Bristol student says care leavers with no family need more support during coronavirus

Nadia is now launching a campaign to better represent care leavers at university. Credit: ITV West Country

A student who lived in 40 different foster homes before starting her degree at the University of Bristol says more needs to be done to support student care leavers.

Nadia Sajir went into care at 13 years old. She says too often foster children are forgotten about when they move to university which can be one of the most challenging times for care leavers.

In 2018-2019, only 6% of care leavers were known to be in higher education.

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Nadia says, "Care leavers aren't encouraged to pursue higher education, nearly half drop out, and it's such a shame because they could be lawyers, doctors, if they were just encouraged to pursue higher education which they're not."

She now says she wants to raise awareness about the lack of support for care leavers at university.

She's launching a new network to offer support and advice to care leavers and is calling on local authorities and universities to offer more consistent support.

Here's a video Nadia created with her team to help spread the word:

Nadia says it is now more important than ever during the coronavirus pandemic to provide the right support for care leavers.

She says, "Bristol's empty right now because all the students have returned home and everyone's being encouraged to return home and be with their loved ones but that's really really tough for any care leaver to hear. I can't return home because I don't have a home."

Maria Tottle is a Mature Students' & Peer Support Adviser at the University of Bristol.

She says there needs to be consistent support for care leavers and estranged students at university and says it's the years after that can often be the hardest.