A new scheme to help informal carers gain qualifications has been launched in the Wakefield district.

The South West Yorkshire Mental Health NHS Trust is hosting the scheme; in partnership with Wakefield West Primary Care Trust and Eastern Wakefield Primary Care Trust. It is called ‘Access to Learning’ and was awarded £34,000 by the Learning Skills Alliance to get it up and running.

The aim of Access to Learning is to develop opportunities for informal carers to undertake training towards a recognised qualification. The qualifications may be in topics that are relevant to their caring role to enhance their skills as care providers, or in unrelated topics that will increase their potential to obtain employment.

The scheme is open to anyone who is an informal carer and lives in the Wakefield district. That is, anyone who is looking after, or has been looking after, a relative or friend in a caring role, and has not been able to access learning because of this caring role. It is hoped that the scheme will overcome barriers to learning for informal carers such as a lack of free time and possible effect on Social Security Benefits.

Taking part in the scheme will not cost anything and there is also a firm commitment to providing alternative care for relatives or friends whilst the carer completes their chosen course. The courses offered will be flexible to suit individual needs, support will be offered throughout the course and there will also be opportunities to gain work experience to support learning.

The scheme aims to benefit the Trusts by developing a pool of potential recruits with valued experience, whilst giving carers opportunities for learning, which they might otherwise be denied because of their caring responsibilities.

Margaret Black, project leader, explained, ‘Assumptions are frequently made that someone who is an involuntary carer enjoys the role and would like to continue in this work but it is recognised that people don’t always have the choice. Years of caring may have led to loss of confidence and the inability to undertake additional training for work due to caring responsibilities. The project will provide a supportive environment for carers, helping them identify what skills they have and what type of work could be available to them either now or in the future, as well as identify any additional training they might need.’

For more information about the scheme, contact Margaret Black on 01924 327548. Or write to her at Fieldhead, Oucthorpe Lane, Wakefield, WF1 3SP.


time to read: 2 min