LIFE became more difficult for Courage Eregbu when he left care.

“That is when you need the moral support the most,” said the 23-year-old, who is studying accountancy at City of Glasgow College. “That might be the same for other students in similar situations. That’s why STAY is such an important project. My support worker helps me believe there are people that care.”

Courage, along with fellow students from Glasgow’s three colleges and West College Scotland, is one of the first to benefit from an Action for Children project aimed at supporting care experienced young people at college.

They shared their stories with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon yesterday at Glasgow Kelvin College, as she backed the programme.

Courage, who is a budding musician, performed Lewis Capaldi’s ‘Someone You Loved’ at the event.

“I play my own music, but I wanted the First Minister to recognise the song,” he explained. “Lewis is obviously Scottish so I thought she would enjoy it.”

Glasgow Times:

Courage Eregbu

Action for Children has joined forces with Glasgow Colleges Regional Board (GCRB) and West College Scotland to offer the partnership service, which provides practical and emotional help to care-experienced students to help them succeed in college and beyond.

In Scotland, 93 percent of school leavers progressed to positive destinations in 2017/18, compared to 76 per cent of children in care, and 69 per cent of children in care for part of the year.

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The launch of the STAY initiative comes as the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) announced its National Ambition for Care Experienced Students, which calls for colleges and universities to ensure there is no difference in outcomes for care experienced students by 2030.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Young people with care experience often have more barriers to overcome than their peers but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the same ambitions and achieve the same goals.

“Initiatives like the new STAY service are vital to ensure every young person in Scotland, regardless of their background, has access to the same experiences and education and, ultimately, the same chance to live a happy, fulfilled and successful life.”

She added: “It was a pleasure to meet the young people who are already benefitting from STAY and their support workers, who are providing not only practical but emotional help too. The service is clearly already making a big difference.”

Glasgow Times:

Some of the students, pictured with Paul Carberry and Nicola Sturgeon

Paul Carberry, Action for Children Director for Scotland, added: “In order to support these young people to make the most of their potential, talent and learning opportunities, we are working in partnership with the colleges to deliver the STAY service.

“From our experience, someone being there for you when you are struggling to cope, can make all the difference. A simple act like a knock at their door, a text message, or just being available for a chat can be so effective.”

He added: “I am really looking forward to STAY becoming an integral part of the student support provision. The success of the project will be care experienced students fulfilling their potential in college.”

The First Minister also met with 18-year-old Stuart Moffat, who has been in and out of care since the age of eight.

He was referred to STAY by his learning support worker and now has regular meetings with Alannah, his dedicated support worker, at Glasgow Kelvin College.

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Stuart said: “I love it here in Glasgow, as there is so much more to do, and I really enjoy being at college and studying something I am interested in.

“I have a lot of support available from different services through being in care, but it’s comforting knowing that I have someone in the college to access support from.”

Janie McCusker, Chair of Glasgow Colleges’ Regional Board, added: “We were delighted to welcome the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, to the Glasgow College region and to provide an overview of the STAY programme for care-experienced learners.

“There is a dedicated key worker on hand at each of the three colleges in Glasgow to support care-experienced students and we are pleased that they are benefitting from this additional help and guidance.

“We aim to build on the success of this collaborative project and help our learners progress to positive destinations.”