My dad died when I was 12 and my mum wasn’t able to look after us properly. My siblings moved in with my auntie, but I had a few issues and I ended up going into care at the age of 14.
I realised pretty early on that I didn’t want to go down the cycle that my mum ended up in. My dad had a really good job, but my mum never really worked and when my dad died she ended up at home on benefits. I didn’t want to end up like that, I wanted to have a proper career, and I wanted to show my brothers and sisters that they could too.
Before I came to University, I was classed as disadvantaged, and that label and stigma has followed me all my life, but at university that stigma kind of disappears. It was like a fresh start for me.
I ticked on my UCAS form that I was care experienced, and that only goes to the We Care Student Support Team, noone else. Your lecturers and fellow students don’t know, unless you choose to tell them.
But I got a lot of really practical support because I’d ticked that box, including a bursary of £1,500* a year, and the support isn’t forced – it’s as and when you need it. I find it better that there’s help if you need it, it’s not pushed on you, as it was for me at school.
There are thousands and thousands of people like me who leave care every year, and while university isn’t right for all of them, I think they need to be encouraged more. A lot of the support you get just vanishes when you leave care.
I plan to start an MSc in Inequality and Society after my degree. I want to get a step ahead of everyone else."
*The We Care scholarship is now £2,000 per year.
Published 18 August 2020