This Care Experienced History Month, which runs throughout April, members of the panel spoke out to reassure existing and prospective students that help is at hand.
Lily-Joy Lancashire, a member of the panel, shared this positive message: “You’re never alone as a student here, there is always someone there to help. And whether it is the panel or your friends, as long as you reach out and try and get that help, you are not alone.
“My ambition for the panel is to raise more awareness and help Edge Hill be a safe place for students from a care background and estranged students.”
Creating the Care Leaver, Care Experienced and Estranged Student Advisory Panel is the University’s latest move in its ongoing commitment to collaborate with students to inform the delivery of its Access and Participation Plan.
A group of students have been brought together to share their experiences and offer their opinions and ideas to help the University better support students pre-entry and once they have enrolled.
By sharing their lived experiences of care and estrangement, the students help inform policy and practice, and provide staff with a steer on how new initiatives might impact them.
Ideas to come out of the first panel meeting include creating a Welcome Week get together for estranged students and those from a care background as well as more practical help for those who won’t be arriving with parents; there are also plans to discuss how graduation ceremonies can be carried out more sensitively.
19-year-old Lily-Joy, from Ormskirk, said: “I was really interested in the student advisory panel, it sounded like a good opportunity for me to share my personal experience and raise awareness of situations which are often swept under the carpet.
“At Edge Hill there is always help available. If you’re going through something and you’re suffering alone, you don’t have to be. There’s always a friendly face, there’s no problem that you won’t be able to get help with.”
The first-year animation student added: “No-one will experience the exact same as you but there’s always going to be people there who are willing to give a helping hand and that’s what our role is, to help, to provide guidance for other students and staff.”
Dr Heather Lloyd, Head of Access and Participation, said: “We want to improve equality of opportunity and better align services with the students’ needs; and to do that well we need to work as closely as possible with students who have lived experience of being in care or being estranged.
“We are asking the students what they need and what barriers they have come up against and they are helping us design the support we can provide, both pre-entry to university and when studying with us.”
This student advisory panel is the fifth to be set up by Edge Hill’s Widening Access and Participation Team, sitting alongside panels for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic students, mature students, first generation students and students with disabilities.
To find out what support is available to Care Leavers, Care Experienced and Estranged students visit the Widening Access and Participation team webpages for pre-entry, or the Student Support team webpages for on-course support. For enquiries email [email protected].
Edge Hill University has committed to developing its Equality, Diversion and Inclusion (EDI) agenda over the past 12 months, having recently published its new EDI strategy after commissioning Advanced HE’s research team to conduct a bespoke review of its policies.
Over the last 12 months Edge Hill University has been awarded the NNECL Quality Mark, has signed the Care Leaver Covenant and taken the Stand Alone Pledge for Estranged Students, demonstrating the University’s ongoing commitment to supporting students with care experience and those who are estranged from their families.
Care Experienced History Month, launched in 2021, aims to raise awareness of what it means to be care experienced and to commemorate the stories of care experienced people though history.