Something completely different

Taking up something new, be it studying or any other activity, doesn’t have to be all about employment or related to your role as a carer. Doing something that’s just for you is important. Making time for yourself and doing something that you really enjoy can help you to relax, de-stress and make you feel good about yourself.

In this section you’ll hear carers talking about the benefits of choosing to do ‘something for me’.

First listen to Gillian and then read about Hedar talking about their study choices.


Gillian (54) is the training coordinator at her local carers centre. She works part time and is still very involved in caring for her family. She has three sons, two of whom have a genetic learning disability. Her first experience of returning to studying and working was with her local carers centre, where she took part in an Open University course looking at ‘make your experience count’. Completing this course gave her the confidence to apply to work at the centre. Since then she’s chosen to study something just for her – maths.

Here Gillian talks about how she chose to study something completely unrelated to her job or her caring role. Gillian talks about why she chose to study maths.

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Hedar, 45, has lived in Glasgow for five years, and cares for her father and her sister. Hedar and her family are refugees from Iraqi Kurdistan. Hedar’s father and sister have disabilities and her father also has dementia. Hedar is their full-time carer. Hedar has chosen not to make use of external caring support currently and chose distance learning as a way to create time and space for herself while caring at home.

Figure 4.4 Hedar (Library image)

Read why Hedar finds distance learning so rewarding.

I’m a person who can’t go out a lot. I don’t have the chance to attend colleges or universities and I don’t have a social life. I have lots of health problems. Sometimes I get depressed. So The Open University is the best thing for me.

I like to be busy inside the house, trying to overcome the depression, to overcome the sadness and all the things that happened to me, so I work … I do housework in the morning as much as I can and look after Dad and my sister. And then after 8 o’clock I start working on my Open University assignments.

My way of thinking is completely different than it was before. I feel I can think deeper, understand things easier. These things make me happy because I feel I’m improving myself. I’m improving my brain, doing something for my brain.

I can do everything at home. I can use the computer, I can communicate with my tutors, I can explore things easily and things are very useful with the Open University. Very rewarding … for a person like me very rewarding.

Hedar chose distance learning as a way to create time and space for herself while at home, and over the course of her study she’s gained an Open University degree.

Something for me: making my caring experience count

Choosing something completely different