Unite Foundation

Estranged Student Solidarity Week – A Round Up by Paige Mackenzie

The last week in November was Estranged Students Solidarity Week, a campaign led by StandAlone to raise awareness about family estrangement and the many barriers to success that estranged students face in Higher Education.

This year I graduated from Liverpool John Moores University where I studied Media Production and the Unite Foundation asked if I could create a series of films to be released throughout the campaign which was really exciting. I spent the week visiting some of the Foundation’s university partners across the country; I went to Leicester, to London, to Bristol, to Liverpool, then Edinburgh and then back home, all in the space of 5 days!

It was really interesting to find out what different universities do to encourage estranged young people to go to university and what support and advice is there for those who do.

  • Ryan at Leicester De Montfort talked about the importance of engaging with your teaching programme to help you find your feet and meet other people
  • At the University of Bristol I spoke with Maria about the importance of getting career ready and thinking about that really early on
  • I hadn’t realised that in Scotland, being estranged or care experienced is defined a little bit differently – Edinburgh Napier University try really hard to reach out to students and help them to understand their status and support available to them
  • Queen Mary University London has an area on their website dedicated to care leavers and estranged students
  • Liverpool John Moores University are just brilliant at giving support throughout university and beyond – as Phil said, ‘the door is always open!’

It was so good to go back to Liverpool, see my friends there and go back to the bar I used to work in!

It’s great that StandAlone has dedicated a week each year to raise awareness about estrangement and encourage a wider discussion on changing family dynamics – as one of Unite Foundation’s scholars pointed out, people don’t understand estrangement in the same way they understand the term ‘care leaver’. Obviously, the Unite Foundation and the universities I visited (along with all of the Unite Foundation’s partner universities) work hard all year round to reach out to and support estranged students and the campaign was a brilliant opportunity to highlight this and talk about some of the specific guidance, advice and support on offer in addition to the Foundation scholarships.

The Unite Foundation have set up a dedicated campaign page, where you can find all of my films http://www.unitefoundation.co.uk/estranged-students-solidarity-week/ and if you’re interested to see some more of the wider campaign activity, look up #WithEstrangedStudents on Twitter and Instagram.