As a former care leaver and fellow graduate from undergraduate studies, I can honestly say that the time being at university was both exciting and stressful as it is an unfamiliar environment for a care leaver to get used to and feel safe in, but this is not all, there is also the fact that sometimes care leavers can feel under rated then their peers who are on campus or even in there course, just like I did during my time here for undergraduate studies.
When I first went to university, I felt that everything was going to be hard and I had the worries of finance, how I was going to fit in and worst of all if I was even going to make it through my course. However, I remember this time during the first few weeks of being at university, my health started detreating badly I did not know I was going to stay in university or not.
However, not all was lost for me, as at my university and a lot of others that I have seen around, I was able to go to student support and talk to an onsite councillor who was able to help me with all and any issues that I was having at the time. This was great to have if I am honest as once, they found out I was a care leaver they signed posted me to the care leaver service on campus where I was able to find out about the types of support I was allowed to access while being a student.
While being at university, students who are care leavers are entitled to get financial support from both the university and their local authority to help with living costs and anything that student might need for their course with a bursary of £2000.00 to help with stuff such as books, printing and other materials that might be required. Knowing that this was around, allowed me to feel more secure at university, knowing that if I had any issues getting supplies for my course or was running out of food and so forth then this, I would have some funds secure to help me, if this time ever come.
However, apart from the knowledge of extra funding to help care leavers through university, the idea of knowing that the care leaver unit at the university was there, it gave me a calmer life on campus as I knew if anything happened, and I needed support they were there to support and help me if needed. Along with the help of the Care Leaver unit on campus, care leavers also gained extra support if needed from services such as Disability support which all universities will have. For many care leavers that I know and have experienced over the years, many of us develop some mental health illness such as anxiety and depression which university helps with by signposting a designated councillor to check in with people once a term and more if needed.
However, the one part of support that I fell is useful for all care leavers who are at university and that was extremely helpful for me, was that universities offer accommodation for all students who are estranged from families or are care leavers for the entire year even through the summer break. For me in my experience this was a significant help because a lot of care leavers and me specific can feel scared about the security of their halls and accommodation while being at university but a lot of the time, they worry about what to do during the semester breaks and summertime. For this to be around, it gives care leavers a massive break from worrying as they can feel that no matter what they have somewhere to stay while undertaking their studies which in my opinion is excellent.
Even though many different universities have more support than others, the one thing that I have gained from being in higher education is that there is so much support available for all care leavers to access if needed, from councillors on campus to extra funding to support with the course costs and even the support from your personal advisor, no matter what, for care leavers who want to go to university/ Higher Education, they will never be alone and will always have a lot of support to see them through.
By Anonymous Care Experienced Blogger.