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Become calls for emergency funding from UK government for isolated students without family networks

Become, alongside other charities, is calling for urgent financial and wellbeing help for higher education students facing the coronavirus crisis alone and without family support.

Our joint UK-wide survey of 251 university and college students who are either care-experienced[1] or estranged from their family[2] aims to understand the challenges which students without family support are facing and the additional support they need.

Respondents said they are most worried about being able to earn money to pay for rent and bills (62%), finishing their course (62%), mental health due to isolation (55%), and getting essential food and medical supplies (50%).

We are asking the UK government to fund emergency grants for students who do not have a family home to go back to and who are unable to support themselves as part-time and temporary work has dried up.

Become, Stand Alone, the National Network for the Education of Care Leavers (NNECL), The Unite Foundation, and social value agency Spectra are also calling for:

  • Universities to commit to supporting students’ mental health through online counselling and peer-to-peer initiatives.
  • Government to prevent students becoming homeless by working with student accommodation providers and landlords.
  • Loans of IT equipment to students who need this to continue their studies.

Katharine Sacks-Jones, Chief Executive, Become:

“Care-experienced students have already been through trauma and overcome adversity to make it to university in the first place. Now, with no family to turn to, many are stuck alone on campuses or in student accommodation as their friends return home. They are isolated, their mental health is suffering, and they are facing real hardship as part-time work dries up. At this critical time in their lives, it is imperative that they get the support they need from government and universities so that their futures are not blighted by this crisis.”

The full report is available here.

For further enquiries, please contact Matthew Rogers on 07593 004482 or matthew.rogers@becomecharity.org.uk

 

[1] The survey defined care-experienced as meaning you've spent some time in care when you were younger – this might include time spent living with foster carers, with a relative who isn't your mum or dad, or in a children's home.

[2] Students who are estranged from their family have survived abuse and neglect without any intervention from local authorities. This can include students who have been disowned for coming out as LGBT+, students who have survived forced marriage, or who have been rejected by a new step-parent.