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Looking after someone? Know your rights

On Thursday 26 November it is Carers Rights Day. Here at Queen Mary we want to support our students with caring responsibilities and help raise awareness of different information, advice and support that is available to you so you can feel confident asking for what you need.  

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Who is a carer?

A carer is anyone who has a commitment to providing unpaid care to a family member or friend who could not cope without their support. This may be due to illness, disability, a mental health issue, or substance misuse.

A caring responsibility may be short term - such as supporting someone with their recovery following an accident, or long term - such as helping someone with a long term illness.

If you are aged 16-25 and have a caring responsibility, you are considered to be a ‘young adult carer’.

There are approximately 375,000 young adult carers in the UK, all facing different challenges and responsibilities. If you provide regular care and support to a family member, partner, or friend, you may be eligible to access additional support while studying.

We explain below about support at Queen Mary as well as support externally.

What support is available to carers at Queen Mary?

If you're balancing your studies with the responsibility of caring for another person, this can sometimes be challenging. Some students with care responsibilities might think it's not worth telling the University about their circumstances, perhaps because they think it's a temporary situation, or because they don’t think it ‘counts’. However, all carers deal with their responsibilities alongside their education differently, and you may still find some occasional support helpful, especially if your circumstances change. It’s important to make sure you know where to get support if or when you need it.

Knowing that you have caring responsibilities allows us to put support in place, to make sure you get the most from your university experience. We recommend you do this as early as possible, however small or major your caring role may seem to you.

Queen Mary has put support in place specifically to help students with caring responsibilities. This can include:

  • Emotional and practical support: the Advice and Counselling Service provide a wide range of support services. You can make contact via their web form to find out more or to ask for an appointment. You can have a dedicated named welfare adviser in the Advice and Counselling Service so you won’t have to share your story multiple times with different staff across the university.
  • Financial help: financial support to student carers in financial hardship who have accessed their full government student finance but are unable to undertake part-time work as a result of their caring responsibilities. You might be eligible for help from the Financial Assistance Fund. A Welfare Adviser can also advise you about this.
  • Academic support: this might include flexibility with deadlines, help with managing your workload, or access to academic or career opportunities. Contact your academic adviser or Student Support Officer.

External support

The Carers Trust offers support to those who give unpaid care to a family member or friend – find out more at

If someone in your family has a life-threatening illness, Hope Support Services can help. Visit their website for more information or watch their video. You might also be interested in watching Ben’s story.

To help you know what you are entitled to, you can read the latest Looking after someone guide from Carers UK, which gives carers the full picture of the practical and financial support available to them. 

Students who are carers may benefit from respite support, and there is a Carers Centre in Tower Hamlets. Their services are explained on their website.  They have a specific project for young carers (up to age 25) who are caring for someone in Tower Hamlets, even if the student doesn’t live in the borough. If you are caring for someone outside Tower Hamlets, you can contact your Local Authority to find out about available support.

Move On Up is a unique housing option for people aged 18-25, who have previously or currently care for someone.