A new Carers Charter has been created at Forth Valley College promoting a culture that recognises carers and their needs and helps them to remain in education.
HNC Childhood Practice student Donna Chalmers (38) from Bonnybridge is delighted that Forth Valley College have officially launched a Carers Charter.
Donna, said: “I didn’t consider myself a carer because I ‘care’ for my son who has Aspergers and ADHD . It was only when I began discussing my responsibilities surrounding my son, that I realised I could categorise myself as a carer. His behaviour needs managing from dealing with meltdowns and giving him ‘now and then’ instructions and our days need to be structured otherwise he has a meltdown.
“We need to be careful where we take him because of his sensory needs. Prevention is much better than being with the meltdowns as they can be very verbal and physical. I also have a younger daughter who I need to support emotionally and mentally to help her deal with our home life.
“Before moving to Scotland - we moved from Portsmouth - I had to leave my initial career as a cardiac physiologist because my son’s needs became demanding and there was no childcare which could meet his needs
“Similarly I had a career change into Additional Support Needs Education. But had to leave my roles as I couldn’t meet the needs of the children I was looking after, because I was continually being called into my son’s school to support him or deal with exclusions or attend meetings.
“Since moving to Scotland I have extended family support which has helped immensely, however, I have found it challenging to focus on my course. There is requirement that we complete 60 days placement which is extremely challenging with a child with ASN. I have found myself up into the early hours just to be able to study in peace. I have thought about leaving.
“But my tutors have been amazing. I have been open and honest about my home life with them and they have been sympathetic to my needs. Sometimes just listening or a hug is all it take.
“I think the Carers Charter is a positive step. Being a ‘carer’ adds an extra, sometimes challenging dimension to our lives and for institutions like Forth Valley College to not only recognise these issues, but go and place support networks and protocols in place is invaluable. I think it’s important that the charter is protected my legislation
“It is important to contact The FV Student Association and FVC Student Support Services if you have any issues as these people work for the students, as advocates and they will have access to support services and knowledge.
“The course I am now doing prepares you for employment in the early years sector, and it is something that I love doing. To watch a child develop with your support is reward in itself. However, I have an internal drive to support and engage hard to reach members of a community and to be able to promote inclusion and empowerment, so in a perfect world I will be able to incorporate both. I am looking forward to the future
“I would recommend the support services on offer here at Forth Valley College. The team are professional, knowledgeable and friendly."
FVC Principal Dr Ken Thomson officially signed the Charter, which was the brainchild of the Forth Valley Student Association and supported by Carers Trust Scotland, Stirling Carers Centre and FVC’s Student Services Team, at the Stirling Campus on Wednesday 21 February.
A carer is 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. The new charter highlights how FVC values the vital work done by carers and is committed to working with them to help them continue with their education.