Cambridge University life for Care Leavers and Estranged students

Cambridge University life for Care Leavers and Estranged students

October 28, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


If you were coming here now again
as a fresher with your experience what piece of advice would
you like to have been told? I think I would have liked to know a bit
more about all of the different kind of schemes and financial opportunities and things
that the University can support with like helping for travel costs
for study, things like that and just all of the little secret nooks and crannies
of kind of financial and social support that the University can offer
such as the Enhanced Bursary which is available for care
leavers and estranged students which has really helped me over the
year to kind of pay for rent and things and equally the 365 Accommodation. Yeah definitely, I literally would
not have been able to study here if I hadn’t got on that bursary I mean obviously, I think it’s
quite easy to forget that like for care leavers and estranged students you do have to pay for living
costs outside of term time that’s not something that goes away so the Enhanced Bursaries kind of negate that so I just would not have been able to. It’s great that we have
these spaces to go to so that for certain people
who can’t return home or don’t have a place to go back to, they
can stay somewhere and they’re safe they still have the support and things
so like this is a great thing I profit from this,
in the vacation periods for example. Did you find it tricky to access
the economic support available? For me, it was really a
simple and easy process and it was all done through
UCAS and things like this which can be really helpful
and supportive too so making that known to my college and
my support staff was really helpful and they helped me a lot to find
out what I could access. Was it a similar experience for you? Not really, I think because… my experience of care
began a little bit after I turned 16 I know that that means that I’m not
defined as a statutory care leaver so I am care experienced and I am
estranged but not a statutory care leaver which meant that when it came
to applying for Student Finance I had to go through a process of
verification to get independent status which then could mean that
I could get the Enhanced Bursary it meant that I had to get a
professional to vouch for me and say like
“yes, she is definitely estranged” and the only professional in my
vicinity was like a teacher at my school who didn’t know an awful lot
about my circumstances so that did mean that I had
to do some disclosing and yeah, I guess go through the
process of verification which was tricky but obviously
it was completely necessary. And eventually it worked out and it
supported you, so like we were saying earlier it’s just so important to try and be
as open as you can where you can and feel comfortable too. I think I would have liked to
have been told like more about access and outreach from earlier on So, obviously I really enjoyed
my involvement in the Realise Project and showing young people from
like care and estranged backgrounds what Cambridge is like but I didn’t get
involved in that until like a bit later on because I was quite nervous about
being open about my background I just wish that
I’d got involved sooner to like change young people’s
minds and to get them to think that they are worthy of applying
to places like Cambridge and that they could
succeed if they did apply to change those young people’s
minds you really do have to target the representation that
you provide on those schemes so like having mentors like you,
me, the other students that worked on these schemes
from care and estranged backgrounds being able to say
“I know, I literally know what it’s like” and “I’m here, and I’ve been able
to do it, like you can do it too”. It makes it easier to know that there
are other people in these situations so it’s not a singular experience
and we are a community and maybe there’s not that many of us
but I think having open voices about this just makes the thing a lot easier just
knowing that there is a space for you you merit it and it can
work out essentially. I think the point about you merit
it is something really important as well we deserve to be here just
as much as like the next person and it’s like reminding yourself of that and when you do occupy these spaces
with other people from similar backgrounds and you feel a part of the community you find yourself like
reminding other people of that and in doing so it reminds you that
you’re meant to be here as well I think. I think as well, the thing has become a
lot bigger kind of like this year for example I mean in my first year, I managed to find
this community and this group of people that existed in my first year
which is a great kind of experience and I hope that it can be
like that for other people as well as financial help, there’s a
lot of kind of initiatives and stuff to make the experience more
comfortable and nurturing. Like the Stand Alone Pledge for example,
I think that’s like a really positive step it encourages universities to have a look
at what they’re doing every year or so and think how can we continue improving
the support and how can we move forward and how can we speak to students
that are from these backgrounds and listen to their needs because that’s something
that I’ve really been trying to push for.