A second chance at an education

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Hollie is a care leaver from Northern Ireland. in this blog she talks about her experiences of foster care and how it has transformed her life.

My name is Hollie and I am currently in my final year at Ulster University. I didn’t decide to go to university until I was 18. While all my friends knew by this stage what they wanted to do with their future, I was a bit slower at making this decision. After I completed my A levels I studied for an extra year at a further education college which led to me having an unconditional offer for my degree.

Growing up with my foster carers, Heather and Trevor, education was a priority and they always pushed me to study and work hard. They wanted me to be the very best I could be. Throughout my GCSEs and A levels my dad Trevor always insisted I get my homework done after school and have a routine. He still offers me the same advice ‘early to bed - early to rise: makes a woman healthy, wealthy and wise.’

Being in care has fortunately given me many opportunities. I had a lot of support from my personal advisor, social worker and the Fostering Achievement scheme. All this support has helped a great deal in getting me to where I am today.

My social worker and personal advisor provided me with things like academic help, books, and travel expenses, to name a few. They have both gone the extra mile, even helping me find work experience relevant to my degree. I will always appreciate this support.

The Fostering Network also supporting me throughout my studies through Fostering Achievement. I always struggled at maths, I still do. After failing GCSE maths for the first time my foster carer Heather arranged for me to receive tuition – without this tuition I still wouldn’t have my GCSE maths. They also got me a laptop which has proved invaluable in helping me with A level assignments and all my university coursework.

I believe that for me going to university has been as a result of everyone working together to give me more chance of a better future – my foster carers, social worker, personal advisor and the Fostering Achievement staff. Now I’m in university I also have the support of a dedicated care leaver co-ordinator and receive an annual bursary.

To many people these would all seem small chances, but they have all counted towards the bigger picture - my future.

I often look back to where I was 10 years ago, before I went into foster care. I know for sure if I didn’t move in with Heather and Trevor I would have left school without even a GCSE in Maths. I would not have done my A-levels which would obviously mean university would never be in my grasp.

To be given this second chance to have my education, a degree and hopefully a Masters in Law, is very much a dream.