A student has been sharing his experiences of being a young carer on Young Carers Awareness Day (Thursday 30 January).
20-year-old Ronan Palmer from Ipswich is a carer for his mum who he says has “an invisible physical disability”.
The final year Psychology and Youth Studies student didn’t identify himself as a ‘carer’ until he was 15 years old. Ronan said “My little sister was identified as a ‘young carer’ by her primary school janitor, and this meant she received an assessment along my brother and I. I never saw myself as a carer; it wasn’t until I went to my first carer's support group and met some other young carers that I realised that my experiences were valid as well.”
“Being a young carer is hard, I won’t lie. When it comes to my everyday uni work, like reading, I try to pair it with something that doesn't require too much focus, like washing dishes or folding clothes. Assignment writing needs my undivided attention though, so I tend to do it in blocks. If I need to do a lot of work in a short space of time, I'll organise for someone to take over my ‘caring role’ for a day so I can do a large chunk of work.”
The University of Suffolk will be hosting two events next month specifically for young carers. On 18 February the University will host a group of students from Essex Young Carers for the first time followed by a group of young carers from Suffolk on 19 February.
Outreach Officer, Owen Evans, said “We are really looking forward to welcoming young carers from across the county next month, something we have done for many years. This year, for the first time we will be joined by a group from Essex Young Carers too. It is our aim to make sure young carers know that university is an option for them. Many are worried that is out of reach due to their caring commitments, but we hope stories like Ronan’s can be a source of inspiration. The University can offer young carers a lot of support so they can stay at home, if they choose to, and attend university.”
Ronan has this advice for any young carers considering university “Firstly, don't be afraid to seek help. The University's Student Services are very helpful when it comes to seeking extensions and can also provide resources that may help. Most lecturers are also very likely to understand and support you where they can, but both of these will involve you highlighting that you identify as a carer. The Students’ Union also has a specific officer for students with caring responsibilities who can support you with activities and appeals, if required.”
“My second piece of advice is to try to give yourself enough time to get your work done to the best of your ability. I'd recommend trying to negotiate a regular time for you to study, and have someone take over your caring role, if that's possible - if not, then try to multitask with the less intense stuff.”
University of Suffolk Press Office
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