This month saw the latest round of Returning Carers’ Fund awards being made, with a total of £99,565 being granted to staff returning to work after periods of carers’ leave, to support the re-establishment of their academic careers. These are the first awards made following updates to the Fund’s awarding criteria and scope recommended by a review undertaken last year.
The Review found that in the four academic years between 2017/18 and 2020/21, the Fund supported more than 150 academics and researchers to re-establish their careers through a wide range of activities, giving out grants worth more than £530,000 in total. It also found that the Fund has had a significant and positive impact on grant recipients’ research careers as demonstrated in many successful research outputs (e.g., academic journal articles, book chapters, scientific investigation data) as well as grant and fellowship applications. You can read the full review here.
The two key changes made were:
- Maximum grant amounts were increased by 20%, with normal amounts increased to £6,000 (from £5,000) and an overall maximum in exceptional circumstances of £12,000 (from £10,000).
- The minimum eligible length of leave was decreased from 6 months to 3 months to better support use of the Fund by those taking shared parental leave, adoption leave or carers’ leave.
The panel were very pleased this term to see an increased diversity of applicants, welcoming the first application from a staff member returning from a period of Shared Parental Leave, as well as one from an individual with full-time caring responsibilities. The activities that are to be supported by the awards ranged from personal development coaching to research collaboration trips.
If you think that you may benefit from the fund, there is lots of information on the Returning Carers' Fund page about how to apply. It’s highly encouraged that you contact your divisional representative listed on the page to discuss your application and any questions you have about eligibility.