By Suzanne Pender
THE opportunity to access third-level education for family carers was further strengthen this week at SETU Carlow, thanks to their continuing partnership with Family Carers Ireland.
The Faculty of Lifelong Learning at SETU Carlow, in partnership with Family Carers Ireland, hosted the ‘Supporting Family Carers Across Ireland’ project launch at the Carlow campus.
Family Carers Ireland is the national charity supporting the 500,000-plus family carers across the country, who care for loved ones, children or adults.
The partnership began in 2018 with the co-creation of the level 6 certificate in family caring, which provides access to third-level education for family carers who may not otherwise have the opportunity to take part.
Additionally, family carers in receipt of carer’s allowance can only work a maximum of 18.5 hours a week, which limits their potential income. Therefore, funded part-time third-level opportunities such as the certificate in family caring are the only viable higher education options for them.
In recognition of the faculty’s work with Family Carers Ireland, it was awarded €1m to expand the project over three years from 2022 to 2024.
“The award of funding to work with Family Carers Ireland is testament to the dedication and incredible work undertaken by our Faculty of Lifelong Learning at SETU Carlow and its commitment to providing undergraduate and postgraduate programmes for social and community benefit,” said Dr Joe Collins, head of faculty of Lifelong Learning at SETU, Carlow.
“This is truly transformative education at its best and SETU is creating and embracing a culture of lifelong learning that transforms our society and enables people to participate fully in the workforce, in their homes, in their communities and in the wider society,” he added.
Catherine Cox, head of communications and policy with Family Carers Ireland said the organisation is delighted to launch the ‘Supporting Family Carers Across Ireland’ project and to continue the incredible partnership with SETU Carlow, which began in 2018.
“We know how valuable returning to education can be for family carers, not only from an academic viewpoint but also in providing opportunities to meet fellow carers and share their experience and wealth of knowledge while providing peer support to one another,” she said.
“Our sincere thanks to HEA for providing this funding and we look forward to rolling out the entire project” said Ms Cox.
All are in agreement that the development of the certificate in family caring has given recognition to family carers, encouraged their personal development and promoted recognition of family carers as valued members of the community.
“This initiative is breaking down the barriers for them to engage in third-level educational opportunities while recognising the existing skill sets family carers possess and continually develop in their daily caring roles,” said Nicola McEntee, project co-ordinator at Faculty of Lifelong Learning, SETU Carlow.
If you or someone you know is a family carer and would like to take part in the courses on offer through the Supporting Family Carers Across Ireland project, contact Nicola on 059 9175280 or email [email protected].