This week is National Care Leavers’ Week, showcasing the success and many opportunities available to care leavers from across the UK.
While most students can sympathise with the difficulties of moving out for the first time to live at university, it can be a particularly disruptive time for care leavers. Upon turning 18, many young care leavers are forced to leave their placement and start to live independently before they feel ready. This can make completing A Levels or diplomas particularly hard, even before pursuing further education. Options may feel limited, but Harper Adams are determined to make this not be the case.
Harper Adams has pledged to support care leavers in highlighting the higher education routes available to them, as well as promoting workshops, funding, employment and a community to grow with and learn from whilst at university.With the Access to Harper programme, prospective students are supported in their application and, if successful, all the way through their academic career.
Kimberley Chadwick, Outreach Manager, said of the pledge: “The care leavers covenant is a promise, a pledge that we as an institution will do what we can to support care experienced individuals on their pathway to higher education. When students leave care they are at that point of crucial transition to adulthood and that’s where we can play our part, to ensure we have the right support and mechanisms in place to allow them to gain entry and succeed at university.”
Along with this, the Widening Participation team are calling on the government to digitally connect care leavers in a time where being connected is essential.
Although the Government’s scheme to provide digital devices and internet access to vulnerable children in England at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic provided a lifeline to many care leavers, in a survey of local authorities, covering more than 6000 care leavers between them, 40% said that none of the care leavers they worked with had received a laptop or tablet.
The petition would see the government extend the existing scheme and commit to making sure care leavers can access it easily; to ensure every care leaver in England has a laptop and internet access for at least 12 months when they first live independently; and that all local offers for care leavers include the right to a device and internet access.
Rachel Brookes, Widening Participation Officer, spoke about the petition saying: "We really need this petition to reach far and wide so that it can become an agenda item for our government. Care leavers get given a pathways plan to help them through the transition of being in care, to a care leaver, but finances involved in this plan are minimal, and certainly don't stretch to overcome the digital divide they will face when setting up life independently."
To get involved with National Care Leavers' Week on social media, follow the hashtag #NCLW2020.