Care Leavers

If you were looked after by a local authority during your childhood, you may be eligible for additional support from the University. We understand that not all people leaving the care system will identify as a ‘care leaver’. You may not wish to tell people this private information about yourself – and this is absolutely fine and your choice. If you do decide to see what support is available for students coming to Sheffield Hallam from care, we will respect your privacy. We have a strict confidentiality policy and we will only talk with other people about your situation if you have given us permission to do so.

We realise that your experience as a care leaver is unique. No two students are the same or in the same situation. Some of our students who have come from a care background tell us they have supportive foster families they can return to in the holidays and receive adequate financial support from their local authority. Others find themselves without support in the holidays and struggling financially without a family to ask for help. Sometimes, it helps just to check in with someone to make sure you’re getting the support you need, whether that’s financially, practically, or with your course.

So, if there’s any part of University life or your individual circumstances that you’d like to talk through, please get in touch. There is a range of support for care leavers at Sheffield Hallam including 365 day accommodation, a £1500 per year bursary, access to social events in the University vacations and simply someone to talk to if you feel like it.

Feel like getting in touch?

If you would like to access support you can email our named contacts, Emily and Robin, here at inclusivesupport@shu.ac.uk. Alternatively, you can contact our Student Support Services Reception. You can contact us whatever your question – no matter how big or small!

Student case studies

Esther Adewole – graduated in BSc Events Management with Arts and Entertainment, 2016

 

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Esther graduated in 2016 with a BSc Events Management with Arts and Entertainment. She spent time in the UK and Nigeria as a young child and lived with her aunt in London from the age of ten before going into foster care at 14.

‘My first year at university was spent settling in and trying to get used to a new subject that I’d never studied before, as well as the Sheffield lifestyle and university life. Just little things like registering with the medical centre were new to me and I felt quite alone at times.

‘Going into the second year, things were more settled in Sheffield but I found it difficult juggling family relationships and personal issues along with my education. When I lived with my foster mum, I knew I could visit my social workers at the drop-in centre whenever I wanted, but at uni I felt very alone.

‘I sometimes do find it hard to get support because I don’t want people to label me as a foster kid or give me special treatment just because I’m a care leaver.

‘My goal now is to achieve a 2:1 in my final year and go on to do a masters as well as working one-to-one with other care leavers. I recently got a job as a student ambassador at Sheffield Hallam and am hoping that will give me the chance to meet young people in care at events.

‘My advice to care leavers is: do what you want to do, not what your family want you to do, make time for yourself, look ahead and follow your dreams. If your dream doesn’t scare you, you’re not dreaming big enough!’ ‘My advice to care leavers is: follow your dreams.’

 

Chris Hoyle – Graduate Diploma in Youth Work (2011-12)

I came to Hallam to do my second degree – I did my first degree (in Computer Science) at the University of York. When I came to do my Graduate Diploma I had concerns over my ability to write academically, as my previous course was very exam-based, but I attended study skills sessions and got a lot of support through my course.

As a care leaver, I had concerns over sharing my own experiences – I wondered how that would be taken but in fact it helped people to take more notice when issues around care leavers came up on the course. When I first went to university in York, I wondered what everyone else going to uni would be like and whether I’d fit in. I also worried where I’d stay in the holidays (luckily my girlfriend’s family were great and I stayed with them!)

I like it at Hallam because there’s a mixed cohort of students and they support diversity. I was accepted and encouraged to share my experiences. In fact, after I graduated, I was asked to come back and deliver a lecture about care leavers to undergraduate students in Health and Wellbeing.

When problems came up which were affecting my studies, my Course Leader was great and put me in touch with my faculty student support and I was supported in submitting Extenuating Circumstances. Without support I would have dropped out but my Course Leader was really encouraging. Then, I handed my work in over the summer, got my results and applied for an internship. I got support from a Careers Adviser who helped me with my application form and gave me interview practice. I was offered the internship and started working here at Hallam in February 2013!

My advice to other students who are care leavers is don’t think the services here are the same as services you’ve received elsewhere. The support services here want to be here when you need them, but don’t want to intrude when you don’t. And finally – engage with as many things as you can while you’re here – there’s so many opportunities at uni that you may not have had before.

