as information on the support available to them in applying for university. The sessions allow the young carers to get equal access to the training and development that will guide them in their employment, education, and personal lives.

Rachel Ibram, from the Lancashire Young Carers Service at Barnardo’s, added: “Many of the young carers we support juggle their caring role alongside their education, amongst many other responsibilities, and feel that there is a lot to consider when deciding on their future.

This mentoring programme has allowed them to explore their options and develop new skills in a safe space. The programme has provided our young carers with the opportunity to ask questions of people who have the right information to support them, meet other young carers facing similar challenges and to make the first step in considering their future in further education.”

Oliver Norris, outreach officer at Future U, said: “Caring at a young age is a big responsibility and it’s easy for some young carers to struggle to see how they could live a regular teenage life and go on to study at university and get a degree.

“However, there is plenty of support available for anybody who wants to continue studying and anybody who is keen to find out more can speak to their school teacher or visit our website.

It is estimated that there are around 800,000 young carers in England, equivalent to six young carers in every secondary school in the country.

Future U works across Lancashire to increase the career and higher education knowledge of young people and encourage teenagers to think about studying at university and their career aspirations.

The project also supports families and young people from areas which are currently underrepresented in higher education, including Fleetwood and Blackpool, Burnley and Blackburn, Morecambe, Preston, Leyland and Chorley, Ormskirk and Skelmersdale, and works with adult learners, children in care, young carers and students from military families.

Since the start of the project in 2017, Future U has delivered more than 1,100 careers activities across 70 schools and colleges in the area, in addition to creating a range of educational and careers resources available to download from its website, www.lancashirefutureu.org.uk.

Future U is part of the national Uni Connect Programme, funded by the Office for Students, and involves institutions and organisations across the county including University of Central Lancashire, Lancaster University, Edge Hill University and the University of Cumbria. Its list of partners also include Blackburn College, The Blackpool Sixth Form College, Blackpool and the Fylde College, Burnley College, Cardinal Newman College, Kendal College, Lancashire County Council, Lancashire Enterprise Partnership, Lancaster and Morecambe College, Myerscough College, Nelson and Colne College Group, Preston College, STEMFirst, Runshaw College, The Lancashire Colleges, West Lancashire College, University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust.

For more details, visit www.lancashirefutureu.org.uk