Goodbye self-protective shell, Hello University.

VS had always been prone to anxiety and although had successfully completed A-levels, during COVID restrictions her anxiety levels had increased, and she had gone into a self-protective shell and wasn’t really considering doing anything.

Consequently, her mum referred her after chatting to the CSW transitions worker that is involved in the Educational Health Care Plan (EHCP) reviews for her other daughter. They had been a bit apprehensive in Nick becoming her Key Worker at first as mum felt VS did not relate well to male workers but wanted the support quickly so were prepared to give it a go and it was agreed that if it became particularly problematic she could transfer to a female keyworker once one was available. Nick developed a good rapport with VS which resulted in her learning to ‘deal with the person not the gender’.

VS enjoys study so Nick offered her the opportunity to undertake some of the online short courses available to participants on #Focus5. Initially she took her time to complete courses but the more she did, the more enthusiastic she became and the faster she completed them. VS has successfully completed more short courses than any other participant Nick has supported. VS has also been involved with volunteering with a children’s play group at her church. This led to VS and Nick exploring career routes into this type of work. As her A-level grades made Higher Education immediately viable, Nick helped her explore this in greater depth eventually helping her with the application process including the compilation of her personal statement. Alongside this, Nick was able to support her in developing strategies that worked for her in dealing with her anxiety regarding the various processes such as, travelling to view the university campus. VS has received unconditional offers from all the universities she applied to and has decided to undertake BA(Hons) Early Childhood Studies at university, starting this September.

We asked VS about her experience on #Focus5 and are so pleased with her responses.

“The best thing about #Focus5 was the support it gave me. I have been able to be more confident in myself and Nick has helped me discover ways of handling my anxiety when I am out in public. Nick also helped me realise the strengths I have that will be useful for work. Nick was very caring and didn't push me too far. If I didn't want to do something he didn't force me to do it but he pushed a little with somethings that he knew would help me. 

Working with Nick has been extremely helpful. During my time on the #Focus5 project I was able to gain the confidence to make a 4-hour journey to meet my father for the first time in 15 years. I did this trip with my boyfriend and it was the first time we had been away from home together. I was able to organise the trip by myself and Nick supported me by being available to talk through any problems. I wouldn't have been able to do this trip without the help and support of Nick.

I have learnt a lot of useful things throughout my time on the #Focus5 project. I have completed 17 short courses with them which have helped me gain valuable skills for future employment. Nick has taught me how to do a CV and he helped me to understand the interview process better. He has also given me some useful tips on what to do to give myself the best opportunity to get through an interview. During my time on #Focus5 I have been able to learn more about myself too.

I would definitely recommend #Focus5. Anyone that has a chance to do #Focus5 should do it. The project has been a great help for me and is very beneficial. I wouldn't be in the position I am now without the support of my key worker Nick. I am very grateful to him.

I feel more prepared for university thanks to the help of #Focus5. I was very nervous about the option of university but after the support I received from Nick I feel more confident about going to university. Nick helped me look at the different universities and helped me find a course that I wanted to do. Nick also helped me with my UCAS application and my personal statement. He made suggestions on what to add to my personal statement and helped me make sure I didn't add any unnecessary details. I am very excited to start in September at my dream university. I'm looking forward to the future. 

#Focus5 has been amazing. I greatly appreciate everyone involved in the project. A massive thank you to my key worker Nick who has gone above and beyond in supporting me. He has done more than he needs and is required of him. Thank you all so much. Keep doing what you do because it is very helpful to the young people being supported.”

We are so proud of VS. Please join us in congratulating her on not only her university offers but also with her strength to overcome her barriers. We wish her every success at her dream university.