I’m in my third year studying Philosophy, Religion and Ethics at The University of Essex.  

I always knew I’d go to uni if I got the grades I needed. It was only when I got the grades that I realised I’d be moving 150 miles away from comfort and had no idea how to afford all of the costs that come with going to uni. My Personal Advisor did a great job of getting me the financial support I needed. I also had foster carers who are knowledgeable in Higher Education so I never really panicked.

I knew it was important to tick the box on the UCAS form stating I have been in care. It was definitely a financial reason for ticking the box. My Personal Advisor said I should tick the box to ensure I didn’t get extra financial pressures on me.

"I plan to practise social work and make my way as high to the top as I can!"

I’ve found uni fun and feel I’ve progressed hugely. My main worries were moving away from friends and familiarity, but I just grew more tolerant. Living with new people is one of the worst and best experiences. You meet people with so many different beliefs and backgrounds. There were specific challenges to do with being a care leaver - in my second year house, one estate agent wouldn’t accept a local authority as a guarantor for the rent, so I had to ask my granddad, who I didn’t really have a strong enough relationship with at the time, to step in.

It had been understood that I’d stay with my carers over the holidays if I got into uni. As long as I let them know when I was back, there was space for me. It wouldn’t necessarily be in my room, as they also looked after several other children in care, but somewhere. At the start of my third year I moved permanently into my university house. I have the house for a year so I don’t have to worry about where I live during the holidays.

After I graduate, I plan to start a Masters in social work, which is like a three year degree crammed into a two years. I hope to practise social work and make my way as high as I can to the top!

Emma