Students who are carers

Do you spend time looking after or helping a friend, partner or family member due to illness, disability, frailty or addiction? The care you provide may be personal, practical, emotional or supervisory and is unpaid. If this applies to you then you are a carer.

You are not alone

It may feel as if the default image of a student is still one of a young ‘carefree’ individual, but students with caring responsibilities are estimated to make up between 3-6% of the student population

We recognise that trying to fit studying around your caring responsibilities, not to mention work and other commitments can be challenging. Below is some information you might find useful, including an overview of what support is available at Sheffield Hallam and who you can speak to if you are finding things difficult.

Who to tell about your caring responsibilities

It might be helpful to tell someone about your caring responsibilities before you start your course, particularly if you anticipate that there might be issues around lateness, attendance or meeting your deadlines if something unexpected happens. University staff will try very hard to support you on your course if they are aware that there are problemstalking.

As a SHU student you will have a Student Support Officer linked to your course team. This person is your key contact for any course related issues and they can talk to you about the kind of on course support that is available at Sheffield Hallam. You can find out who your Student Support Officer is and how you can meet them by contacting your faculty office.

If you feel you would like to talk to someone outside your course team in the first instance, then you can also seek help from Student Advisers in the University’s Student Services Centres. These staff are separate from your faculty and will try their best to understand any issues you are facing and give you time and space to talk things through. If appropriate Student Advisers will liaise with faculty staff on your behalf, particularly if you are experiencing issues which are affecting your ability to study effectively.

Finally the Student’s Union Advice Centre is separate from the university and can see students about course issues, legal issues, student funding, benefits, debt and housing. If you think you would feel more comfortable speaking to someone outside the University about your situation, then you could start by speaking to someone at the Advice Centre. As they are independent of the University, the Advice Centre is also able (in certain situations) to represent students who feel they are not getting the support they need from the University.

Feel like getting in touch?

If you would like to access support you can email our named contacts for care leavers, Emily and Robin, here at transitions@shu.ac.uk. Alternatively, you can contact our Student Support Services Reception. You can contact us whatever your question – no matter how big or small!

SHU Carers Support Group

We’ve created a new Facebook group for students with caring responsibilities. Here you can contact us directly if you have any questions or queries about University or if you need support. You can find information and tips about being a carer whilst at university. You can also connect with other carers and make new friends, which may make your time at university that little bit easier.

It’s easy to get involved! Simply follow the link to our group page and click join!

Getting support for yourself

There is evidence to show that caring responsibilities can have an effect on carers own health and wellbeing. There are a range of services which you can access as a student at SHU to help you look after your own physical and mental wellbeing:

Carers in Sheffield

Carers in Sheffield is a group of local services offering advice, information, support groups and a free newsletter for carers four times a year. They run the Carers Support and Information service, which is staffed by trained professionals who understand the pressures of caring and can help you with any aspect of your caring role. The Carers Support and Information service can give you lots of the information you need as a carer, for example about:

  • understanding how the social care system works
  • your rights as a carer
  • respite services, and taking a break from caring
  • In Safe Hands – Carer’s Emergency Scheme (Sheffield Residents only)
  • benefits and other financial matters and lots more

You can also contact the service to talk about your caring role – the person listening will understand how you are feeling. To contact the service, please call 0114 272 8362. Lines are open 9am – 6pm any weekday (answerphone service outside these hours). Alternatively you can send an email to support@sheffieldcarers.org.uk

Carers in Sheffield, also run a number of support groups for carers and a buddying scheme for carers in their 20s, 30s and 40s. Slightly differently from the support groups, the buddying scheme is an opportunity to be in contact with other ‘younger adult carers’ and have someone to call, email or meet up with who recognises the pressures you are under.

Take a look at their website for further information and if you can’t see a group that looks suitable for you then you can always contact the Carers Support and Information service to discuss alternative ways of getting support.

For young adult carers aged 18-21:
As well as getting support from Carers in Sheffield, if you aged 21 or under and live in Sheffield, you can also access support from Sheffield Young Carers Project. They offer group and one-to-one support, as well as trips and outings where you can have a break from your caring role. If you would like to find out more, you can check their website or phone 0114 258 4595.

