Wednesday 15th March, is Young Carers’ Action Day in the UK. To mark the occasion, Somerville College is announcing a new access initiative pioneered by one of our students.

Holly Cobb is a second year French and Linguistics student at Somerville College. She is also a young carer who believes she never would have made it to Oxford without the support she received from her school and a local charity network for young carers.

Now Holly wants to offer other young carers access to the same sort of opportunities that changed her own life. The Young Carers Insight Into Higher Education Day is a new outreach initiative that will offer young carers in Year 12 the opportunity to visit Somerville College and learn more about studying not just at Oxford, but any university in the UK from young carers currently studying at Oxford.

Holly is clear that the need for this initiative could not be greater. At present, there are at least 800,000 young carers across the UK – a huge demographic which is often overlooked by university outreach schemes despite the fact that being a young carer commonly aligns with other markers of disadvantage. Many young carers never even consider university because it seems so remote from their own lives, with 27% of young carers aged 11-15 taking time off school due to their caring responsibilities.

“If I’d been invited to an access event specifically for young carers, I would have been a lot less nervous about applying to university”

The Young Carers Insight Into Higher Education Day hopes to change this narrative by inviting young carers into an informal and welcoming environment in which they can learn, ask questions and meet other young carers like themselves. Sessions will cover topics such as making a university application, life experiences at university and accessing financial and emotional support as a young carer.

A young carer is defined as anyone under the age of 18 who helps look after a relative with a disability, illness, mental health condition, or drug or alcohol problem.

Speaking to Somerville College, Holly commented, ‘I hope this event will provide an opportunity for young carers to meet others with similar goals and gain an insight into all aspects of university life – not just studying, but also the social side, as well as the financial and emotional support available. I think if I’d been invited to an access event specifically for young carers in Year 12, I would have been a lot less nervous about applying to university.’

The inaugural Young Carers Insight into Higher Education Day will take place on 31st May at Somerville College. To find out more and register, please email access@some.ox.ac.uk. To read Holly’s story, visit here.

Holly (l) with Orlá Lavery, Somerville College’s Access and Inreach Officer

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