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Excellence Scholarship winner Rachel Walker in the Catalyst building.Rachel Walker believes that giving up her time at Brian House has helped enhance her future opportunities.

The 19-year-old Psychology student from Blackpool, who has been awarded an Excellence Scholarship, volunteered for 10 months at the children’s hospice in Bispham near Blackpool which provides respite, palliative and end-of-life care for young people with life-limiting conditions.

“The feeling of aiding these children and the incredible staff was amazing. I felt I was making a positive impact by spending a few hours a week to play with them and make them feel at ease.”

Rachel had also volunteered at Blackpool Victoria Hospital and at her local primary school, Baines Endowed in Thornton-Cleveleys, before Brian House, where she started in October 2017.

“Initially, I found it challenging and upsetting because the children are so poorly and really need 24/7 care.

“However, I knew that I was doing the right thing when a little girl ran up to me the next week and hugged me as she remembered me and wanted to play with me. This made me feel like I was really making a difference; it’s amazing that just a few hours of my time can impact the children’s lives so much.”

Rachel volunteered every Wednesday until August 2018 and hopes to return soon.

“Whilst the experience allowed me to give back, I also gained some life-long skills: communication, empathy, teamwork and using my initiative in difficult situations.”

Allied with her volunteering, Rachel believes Edge Hill is the right place for her to move into her chosen career, working with children or in forensic psychology.

“Not only did my education influence me, but my volunteering also played a big part, allowing me to gain a better understanding of working in real-life situations. I knew higher education would be right as a Psychology degree would open several doors.

“Edge Hill was always the university I was most interested in. Not only did I love the taster sessions, I also loved the campus and accommodation. The students and staff were happy and helpful, and this made me realise that the atmosphere was one that was difficult to beat. I couldn’t fault anything on the open days I attended.

“I have made some amazing friends and I am continuously learning, which has made me more confident. Consequently, university has been an excellent experience.”

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