For any young person, the chance to explore their potential is always an exciting life development, whether joining the workforce or pursuing higher education. But for Carrie, it was a chance to move on from her past and create a stable home for her daughter.
Around the time she turned 18, Carrie experienced excessive bleeding whilst pregnant; a biopsy showed Carrie had Stage 1 cervical cancer.
Luckily, after seven weeks of radiotherapy, Carrie was given the all clear. This prognosis meant she could start looking forward to the future. After a childhood spent in care, Carrie was determined to make her daughter’s life easier than hers had been.
"I thought, ‘If I were to die there and then, what would I have to show for my life?’ Nothing, really. It really changed my mindset,” she said. “I didn’t care about my past, I was just so determined to be everything for my daughter.”
So Carrie applied for an Open University degree in Social Care. With help from the Centrepoint Bursary, she was able to study without the worry of paying for course fees or the day-to-day expenses that could prevent her from attending.
When a young person arrives at Centrepoint, they have often lived a life that no one their age should have to endure. For Carrie, she had already suffered a family breakdown, abuse, rough sleeping and cancer; all whilst she was still a teenager.
This kind of trauma is usually fertile ground for homelessness: without a support system, young people will often resort to rough sleeping or sofa surfing. This completely upends any sense of normality or stability that young people so desperately need: the toll of having nowhere safe to stay means their education can fall to the wayside.
Contact at Centrepoint can be a pivotal moment: our aim for young people is ‘a job and a home’, and we work hard with those who come to us for help, ensuring that their hope for independence becomes a reality.
An employment offer or a placement in higher education is such an achievement for young people like Carrie, whose life until this point has been solely fixated on survival – it brings them that one step closer to ‘a job and home’. But after all that hard work, it can all too easily slip through their fingers if the young person can’t afford their accommodation, or the equipment they need for their course, or even the bus fare to get to work – a fear exacerbated tenfold by the cost of living crisis.
That’s where our Bursary comes in. For Carrie, her Bursary fund is helping to complete her university degree. But there are three different strands to our Bursary offering:
The Childcare Bursary: For young parents like Shante and Carrie, the Childcare Bursary is also available. This Bursary exclusively covers childcare for parents who are in training, education or employment, determined to build a better future for their children
The University Bursary: The Bursary scheme is so diverse in its approach, that your gift could help a homeless young person in a variety of ways. In Carrie’s case, she had access to the University Bursary Fund. This fund takes away financial barriers for young people, helping them pay for essentials like textbooks, course equipment like laptops and travel and accommodation costs.
The Employment, Education and Training Bursary: This supports young people to progress towards full-time work or apprenticeships. It helps young people pay for work suitable clothing or equipment, such as professional hairdressing scissors or construction tools.
The latter supports young people like Tayo. He is undertaking a plumbing apprenticeship, but the tools for his course are expensive: “At the point I was at in the apprenticeship, I needed these things in order to progress,” he recalls. “If I didn’t have the tools, I’d still be learning, but I wouldn’t be learning by doing; I wouldn’t be able to get stuck in.”
The Bursary was able to pay for what he needed. “After I got my tools I was able to do a lot more jobs and it really moved my learning forwards. It took my progression at work far ahead and I’m so grateful for that.”
Shante also benefitted from the Training Fund – as a keen baker, Shante kept herself busy in lockdown by enrolling on a baking, decorating and business course. The Bursary helped with her course fees and the equipment she needed.
“I use the tins, nozzles and piping bags that the Bursary provided all the time,” she said. “I wouldn’t be able to afford those things for the course without the help, which would mean that I would be doing the course and not able to do the practice in my own time.”
Shante, like Carrie, is determined to make something of herself to provide a better life for her children. She hopes to eventually run her own baking business, creating personalised items for customers.
Within a couple of years, Shante could fulfil her dream of becoming a business owner. Tayo could be a qualified plumber. Other Bursary recipients have gone on to study midwifery, forensic science, law, and much more.
As for Carrie? We have no doubt she could be the future for social care: “I got distinctions in all my assignments and got my diploma. I've just started my degree thanks to support from the Bursary.”
It shows that the only thing standing between vulnerable young people and their potential is the funds to get there. Our Bursary ensures that a young person’s future stays firmly within their grip.