- The Foundation and University of East London launched the CareTech Foundation Care Leavers Bursary Grant scheme, which incorporates work experiences opportunities with financial support, to inspire other care and educational institutions to provide the necessary support for care-experienced students.
- CareTech plc has also joined the Foundation in signing up to the new Care Leaver Friendly Employer Charter
The Foundation, in partnership with The University of East London (UEL), have officially launched the CareTech Foundation Care Leavers Bursary Grant, the first of its kind, to provide both financial support and work experience opportunities to care leavers entering university. The scheme focuses on students studying for health and social care-related degrees. The new scheme has been established to address the massive under-representation of care leavers at university, with only 6% of care leavers represented in higher education compared to 42% of their non-care-experienced peers.
At the launch event, held at UEL’s Docklands Campus last Wednesday night, five UEL students with care backgrounds were awarded the first round of grants. Our Foundation Manager, Tariq Raja, hosted the event while Professor Amanda Broderick the Vice Chancellor and President of UEL, and CareTech plc Executive Chairman and trustee of the Foundation, Farouq Sheikh OBE, delivered inspiring speeches. Also in attendance were Shabir Randeree CBE, Chancellor of UEL and Jonathan Freeman MBE, CEO of the Foundation.
At the event, Farouq Sheikh OBE also announced that CareTech plc had signed up to the new Care Leaver Friendly Employer Charter created by the Care Leaver Covenant organisation. This new scheme commits companies to a range of steps to help care leavers secure jobs.
Katarina Blanco, Student Money and Rights Team (SMART) Advisor at UEL, shared a testimony, from one of the awarded UEL recipients; of what having a grant like this means to Care Leavers studying at university, saying:
“Being a care leaver in higher education does have its struggles, but the staff at UEL have really supported me. From advice to bursaries, everything has been covered. Bursaries such as this [CareTech Foundation’s] have given me the financial freedom to be able to travel back and forth outside of London to campus, get the latest technology and buy my own copies of books for my courses. This is something I wouldn’t have been able to do alone.”
Viktoria Tchibor, a care leaver who received care at By the Bridge, a subsidiary of CareTech PLC, and alumni of Kings College of London, spoke of her own experience as a care leaver and what financial help at university meant for her:
“For those young people to have access to something financially, it can create a foundation for them to choose whatever career they want and provides the freedom to have time to focus on their education and not having to worry about paying bills at university. You have time and space to be able to focus on what it is you went to university to do, which is to learn.”
The grant will offer a bursary of £1,000 a year to a student studying a health or social care course at university and will offer support to up to five young people at any one university per year, but these will be multi-year commitments to provide ongoing support through the student’s university careers. Any young people with a disability will receive an additional £250 per year and on graduation, an additional award of £250 will be made to celebrate the success of their commitment.
UEL, which has one the largest populations of care leaver students in the country, will also work to actively promote the grant to incoming students from a care leaver background and report on their progress annually, allowing the us to provide the best levels of support.
UEL and CareTech Foundation hope that this model will set an example for other care sector providers as it is sorely needed to address the low number of care leavers who attend and maintain their studies at university. With the national presence offered by CareTech PLC’s 550 sites, frontline work experience in a nurturing environment will provide confidence, comfort and security to the recipients of the grant.
Attendees at the event included representatives from the Foundation’s Partnerships Grant, including The Prince’s Trust, OnSide Youth Zones, EY Foundation and the Care Leavers Covenant who we have now joined, signalling a move to supporting young people not just in care but also continuing that commitment of support in life after care. Significantly, as the largest social care provider for adults and children across the UK, CareTech PLC’s joining of the Covenant is a notable step in the company’s commitment to supporting young people who are care experienced with employment opportunities in a sector they know intimately well.