Planning your time

As a SHU student you can access your personal timetable online at any time using either

  • shuspace, the student portal (see the timetables channel on the ‘My SHU’ tab)
  • SHUgo, the university app

Returning students can access timetables for the new academic year two weeks before the start of teaching. New students can access their timetables after enrolment. If you want further information about the teaching time on your course or if you anticipate there might be problems or clashes with your timetable, then you can speak to your faculty office for some advice. You can find the details of your faculty office on the ‘Virtual Helpdesk’ links on the ‘My Faculty’ channels on shuspace.

If you haven’t started your course yet, you can find contact details for your faculty here.

The university also runs workshops where you can get advice and develop strategies for planning your time and your studies more effectively

Finding suitable spaces to study

If you are balancing a range of commitments then finding time and space to study can be difficult. Our Learning Centres are open 24/7, 365 days a year and have a range of study spaces available. It can sometimes be hard to find a PC during busy times, but remember adsettsPCs and other resources are available to book online in advance. You can also borrow laptops from the Learning Centre and use the PCs in the PC labs if these rooms aren’t in use. Evenings and weekends are also generally much quieter times to study in the University.

If you can’t stay on campus to study, then remember you can still access shuspace, your home drive, emails and other services remotely. See our Mobile and off campus access FAQs for more information. IT and library help is also available 24/7 on 0114 225 3333.

What to do if something unexpected happens

When you are providing care for someone, whether it’s for children, an older family member, friend or relative, it’s more than a full time job, it’s a way of life. It’s likely that you will have developed some strategies to combine your caring responsibilities with other demands such as study or work commitments. However, these strategies can easily be put under pressure when something unexpected happens.

We know caring can often be unpredictable, so if events beyond your control relating to your caring responsibilities mean you are:

  • regularly arriving late or leaving early
  • missing lectures, seminars, tutorials or other teaching activities
  • worried you won’t be able to complete work to your usual standards
  • worried about meeting deadlines or being able to attend exams

Mature studentthen there are people you can talk about this. If staff are aware that you are having difficulties then they will do what they can to help. Don’t feel you have to struggle on until you are unable keep up with your studies, make sure you speak to someone as soon as possible.

You can do directly to your faculty Student Support Officer to discuss things or if don’t feel comfortable speaking to someone from your course team in the first instance then you can always speak to a Student Adviser or someone from the Student’s Union Advice Centre first.

Illness and difficult circumstances policies

The university has processes in place to support students who are experiencing difficulties which are impacting on their ability to study. Depending on your situation, you might be able to apply for a

All of these processes are managed by your faculty and you can get further advice about how to make any of these requests from your Student Support Officer. Student Advisers or the Student’s Union Advice Centre can also advise you on these requests.

Note about Extenuating Circumstances (ECs)

In order to be fair to all students an EC Panel will only take into consideration the information you provide on your RRAA request and any supporting evidence you supply. If fluctuations, instability or even a crisis in the care you are providing to someone have had an effect on your ability to study effectively then you need to explain this on your RRAA request. It is also important to explain the impact any change in your caring role might have had on either the systems you normally have in place to study effectively whilst caring or on your own personal health and wellbeing.

Guidance and support on how to complete RRAA requests is available from the Student’s Union Advice Centre.

Managing Finances

Caring for someone can involve additional costs which can be hard to manage if you are a student. As a household you might already be experiencing reduced financial circumstances if the person needing care can no longer work, is in receipt calcof sick pay or benefits. That’s why it’s important to find out about what financial support you are entitled to firstly as a student and secondly as someone with caring responsibilities.

The majority of UK and EU students are entitled to student loans to cover the cost of tuition fees. Full time students are also entitled to loans to help with living costs. Although the thought of taking out a large loan can be daunting, remember you are able to repay student loans gradually through small monthly repayments. These begin after you have completed your course and only if you are earning over £21,000. And if you have not finished paying it off after 30 years, the debt is cancelled and you pay nothing more.

