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Excellence Scholarship winner Verity Beaton in the Catalyst building.Verity Beaton is using personal setbacks to fuel her career ambitions. Her endeavours have been recognised with a prestigious Excellence Scholarship.

The 21-year-old from Warrington has faced struggles with mental health and the tragic loss of a close friend, as well as a late autism diagnosis, which hindered her education.

“I didn’t really do too well in high school or college, I struggled a lot mentally and then I got diagnosed with autism at the age of 15, which explained why I found a mainstream high school so difficult.”

After leaving college early she began work at a dog day care centre – but realised as a career path, it wasn’t for her.

“I did an apprenticeship in animal health and welfare and as much as I enjoyed spending time with the dogs, it wasn’t something I wanted to pursue.”

It was a chance visit to Edge Hill which first opened her eyes to the possibility of higher education through the Fastrack route.

“I first visited when a friend was looking to apply, and I just happened to go with her. I always thought it was a beautiful campus and enjoyed the area.”

Verity’s volunteering experience began at a young age. She became a young carer for her disabled mother aged six, before linking up with the Warrington Disability Partnership at their Disability Awareness Day.

“I started volunteering in the sports zone at the age of eight, and I still try to go and volunteer every year. It’s important for there to be more knowledge on disabilities, which is what the day provides.”

Verity got involved with the #SASSY (Support Against Self Harm & Suicide in Youth) campaign following the passing of close friend, Julia Derbyshire, in October 2015.

“Julia struggled with her mental health. Her father, Adrian, set up the campaign to spread awareness of what it can sometimes unfortunately lead to and it is on its way to becoming a charity rather than just a campaign.”

The group run a stall in Warrington town centre one Saturday each month, a presence through which they can offer support, advice and information.

“I have seen many people join because they can relate to struggling from mental health, and many people have received help after talking to us.

“Adrian also travels and talks to schools, which I see as a positive. More young people are understanding mental health and realising that it is okay to talk about issues people may be having, and to not hide them and feel ashamed.”

With an eight-month-old son, Verity admits that balancing being a mother alongside her studies and voluntary work can be a strain, although she is determined to succeed at Edge Hill and forge a career involving either the probation service, young offenders and criminal profiling.

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