By Teddy Coward, Third Year English
A care leaver is someone who has spent a substantial period of time in foster care, whilst an estranged student is someone with limited to no contact with their family.
A Bristol SU campaign has been launched today to raise awareness, and offer support, to care leavers and estranged students at the University of Bristol.
Nadia Sajir, Chair of Bristol SU’s Care Leavers and Estranged Students Network (CLESN), has launched the initiative with the aim of increasing recognition of the community and encouraging students to sign a pledge to become a ‘care ally’.
The campaign is the largest of its kind ever run by a UK university students’ union, with the specific focus of raising awareness for care leavers.
A care leaver is someone who has spent a substantial period of time growing up in foster care, whilst an estranged student is someone without a family network.
There are estimated to be 45 care leavers currently at Bristol University, whilst the number of estranged students is currently unknown.
Nationally, only 6 per cent of care leavers aged 19-21 go into higher education, and those that do are nearly twice as likely than their peers to drop out.
Sajir, a care leaver herself, told Epigram that current lockdown measures are bringing into focus the isolation felt by many care leavers and the importance of raising awareness about their situation.
‘I think it’s vital at a time like this we recognise that not everybody has a home to return to,’ she said, ‘that not everybody has a family that cares where they are, whether they’re in good health or whether they’ve done their Uni work.
‘The main purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness among the student body. If there’s one thing I want to achieve by this campaign it would simply be for more students to be aware of the term ‘care leaver’ and understand what it is.’
In addition to signing the ‘care allies pledge’, the campaign is advocating four steps for the wider student community to consider: ‘Educate Yourself’, ‘Listen’, ‘Be Aware’ and ‘Offer Support’.
Sajir was voted in as first chair of the Care Leavers and Estranged Students Network in October this year. Last month she helped deliver 45 Covid-19 care packages to members of the network.
You can sign the care allies pledge here.
Featured images: Care Leavers and Estranged Students Network / Nicole Agnew
Are you involved with the care leavers campaign? Let us know.