South Devon College has become the first South West college to receive the Quality Standard in Carer (QSCS) accreditation from the Carers’ Federation.

The accolade recognises the work from the college in supporting young carers and young adult carers, with the official assessment highlighting the commitment to embed support for these carers at all levels of the college structure.

Students with caring responsibilities have been identified as a vulnerable group and specific processes have been implemented at the college to support them through their further education journey.

Stephanie Sparkes, carers lead at South Devon College, has played a key role in developing innovative approaches to supporting student carers, ensuring a clear framework of cross-college processes are in place to provide a consistent level of assistance for all.

Stephanie said: “I’m so passionate about this and having this accreditation means so much. It’s great to have this foundation in place, on top of everything the college had in place already to support carers.

“Achieving everything in the QSCS criteria means that we essentially have a support service that works almost 24/7 for students that are carers.

“From my own personal experience as a young carer while studying here at the college, the support I received is something I’m eternally grateful for and it is also thanks to the amazing service that Torbay Young Adult Carers service provides in partnership with the college.”

The college has many support opportunities including a student contact log which allows better communication between tutors and support staff and services, and data collection processes in relation to achievement, retention, and progress.

In place is a very strong and effective working relationship with the local Torbay Carers service, whose input and support has helped develop a robust support framework.

The college support for young carers has been enhanced through direct involvement with the students, establishing carer ambassadors and mentors, placing an emphasis on building confidence and skills.

This is far from the end of a process for South Devon College, as they recognise the need for ongoing development, monitoring and reviewing of the support provided.