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University scheme bags national award thanks to estranged students

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Published on 25 November 2021

The We Care Team
The We Care Team

It’s the third time the University of Sunderland’s We Care Team has won a national Stand Alone Pledge Award for its pioneering approach to caring for some of its most vulnerable students – but this year it’s extra special.

For the first time ever, students who are estranged from their families have been asked to nominate their university for the award if they feel they’ve been given exceptional support during their studies – and for Sunderland students, it was a no brainer.

Psychology student Eddy Conniff has been supported by the We Care Team since joining the University of Sunderland in 2018. “I am reassured that whatever help I need as an estranged student, I can always count on them,” he said.

“This includes a great deal of encouragement, pastoral support and caring for my wellbeing and personal needs. I also receive financial support in the form of a bursary of £2,000 per year.”

Eddy added: “I feel so fortunate to have the We Care Team and they justly deserve this award. They exceed all expectations as part of an institution that genuinely cares and inspires their students, and their actions reflect this consistently.”

The awards were officially announced at an online event today (Thursday, November 25th) as part of Estranged Students Solidarity Week.

The We Care Team were awarded for “overall excellence”.

In January 2017 Sunderland became the first university in the region to commit to the Stand Alone Pledge: a commitment to create the right environment and conditions for estranged students.

Taking the pledge meant that the University was publicly committing to supporting students who have no relationship with, or support from, their parents or carers, as well as reaching students who were previously under-represented in widening participation initiatives but are three times more likely to drop out of higher education.

Wendy Price, We Care Team Manager, said: “Our support for estranged students spans the entire student lifecycle, from the very first enquiry to graduation and beyond. We recognise that some of the challenges our estranged students experience can happen before or during their time at university, so our support is flexible to adapt to their individual needs.

“We are absolutely delighted to receive this award from Stand Alone in recognition of the support we provide to estranged students. This award means so much to us as our students nominated us to receive it.

“We always aim to ensure that the support we provide is student-centred and of the highest possible quality. For our students to recognise this commitment, and proactively nominate us, is something we’re incredibly proud of.

“Our estranged students are among some of the most talented, determined and resilient people I’ve ever met; I am so proud of what they have achieved so far and what they will continue to achieve in future.”

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