Read more about Chris’s experience here

FAQs

I can’t get a guarantor for my rented accommodation.

Most student accommodation landlords and agents require students to have a guarantor, in order to protect accommodation from damage / non payment of rent etc. In some circumstances, the Local Authority has acted as guarantor for students who come to university from care. You might be able to look into this with your Personal Adviser or Social Worker. You can also seek advice from https://www.housinghand.co.uk/

The other option would be to pay your accommodation cost for the year upfront to avoid the need for a guarantor, if you’re able to secure funds from the Local Authority.

I’m feeling stressed out / overwhelmed but I don’t want to ask for help

Many students feel overwhelmed when they come to university. I know I did! If you’re coming from a non-conventional background, there may be more things to worry about and it may not be easy to ask for help. If you’re used to dealing with social workers, you may feel as though asking for support at uni will be similar to talking to your social worker. This isn’t the case. We’re here to support all students and to help you make the most of your time here.

We understand that people come to uni from all walks of life and that those who come from the care system may not always have access to the same support that others take for granted, such as support from family members. You can talk to us in confidence, we will listen to you and respect your views and concerns. The only time we might need to break confidentiality would be if we felt there was a serious risk of harm to you or someone else. We think of each student as an individual on your own journey through education. We’re here to support you along the way and help you to achieve the success you deserve. You are welcome to contact us at inclusivesupport@shu.ac.uk or call us on 0114 225 2679.

I’m really down and I don’t know who to talk to

There are many places you could turn if you’re feeling down and it is up to you who you decide to trust. Our Student Wellbeing team is a good place to start. You can visit the Student Wellbeing Centre to get a feel for the kind of support they can offer or you can visit their pages on My Hallam here.

I need practical / financial support

If you’ve found yourself in a situation where you don’t have access to the basic things you need to live a good student lifestyle, or if you’ve not applied for Student Finance or accommodation, get in touch as soon as possible! We will help you to get it sorted. Worrying about money is the last thing you need when you’re starting life as a university student! Call by a Hallam Help Reception point, telephone Hallam Help on 0114 225 2222 or email hallamhelp@shu.ac.uk

I’m worried my studies will suffer because of personal issues affecting me outside of uni

If you feel comfortable to do so, you should talk to someone at the earliest opportunity, if you think that your studies might be affected by things going on outside of uni. You could contact your named contacts first of all, who will be able to talk you through the support that’s available at Hallam and put you in touch with some relevant contacts in your faculty and elsewhere.

I’d like you to speak to my social worker to tell them how I’m getting on – can you do that?

We offer guidance to local authorities  about support for care leavers at Sheffield Hallam. This includes information about our data sharing principles. We will only share information about you with your social worker or personal adviser if you specifically ask us to. You can find out more about how to request that we speak with someone from your local authority here.

You can email us at transitions@shu.ac.uk if you feel it would be helpful for us to speak with someone in your local authority about any aspect of your university life.

I would like to talk to someone about my career options. Where do I start?

The Careers and Employability Service have designated advisers working specifically with students who are care leavers. For an insight into the support available, please see the Careers and Employability website which has information for care leavers and all students.

I want to get involved in extra-curricular activities, like sports or social clubs. Where do I start?

What are you interested in? Have you always wanted to learn a skill or take up a sport but never had the opportunity? University is an excellent place to start a new hobby. It’s never too late – and while you are a student you will have a bit more time to spend honing your skills! Why not take a look at the Hallam Union website for details of all the clubs and societies already up and running?

Care Leaver Bursary

All the information you need about your Care Leaver Bursary is available here.

New for 2017: if you have already confirmed with us that you are a care leaver then you will not need to fill out another application form for the Care Leaver Bursary. We will contact you in December with details of when the payment will be made.

If you haven’t already confirmed that you are a care leaver, please contact us at inclusivesupport@shu.ac.uk. You will need to complete an eligibility form with your Personal Adviser or Leaving Care Worker.

Here’s a useful booklet of information that you can download all about support for care leavers at Sheffield Hallam