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Case Study

Judith Cossey

MSc Practice Development

Judith Cossey graduated in 2017 with a BA (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, and in December 1995 my mam left myself, 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 into a children’s home, where I stayed until I was 18.

I ended up leaving school with not many 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 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 do an access course.

The University’s Care Experienced Students' Support Team were a massive support for me during my studies. I found out I was expecting a baby during my degree with my new partner. She was born on Boxing Day.

I completed my top up degree in Health and Social Care in 2017 and then proceeded onto my Masters. Once again, I found out I was expecting another baby.

Now I have three beautiful children. Mason is 6 years old, Eliza-Rose is 15 months old and Alexander-Thomas is 9 weeks old. It is quite hard to juggle children and study. It’s hard to leave them at home so you can go to class.

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’s Care Experienced Students' Support Team have been a huge support during my studies and I don’t know what I would do without them. Even if it is just for a quick chat or a whinge about something not relating to university. They are more like friends than workers, and they really like babies! You can ring for a general chat rather than just about studying.

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.

Never feel as if you are alone during your time at university. No one is ever alone."

Published 10 June 2019

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