Edge Hill University has signed the Care Leaver Covenant to pledge its support to students with experience of care.

The covenant solidifies the University’s commitment to provide support for care leavers in their journey to, within, and from higher education. 

Edge Hill has signed the Covenant during the first ever Care Experienced History Month, which aims to raise awareness of what it means to be care-experienced, and to commemorate the stories of care experienced people throughout history.  

Approximately 75,000 children are in care in England at any given time, with only 13 per cent of young people who were looked after continuously for 12 months or more participating in higher education by the age of 19, compared to 43 per cent of all other young people. 

Megan Furlong-Gallagher is a care experienced student at Edge Hill. A Mental Health Nursing student, Megan spoke about her experience of starting university last year. 

She said: “As a care experienced and estranged student, I had no permanent place of residence at the time.  

“During a period in your life that is supposed to be exciting, I found it really stressful. But when I learned about the Transitions team at Edge Hill, I set up a meeting with them and I could not be more thankful that I did.  

“I was supported with finding accommodation and accessing the right kind of support that I needed to help me start my journey at Edge Hill. I feel reassured and grateful to know that any member of the team is only an email away to offer guidance when needed, as someone who does not receive this support from family, it’s very much appreciated.” 

Student Megan Furlong-Gallagher smiling
Megan Furlong-Gallagher

The Office for Students encourage universities to support care experienced students in their Access and Participation Plans. Signing the Covenant forms part of Edge Hill’s wider Access and Participation work to support student groups who are underrepresented within higher education to access, succeed and progress.  

Amy Lawson is another care experienced student who has defied the national statistics to progress to higher education.  

Amy, who is in her final year studying Drama at Edge Hill, said: “As a care experienced student, I felt supported at Edge Hill because of the wide array of support services available.

“Through a meeting set up by the Transitions team, I met other care experience students in the same position as me, encouraging me I wasn’t alone. The communication between the teams on campus also bring a level of reassurance as when you need help, they are already aware of your situation. Support is available at any time through Campus Security, Wellbeing and Transitions.”

Dr Heather Piggott, Strategic Lead for Access and Participation at Edge Hill, said: “We recognise that university can often be a daunting time for students with care experience. The Care Leaver Covenant signifies Edge Hill’s commitment to provide holistic support for this student group, by providing bespoke support pre-entry through our Widening Access team, whilst on course through our Transitions team, and broader support through our accommodation, financial and careers offers of support too.

“The Transitions team at Edge Hill work closely with care experienced and estranged students to offer guidance and support to help them make the most of their time at university as they enter a new chapter in their lives.” 

Earlier this year, Edge Hill also pledged to commit greater support for students who are studying without the support of a family network by signing the Stand Alone Pledge. The pledge is designed to support students who are estranged from their families and encourages universities to be a ‘champion’ institution for estranged students.

If you are a care experienced or estranged student and want to learn about the support Edge Hill’s Transitions team can offer, or if you are a member of staff wanting to know more about how we can support our care experienced students, please get in touch by emailing [email protected]

If you are an educational practitioner in a school or college, a member of a Virtual School or Leaving Care team, or another organisation working with care-experienced or estranged students, please contact the Widening Participation team at [email protected]  to find out more about the pre-entry outreach activities and support that we offer.