The first students to benefit from a new service aimed at improving outcomes for care experienced young people at college met the First Minister recently.
The students from Glasgow’s three colleges and West College Scotland opened up to Nicola Sturgeon about their personal experiences, as she backed an Action for Children project aimed at improving outcomes for care-experienced young people attending college.
23-year-old Courage Eregbu studies accountancy at City of Glasgow College and is a budding musician. He is one of the first students to benefit from Action for Children’s STAY programme and performed a Lewis Capaldi song for the First Minister.
“I play my own music, but I wanted the First Minister to recognise the song. Lewis is obviously Scottish so I thought she would enjoy it.
I feel that the STAY project is really important. Life became more difficult for me when I left care and that might be the same for other students in similar situations - that’s when you need the moral support.
My STAY support worker Ashleigh helps me believe that there are people that care and supports me with my college work and my music, but she always makes sure I prioritise my studies.”
Action for Children joined forces with Glasgow Colleges Regional Board (GCRB) and West College Scotland to offer the partnership service, the STAY programme, providing practical and emotional help to care-experienced students to help them succeed in college and beyond. In Scotland, 93% of school leavers progressed to positive destinations in 2017/18, compared to 76% of children in care that year and 69% of children in care for part of the year.
The First Minister spoke with students and their support workers to hear how the support has helped them, during the visit at Glasgow Kelvin College’s east end campus.
The launch of the STAY initiative comes as the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) launched its National Ambition for Care Experienced Students which calls for colleges and universities to ensure there is no difference in outcomes for care experienced students by 2030.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“Young people with care experience often have more barriers to overcome than their peers but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the same ambitions and achieve the same goals.
Initiatives like the new STAY service are vital to ensure every young person in Scotland, regardless of their background, has access to the same experiences and education and, ultimately, the same chance to live a happy, fulfilled and successful life.
It was a pleasure to meet the young people who are already benefiting from STAY and their support workers who are providing not only practical but emotional help too, the service is clearly already making a big difference.”
Paul Carberry, Action for Children Director for Scotland, added:
“In order to support these young people to make the most of their potential, talent and learning opportunities, we are working in partnership with the colleges to deliver the STAY service.
From our experience, someone being there for you when you are struggling to cope, can make all the difference. A simple act like a knock at their door, a text message, or just being available for a chat can be so effective.
I am really looking forward to STAY becoming an integral part of the student support provision, the success of the project will be care experienced students fulfilling their potential in college.”
The First Minister also met with 18-year-old Stuart Moffat, who has been in and out of care since the age of eight. He was referred to STAY programme by his learning support worker and now has regular meetings with Alannah, his dedicated support worker, at Glasgow Kelvin College.
“I love it here in Glasgow, there is so much more to do, and I really enjoy being at college and studying something I am interested in. I have a lot of support available from different services through being in care, but it’s comforting knowing that I have someone in the actual college to access support from.”
Janie McCusker, Chair of Glasgow Colleges’ Regional Board, added: "We are delighted to welcome the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to the Glasgow College region and to provide an overview of the STAY programme for care-experienced learners.
"There is a dedicated key worker on hand at each of the three colleges in Glasgow to support care-experienced students and we are pleased that they are benefitting from this additional help and guidance.
We aim to build on the success of this collaborative project and help our learners progress to positive destinations.”
Link to the video here: https://youtu.be/Ymk-1TGazxo
Glasgow Kelvin College was delighted to help our partners host the event and thanks go to all the staff involved for their work in making the launch such a success.