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Case Study

Leon Patrick Francis

Hartlepool, UK

BSc (Hons) Sociology


Leon decided to study at the University of Sunderland after attending one of our Open Days and visiting our website. In the future, he would like to start his own mental health charity aimed at male suicide.

When I attended open days at The University of Sunderland, I found the atmosphere was more positive than at other universities, and that staff and student representatives were more than happy to answer my questions. I also read the staff profiles on the University's website, which was encouraging as the lecturers' subject areas were diverse and interesting. 

My favourite part of the course is the theory-based classes where everyone can share their viewpoint in a safe, non-judgemental space. Often this results in creative discussion as issues are contemporary and in the news. I also like the opportunities for student engagement, for example if we provide feedback about the course, we can make it even better for the next generation of students. 

My lecturer encouraged me to take up some voluntary work for any social organisations that were linked to what I wanted to do after I graduate. I started volunteering for Hartlepool Carers stating I wanted to learn every role, as I had the ambition to start my own charity. I started out on reception which was advantageous as I got to meet all members of the team, board members and other agencies involved with the delivery of their service. After the receptionist came back to work, I was asked by the manager what I wanted to do next. I informed her that I would like to start a mindfulness and relaxation group, and developed sessions including meditation, a reading and audio/video segments. 

Next, I started a men’s group in collaboration with another volunteer, as health does not discriminate on the basis of gender but fewer men were accessing the service than women. I have also been asked by Hartlepool Carers to collaborate with another volunteer to get an 18-25 group started, made up of people who were previously young carers.

I now have future plans to start my own mental health charity aimed at male suicide, which can provide targeted care to the gendered differences in mental health. I will utilise theory and practical elements of my degree subject and the transferable skills I have been learning in my voluntary role, in a bid to proactively reduce suicide rates for men.

The University of Sunderland is a friendly, forward-thinking environment that ensures each individual is supported to reach their full potential."

Published 11 December 2019

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