Miriam first came to the UK when she was 15 years old. At times she found it hard to adapt to a new culture, but things started to improve when she made some friends and started going to school.
But everything changed two years later. Her parents tried to force her into an arranged marriage and Miriam had no choice but to move out.
After she first left home, Miriam stayed in a women’s aid shelter. She then lived with a foster family for six months before eventually moving to Centrepoint.
“The first person I met was my key worker Tracey – the most loveliest key worker I’ve ever met,” Miriam recalls.
“I’d be lost without Tracey. She helped me with everything – my Bursary for college, my university application, my travel, my benefits. If I received a letter I’d go knock on her door and ask for help.”
Thinking about the future
Settled in at Centrepoint, Miriam then started to focus on her education and told Tracey she wanted to study fashion at university.
“I was about nine or ten when I first started to learn to sew and then one day I thought I should go into fashion because I love it so much,” she explains.
When Miriam first got into university she had never been more excited, but there was a problem. As she had been in the UK for less than five years she couldn’t apply for student finance.
“I’d got into all these great courses but I couldn’t afford to go to any of them,” Miriam recalls.
“I wouldn’t be doing what I do without the Bursary”
But with Tracey’s help, Miriam applied for Centrepoint’s Bursary. With our support, Miriam received a laptop and specialist materials like markers, cutters and paint – all essential for her course.
“When I got my laptop, I was so excited I screamed and cried. I couldn’t believe someone would do this for me,” says Miriam.
“I’ve relied on the bursary. Without it I just wouldn’t be able to do what I want to and not have to choose between course materials or lunch!”
Now, Miriam is making the most of university life – she studies a lot but has enjoyed meeting new people from lots of different cultures.
““My first day at university was crazy but it was the best feeling ever,” she says. “I do go out and let my hair down but everyone is always commenting about how long I spend working in my room – I’m a star student!”
She now dreams of completing a Master’s degree fashion and then one day working for a top designer.
“I wouldn’t be doing what I do without the bursary. It actually helps me directly and I’ll give back to society when I begin working.”