This blog is part of the series featuring ideas contained in the new HEPI-Brightside report, Reaching the parts of society universities have missed: A manifesto for the new Director for Fair Access and Participation. It showcases the idea from Beth Taswell, Care Leaver and Young Adult Carer Support Officer, City, University of London.
It is essential to allocate care leavers a Designated Member of Staff who is not having to balance this role alongside another. This will enable practitioners to focus on the transition and on-course support for students, so that provision and policy can be developed effectively (and by the experts) and meaningful relationships can be built between the Designated Member of Staff and students. It will also allow practitioners to look after their own wellbeing in an emotionally-charged job.
As a care leaver myself, when I was studying my designated contact focused solely on the support and provision for vulnerable student groups. Because of this, I felt valued as an individual and not a hindrance on someone’s time. With that kind of relationship, I was able to trust that the Designated Member of Staff’s advice and support was about what was best for me and not just what was best for the institution.
The Director of Fair Access and Participation could support greater collaboration between local authorities and higher education institutions to ensure that young people are supported effectively both in and out of university. The Office for Students could engage with the National Network for the Education of Care Leavers to support better co-ordination and dissemination of knowledge and best practice.