On Saturday the 14th November we held the first virtual event of the Alliance of care Experienced People in Higher Education. It was a great session involving people with care-experience working and studying in higher education (HE) at all levels, from undergraduate to academic staff. We were also joined by allies in research, whose specialisms include care-leavers in HE, and professional HE staff who are working to increase participation of care-leavers and/or supporting people with care-experienced backgrounds in HE. What was particularly astounding was how, through the technology we were able to connect internationally.
The conversations that went on were rich with depth, connection, empathy and insight. A special thank you must go to everybody who joined the discussion, there is so much to capture from this first event! I guess that is what happens when you get a group of people together with shared interests. In the words of one of the team, “it was heart warming”.
The Team met this morning and reviewed the notes we took from the session. What came up were a number of interconnected themes that we want to share with you here. These are:
- Imposter Syndrome
- Financial support & age boundaries for support
- Stigma & Discriminations
- Pros & Cons of declaring CEP status
- Trauma being triggered while studying/doing research
- No-one to help with proof-reading etc.
- Benefits of this group – especially not feeling so alone.
A part of our agenda for the day was understanding from people with care experience work and studying in HE was what they thought ACEPHE could do to support them.
- There was a focus on the group providing future opportunities for mutual support, from undergraduates through to academics.
- There was a consensus on the benefits of having ‘closed’ (care leaver only) meetings and ‘open’ (including anyone sympathetic to our aims, such as those allies who joined us on Saturday).
- Value of a face-to-face conference in the future.
The Team have reflected on this and want to make sure CEP working and studying in HE have an opportunity to connect together again before Christmas. We are planning a Care Leaver/ Care Experienced Social closed group for Saturday 19th December at 10am (UK time)- so save the date! If you know anybody who is a care-leaver studying or working in Higher Education, please pass this on. We will have a chance to pick up and discuss these themes together and have a bit of fun with a quiz!
In the meantime, the Team will continue to work behind the scenes to set dates for further ‘open’ and ‘closed’ groups… So watch this space for more updates!