A researcher from the University of Sussex has today been recognised for his exceptional contribution to the nation’s wellbeing.
Professor Saul Becker , the University’s Provost and world-leading expert in young carers has been named one of the Nation’s Lifesavers - the top 100 individuals or groups based in universities whose work is saving lives and making a life-changing difference to our health and wellbeing.
They have been named for the first time today as part of Universities UK’s MadeAtUni campaign, which brings to life the impact of universities on everyday lives.
Professor Becker’s research was the first to establish the extent and nature of caring by children for parents and other family members who are ill, disabled, have mental health or addiction problems, and that many of these children themselves face significant mental health and other impacts on their education, development and wellbeing. Over nearly 30 years, Professor Becker has researched these impacts, attracting funding for 50 research projects and writing hundreds of articles, papers, reports and books on the topic.
He has advised governments, policy makers and practitioners in the UK and internationally on young carers issues and his work has informed the development of policy, law and professional practice in a number of countries.
A carer himself as a child and an adult, and a registered social worker, Professor Becker draws on his personal and professional experiences to inform his research, public engagement and policy recommendations. His drive and focus on placing young carers themselves at the centre of debates and policy decisions has given voice and hope to hundreds of thousands of young carers in the UK and internationally.
His current project is Europe’s first-ever study into young carers across six countries, including some, such as Slovenia, who have no knowledge of their young carers. Through surveys and interviews of well over a thousand young carers, and analysing policy frameworks and good practices, the pan-European team is developing an innovative framework of mental-health interventions to be adapted and tested in six countries.
Professor Becker said: “I’m honoured to feature as one of the Nation’s Lifesavers for our work to improve the lives of young carers around the world.
“I hope that this recognition helps to shine a light on the many challenges these remarkable young people face - challenges that are all too often, quite literally, hidden behind closed doors.
“The MadeAtUni campaign is a great chance to celebrate the many ways universities are having a significant impact on our everyday lives.”
Professor Dame Janet Beer, President Universities UK, said:
“When people think of lifesavers they tend to focus on the dedication and skill of our doctors, nurses, carers, and paramedics - many of whom are trained at universities. Every day, up and down the country, universities are also working on innovations to transform and save lives. Research taking place in universities is finding solutions to so many of the health and wellbeing issues we care about and the causes that matter.
“By proudly working in partnership with charities, the NHS and healthcare organisations, universities are responsible for some of our biggest health breakthroughs and in revolutionising the delivery of care.
“This campaign is a chance to bring to life the wonderful and often unexpected work going on every day in our universities and to celebrate some of the people working to make a life-changing difference to the nation.”
Research shows the public are proud of UK universities but have little understanding of the benefits they bring, with most not being aware that UK academics are behind many of the discoveries that save lives and keep them healthy.
The MadeAtUni campaign gives the public an insight into some of this work and celebrates those who made it happen.