Catherine is studying interior design at Kingston University. She shares her story...
The experience of Catherine shows the very different challenges that students who have caring responsibilities may face. From a young age Catherine became the primary carer for her younger brother. "It wasn't just him that I was looking after though; it was my parents too." The stress, workload, and emotional burden that this placed on her was immense and despite doing very well at school and college, Catherine felt that "a university degree was not a viable option for me, particularly if it meant leaving my brother on his own." However, the support and understanding offered by Kingston persuaded her that this needn't be the case.
"The emotional support that Kingston uniquely offers combined, of course, with the fact that it was one of the best institutions for my course in interior design, meant that I felt confident in giving it a go. I received one-to-one support and got to see a therapist once a week to talk about my work load and how I'm coping with everything. Very quickly I knew that I'd made the right decision."
Catherine was also an integral member of the Annual Fund student calling team, raising money for KU Cares and other projects. "Despite initially feeling nervous about picking up the telephone and talking to Kingston's alumni, I actually found it very liberating to tell my story and to raise the money that can make a difference to those potential students who may be deciding against taking the plunge into higher education. It's so important for young people to realise that there is support available, both emotional and financial, when you are studying, and that you are not left to your own devices and expected to muddle through."
Catherine feels much more confident about the future, both for herself and her brother. "He is hoping to join the Royal Marines, and I hope to become a self-employed interior designer. I feel confident that both of these things are going to happen."
Names in this story have been changed to protect the anonymity of our students.