Your student loan entitlement is worked out on your household income from the previous financial year. This might be problematic if you have taken on caring responsibilities within the last year or so and your financial circumstances have changed considerably as a result. In this case it is possible to request a “current year assessment” from your funding body (e.g. Student Finance England) in order to take into account your new financial situation. You can get advice on this and any other issues you might be facing with your funding body, by speaking to our Student Funding and Access Support team based on Level 5 of the Owen Building at City.

Please note: if you are doing a healthcare course then funding arrangements will differ. See http://www.nhsbsa.nhs.uk/students or speak to our Student Funding and Access Support team for more information.

Other government funding and state benefits

As a student with caring responsibilities you may be able to claim other government funding or state benefits depending on your circumstances. The Advice Centre has produced the following guides as a starting point for students who have dependents or who are thinking about claiming benefits

However, this can be a complex area and specialist advice is often needed to help work out entitlement. Luckily the Student’s Union Advice Centre also provides specialist money and benefits advice to students, so you can either pop in and see them in person or give them a call to discuss your situation in more detail.

Carer specific funds

The family fund provides grants to low-income families raising disabled and seriously ill children and young people. They can help with essential items such as washing machines, fridges and clothing but can also consider grants for sensory toys, computers and much needed family breaks together. See their website for full details.

Additional financial support

Student Success Scholarship

The Student Success Scholarship is for new Home undergraduate students starting in 2017 and is designed to help you succeed at Sheffield Hallam.

 

Hallam Hardship Fund

The Hallam Hardship Fund is a means tested scheme for undergraduate and PGCE UK or home status. Special consideration is given to students with caring responsibilities and the fund is designed to assist with the one of two circumstances:

Strict criteria apply, and you will need to evidence that you are a carer by stating one of the following on your application:

  • You were on the University’s Compact Scheme on the basis of your caring responsibilities
  • You have made contact with one of our Student Carer Advisers in the Student Services Centre about your caring responsibilities.

You can find out more about this and apply online here.

Finding flexible work

As a student with caring responsibilities you might not be able to work as much as you would like, which is another reason you might find your finances that bit tighter than students without caring responsibilities.

If you are looking for flexible work which will fit around your other commitments then you might want to register with the University Campus Jobs service. This service advertises opportunities for students to work casual and part time hours in a variety of roles based within the University. You can also call into the Careers and Employability Centre at City Campus or the Student Services Centre at Collegiate Campus for advice on finding local part time work.

Philippa Fairfax is your designated Employability Adviser, she can offer help and advice with

  • Job search
  • Producing a quality CV & Covering letter
  • Completing successful applications
  • Preparing for Video Interviews
  • Improving Interview/Presentation skills
  • Succeeding in Psychometric Tests & Assessment Centres

You can book an appointment with Philippa online here , at the Careers and Employability Centre or email her directly at p.fairfax@shu.ac.uk

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Research has shown that students with caring responsibilities who do work are more likely to work 3, 4 or 5 days a week. If you are combining significant part time work with study and caring and still struggling to make ends meet then we would strongly suggest talking to staff from the Student’s Union Advice Centre to see if there is any government funding, allowances or benefits to which you might be entitled. The Student’s Union Advice Centre can also provide support with money management and budgeting skills to help you find ways of making any money you do earn through part time work go further.

 

 

Useful Resources

Take a look at our handy Welcome Booklet for real student stories, top tips, useful resources and a summary of the support available to student carers at Sheffield Hallam.

Carer Welcome Booklet cover

You can find a list of useful local organisations in our “Students who are carers” leaflet, which you can download by clicking on the image below.

carers links cover

  • NUS website – advice on caring whilst studying
  • Carers in Sheffield –  local advice, information and support groups for carers aged over 18
  • Sheffield Young Carers Project – one-to-one & group support and respite activities (for carers aged 21 or under)
  • Matter – Carers Trust site for carers aged 16 – 25 providing information, advice and social networking opportunities for young carers
  • Carers Trust – a national organisation (with which many Carers Centres are linked) which works to improve support, services and recognition for anyone living with the challenges of caring
  • Carers UK – useful information on a wide range of concerns in relation to carers
  • Which? Carer’s pages – Advice and information about support as a carer, including guides, tips, real-life stories and links to relevant organisations and charities