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Case Study

Judith Cossey

BSc (Hons) Health and Social Care

MSc Practice Development


Judith Cossey graduated in 2017 with a BSc (Hons) in Health and Social Care and is now studying for a Masters in Practice Development, with the eventual aim of a career in adult nursing. It has been a difficult road for Judith, overcoming childhood neglect, growing up in care and issues with substance abuse, but she is now making a new life for herself and her young family.

When I was four months old, I was placed onto the child protection register due to neglect. In December 1995, my mam left me, my two older brothers and my younger sister alone at home, and failed to return. We were all placed into emergency foster care.

My dad remarried and I moved up to the North East with them, but my behaviour started to spiral downwards. At the age of 13, I was moved out of the family home and into a children’s home, where I stayed until I was 18. I ended up leaving school without a lot of qualifications, but I decided to go straight to college to study Health and Social Care.

I moved out of care into my own flat and thought things were going well, but then I met a boy and ended up abusing drugs and alcohol. I became pregnant at 18 and lost my flat. I then moved back in with my stepmother and cleaned up my act. I wanted a better life for myself and my son, so I decided to go back to college to complete an access course.

I found out I was expecting a baby during my degree with my new partner. I then completed my top-up degree in Health and Social Care before proceeding onto my masters. Once again, I found out I was expecting another baby. Now I have three beautiful children, which can be quite hard to juggle at the same time as studying!

I’ve been supported by staff at the children’s home I lived in for many years, from my leaving care worker and from my extended family. I’m sure they would all be pretty rich if they were given a pound for every time I rang saying I was quitting.

The University of Sunderland's Care Experienced Support Team were a massive help for me during my studies and I don’t know what I would have done without them. They were always there, even if it was just for a quick chat about something not relating to university. They are more like friends than workers, and they really like babies!

The best advice that I would give anyone thinking about studying at Sunderland is to stick at it. Although things may seem impossible at times, there is always a way to resolve it. If you are feeling down, talk to people. Friends you make at university are friends for life and no one is ever alone."

Published 10 June 2019

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