Iqra Saeed – TACT care experienced young person, undergraduate and budding broadcaster shares her views for Care Leavers Week…
Government figures show that about 6% of care experienced young people go on to university.
I am a part of that small figure which leads me to question the factors that are leading care leavers away from higher education.
Some care leavers may not have the option of returning home from university during the Christmas and summer holidays.
However, according to ‘Propel’ (a website which provides information about different universities and support available to care leavers) which was created by a charity called ‘Become’, 84% of universities offer 365-day accommodation.
This means more than half of universities are beginning to understand what care leavers need and hopefully more universities will begin to follow this example and offer increasing support as it could potentially make a difference.
Apprenticeships are another option which care leavers may also look into although there can still be a sense of isolation when you are a young person who happens to be a care leaver.
TACT (The Adolescent and Children’s Trust) is a fostering and adoption organisation who have created TACT Connect, which is specifically for care leavers who were in their care when they were fostered.
TACT Connect funds group activities and trips which are discussed by the group during regular group meetings.
The relaxed meetings provide a support network where young people like myself can seek advice, can socialise or even suggest ideas to TACT Connect.
I recently auditioned for BBC New Voices and was one of the 11 finalists.
This was my first ever audition so understandably I was extremely nervous, but my foster mum and university lecturers and TACT really encouraged me to take this opportunity.
Even though I wasn’t chosen to be the ‘new voice’ for BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, the whole experience was so exciting, positive and taught me a lot.
In my audition I told my story of coming into care and spoke about how ethnicity doesn’t determine the outcome of who you call family.
I chose to talk about this mainly as I don’t feel you always hear about why the care system is so valuable and this could be based on the negative stereotypes that may at times be influenced by the media.
My overall experience of foster care was positive and has allowed me to achieve so much, I don’t think it is something to be ashamed about.
Iqra has produced a series of podcasts for TACT which you can listen to here.