The South and West Wales Reaching Wider partnership offers a range of learning and aspiration raising activities to those living in Communities First areas and care experienced young people from across South West Wales.
Reaching Wider has been working to raise the academic aspiration for care experienced young people across South West wales. It is estimated that approximately only 7% of young people who are in care go on to study at university. Multiple changes in where the young person lives and frequent changes of schools are just two of the factors which can make the path into Higher Education extremely difficult. Often care experienced young people will enter university later than those who have not been in care. Reaching Wider is working to ensure that academic aspiration remains at the forefront for each young person, providing a path to access all opportunities available to them.
Reaching Wider has been working with the Looked After Child Education departments in Swansea, Neath Port Talbot and most recently Carmarthenshire to provide aspiration raising opportunities for care experienced young people across South West Wales. The programme has been varied ranging from single day events where the young people have experienced events such as Fireworks workshops and Tower Car racing to Stress Management, Mindfulness and taking over the Swansea University TV, Radio and Waterfront newspaper. Reaching Wider have also organised opportunities for young people to come and visit departments that are of particular interest to them and also to meet with Money@Campuslife who have been able to discuss the Care Leavers support package that is available at Swansea University.
Reaching Wider has arranged for one young person, who has a keen interest in becoming a lawyer, to work with Bridget Kerr of Swansea University’s College of Law and Criminology. The young person has been coming down to the university after school for 6 months and focussing on different aspects within the field of Criminology. She had the opportunity of meeting with Elwen Evans QC, Head of the College of Law and Criminology, who spoke to her about what it is like to be a lawyer and the experience of being in court. This was an incredible experience which the young person will remember for ever. When asked about how working with Reaching Wider and the College of Law and Criminology has impacted on her she said “Going to the university and spending time with Bridget has really improved things for me and made me feel that I can have a better future. It has made me feel good about myself. I feel comfortable at the Uni”.
Most recently the young people have had the opportunity to attend a Criminology day and a Creative Writing – Fairytales and Superheroes day, delivered on Singleton Campus and supported by the Reaching Wider Student Leaders. Coming up in July, the young people will attend a two day residential experience on Singleton Campus, where they will undertake aspiration raising activities during the day and then stay overnight in University Halls of Residence, again organised and delivered by the Reaching Wider team and their Student Leaders.
Reaching Wider has been visiting the social work teams across Swansea and Neath Port Talbot to talk to the social workers about the educational opportunities available to the young people they support and also delivering training sessions to Foster Carers and Social Workers.
A young person’s guide to FE and HE for Care Experienced young people has been produced by Reaching Wider and can be found via the Reaching Wider website http://www.swansea.ac.uk/reaching-wider/lacandcareleavers/
Reaching Wider offers casual work opportunities for university students who wish to gain experience of working with young people. Our opportunities can fit around your timetable, boost your CV, count towards your HEAR (Higher Education Achievement Report) award and also offer generous rates of pay. If you are interested in working for us we would love to hear from you. Contact us at www.swansea.ac.uk/reaching-wider/ and firstname.lastname@example.org