November 25th every year is National Carers Rights Day – the one day where the focus is on those of us who give up our time, unpaid, to look after our loved ones.
This campaign aims to reach as many of the carers across the UK as it can, and with 6.5 million of us, that is a tall order.
It focuses on the support, benefits and practical help that is available to us. The right to have equipment and technology to support us, and for the student carers here, the right to have your responsibilities recognised and supported.
This year’s Carers Rights Day campaign focuses on raising awareness of the rights that unpaid carers have. The pandemic has had a massive impact on the lives of carers, and it’s more important than ever that carers are aware of what they have the right to.
Being a student carer can be a massive amount of work and knowing your capacity and limitations when you are responsible for the wellbeing of others can take its toll on us all. This Carers Rights Day we are asking that you consider sharing that load and getting the help and support that can help make a difference to your study journey.
Often people don’t want to identify themselves as carers, despite the care they provide to family and friends, and end up missing out for years on the right support. Getting the correct practical and financial help to take a break or manage the costs of caring is hugely important.
Knowing that there is extra support available is invaluable. This could either be to help us when we need extensions, the provision an additional tutorial session, the availability of the student carers social media spaces and even the provision of a carers bursary from the OU. All of these are things we can get to help us, we just need to be willing to declare that status on our profile and share with our tutors what extra help might be valuable.
This Carers Rights Day, the university is hoping to reach as many carers who study with the OU as possible with information and advice about the range of support they are entitled to – whether that’s certain benefits or practical help, like getting adaptations in the home.
If you are a carer, or you know someone who is, we’d love you to come along to the Student Hub Live event on 25th November between 11 and 12.30 and find out more.
The event will be an opportunity to connect with other OU students who are carers and think about how we might support ourselves during the challenges that the winter and festive season brings.
At this interactive session including some movement activities, you’ll also have an update on how the OU supports carers.
The OU Student Carers Policy defines a student carer as:
Students with unpaid caring responsibilities face unique challenges in balancing these commitments with Open University study. The Open University is committed to providing a supportive and inclusive learning environment for all students.
This policy is intended to outline the support available to students with caring responsibilities and to provide guidance to staff supporting these students.
For the purpose of this policy we use the Carers Trust definition of a carer: anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support.
For more information on the carers’ bursary and scholarships available, please also see below.
Our Carers’ Bursary offers a £250 award to registered students providing unpaid care to a friend or family member who, due to an illness, disability, mental health condition, or addiction, cannot cope without their care.
The Open University’s Carers Scholarship Fund is the very first of its kind in the UK. We have already provided the equivalent of 50 full Open University scholarships to carers so that they get the chance to study, develop their sense of identity outside of caring and retrain towards seeking new employment. We aim to make a further 10 scholarships available in the 2021/2022 academic year.
A scholarship covers OU undergraduate credit-bearing modules and qualifications, paying for the full tuition cost of your qualification, up to 120 credits each seasonal academic year and 360 credits in total.
As a carer, you have rights. Visit the Carers UK “Know your rights” page to find out more.