Middlesbrough College has received national recognition for the support it gives students who are young carers.
The Carers Trust and The Children’s Society have singled out the College for the way it helps young carers who have to juggle studying and looking after a loved one.
In recognition, the College has picked up a prestigious Young Carers in Schools Award.
Danica Wheater, from Coulby Newham, has just graduated having studied Level 3 Health and Social Care and is one of those who benefited from the College’s efforts.
Throughout her studies the 18-year-old cared for her younger sister, who has autism, while also holding down a part-time job.
Danica explained: “It’s hard to balance being a carer with studying and going to work. But, the tutors at Middlesbrough College were really supportive, giving me extra time to complete assignments and being there to chat when I was finding it tough.
“I’ve cared for my sister, who is almost 10, since I was in school. I help my mum too. I’m used to it, but it’s really nice to know there are other people looking out for you too.
“Now, I’ve graduated from College and I’ve started a new job in a nursery, which is the industry I want to build a career in. I think my experience as a young carer has drawn me to that – I feel like it’s given me skills and knowledge.”
Middlesbrough College’s Young Carers Team is led by vice principal of students, Jane Steel.
She said: “We’re thrilled to have been recognised by the Young Carers in Schools Award programme, which is the benchmark it comes to supporting student carers.
“Our staff team work extremely hard to make the College an environment in which young carers can absolutely thrive.
“That means providing emotional support, such as someone to chat to confidentially or troubleshoot problems with, through to making adjustments to the way courses are delivered so they’re inclusive of carers who face extra responsibilities at home.
“Our students are remarkable and show so much resilience, determination and energy. As staff we’re inspired by their achievements.”
Giles Meyer, chief executive of Carers Trust, said: “The Young Carers in Schools programme is helping to transform schools and colleges and support staff across England.
“Schools and colleges play a vital role in a young carer’s life, as many care for relatives without their teachers even knowing what they do. On average young carers will miss a day of school each month as a result of their caring role, so the steps schools and colleges take to identify and support them can have a huge impact on their learning, wellbeing and life chances.”