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Stonepillow clients are off to university!

Stonepillow clients are off to university!

15th July 2019

We have been working with our partners, the University of Chichester, to transform the lives of our clients by giving them the skills and confidence to apply for degree courses. The pioneering initiative, which is the first of its kind in the UK, helps individuals without necessary qualifications to learn new skills and bridge the gap to higher education.

Senior lecturer Becky Edwards, from the University of Chichester, developed the project to help reduce barriers to higher education.

"Being intelligent and being educated are not synonymous,” she said. “Some of the most intelligent people in the UK are living in poverty, both economically and aspirationally.

“They’ve not been privileged enough or supported enough to access good education. Going to university is simply something they’d never have considered - this gives us the chance to change that.”

The bridging module, which has been backed by the Office for Students, utilises the students’ lived experiences to develop academic reading, writing, and research skills, self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-belief. Honest and insightful links are made between themes like emotional intelligence, reflective practice, decision-making skills, critical thinking - and past, often painful, experiences.

Among the cohort is Lucy who started sleeping rough at just 16 years of age before falling into addiction. Now, at the age of 30, she is about to start a fine art degree.

Speaking about the University project she said: “It has given us the confidence to start a degree. We cover subjects from critical thinking, different learning styles, referencing, and essay writing, to gain the tools to move forward to university.”

Lucy is one of five students, all homeless and mostly recovering from addiction, who have successfully completed the bridging module and have now applied to or been accepted onto university courses.

Another student, Mike, lived on the streets for more than three months after losing his job of ten years. The 31-year-old, who is now a resident at Stonepillow, will start a full-time degree in English and creative writing in 2020.

He said: “This is not just an opportunity for us to go to university, but to change the way that people view us, and make sure we are not defined by our past experiences. We all have a willingness to learn, and to learn what we can, so that we don’t go back to the lives we once had.”

The students’ entry to the course was funded by a Stonepillow JustGiving campaign set up at the end of last year and we are so grateful to all our supporters who made this possible.

Laura Bulbeck, Stonepillow PR & Events Manager, attended the awards ceremony last month and said, “We are extremely proud of our clients for all the hard work and dedication they put in to completing the course. We would also like to say a huge thank you to Becky, Chris and the team at the University of Chichester who made this possible. We look forward to continuing to work together to support more people and watch how this initiative progress.”