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Hi, my name is Kim Emenike. I am a care leaver and graduate from Loughborough University. Having been through highs and lows of university life, I realised that the university journey isn’t always plain sailing for someone leaving care. So, I’ve spent the last 3 years doing everything I can to advocate for young people in care and care leavers. I have a particular passion to see more of us fulfil our potential at university. 

As it's National Care Leavers week, I would like to share some of my top tips and words of wisdom with prospective university students from a care experience. 

If you are thinking about going to university but are holding back because of the things you’ve heard, or the fear that you won't get any support, I hope this post can knock those concerns and misconceptions on the head! 

Going to university was one of the best decisions I ever made. It literally got me into the position I am in today, which is a Civil Servant by day and an advocate for care-experienced people by night.

 

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A few years ago I was in exactly the same place as you. I always knew I wanted to go to university, but I was scared that I wouldn’t have the right support or resources to make it happen. Also, hearing statistics such as only 12% of care leavers go to university was very demotivating and seemed like some sort of invisible barrier to going to university.

So, here are my top tips (and encouragements) to any care leaver who would love to go to university but is feeling a little scared!

1
Care Leaver Packages

Look at what different universities offer to care leavers; the majority universities have care leaver packages. This could include some form of financial support i.e. bursaries and tuition fee waivers. Some offer additional or tailored wellbeing and counselling services to help manage the transition to university. Propel provides comprehensive information on what a lot of different universities have on offer.

2
Scholarships

Look into scholarships that support care leavers specifically. There are organisations that have resources to provide support for people in your situation. For example, the Unite Foundation offers to cover the cost of accommodation for care leavers studying in a number of locations in the UK.

3
Your Local Authority might be able to help

Find out what your Local Authority offers to you as a care leaver.  My local council paid for all my visits to universities, part of my rent whilst at university and offered me a financial bursary for three years whilst I was at university. You can do this by either researching it yourself on Google or speaking to your Social worker or Personal Advisor (PA).

4
Connect with others like you

Take Connect with other care leavers who have been through university who can tell you about their experience. There is a whole community of care leavers: use social media and hashtag #CEP or access Becom’s advice line! of IKEA...

5
Tell your uni

When you arrive at university, tell the team who look after care-experienced people that you are care-experienced so they can offer you the right help and support or signpost you to the right organisations. Doing this sooner rather than later means you can access support early and plug into any university networks or groups.

6
Do not suffer in silence

University is a big place; there are many people and organisations who can help and support you through the application process, life during university and even post-university.

7
Just go for it!

Find a course and university you like and apply for it! Do not allow barriers to stop you from reaching your full potential! You are unstoppable!

There are some great organisations who specialise in helping care-experienced people to go to university. I’d recommend the following:

 

 

If you are interested in hearing my experience about university as a care-experience person, feel free to contact me personally or look at my linktr.ee

Happy National Care Leavers week!

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