Estranged Students Solidarity Week
Life is all about choices and chances. The big chances we take when we form friendships, change jobs, move house. The small everyday choices that we make without a moment’s thought. Every choice we face requires us to take a leap of faith in the hope that the risk we’ve taken will improve our life. Nothing in this world is without risk.
For most young people, a supportive family network provides a safety net to fall back on if things go wrong. It gives them the confidence to take advantage of the chances they’re offered. But taking a leap of faith is so much harder if you don’t have that safety net to catch you if you fall.
When Unite Students established the Unite Foundation in 2012, it was to extend a net to young people who have nobody else. The Foundation works with care-leavers and estranged students to provide a safe secure home for success, as well as wraparound welfare support in our residences and with our partner universities. We are the only national charity providing scholarships for this group.
So often, young people who are estranged from their families are forgotten and misunderstood. ESSW gives us a chance to talk about the obstacles that they face but also how with the right support, these young people have a bright and exciting future.
As the Foundation has grown, we’ve learned from the young people we work with, helping us to shape our own programmes but also to share our knowledge with others.
This week we’ll be discussing some of what we’ve learned. We’ll look at key barriers and sources of anxiety such as money, a stable home, mental health, and the lack of public awareness of what estrangement is and the impact it has.
Every one of our scholars is an individual with their own challenges and concerns. But they are also gifted, smart, resilient young people who have fought a series of barriers to build a better life for themselves. The question is, what support is missing now and what should we, as a society be doing about that? This is not a tale of woe – it’s a call to action.