STAY service enters fourth year of providing support for learners
Care-experienced learners will receive additional support at Glasgow colleges for a fourth year, thanks to Action for Children's STAY service.
Since launching in 2019 with Glasgow Colleges' Regional Board and West College Scotland, the STAY service has expanded significantly. Over 800 vulnerable, care-experienced or estranged students in the Glasgow college region have received additional support to help them fulfil their potential while studying at City of Glasgow College, Glasgow Clyde College and Glasgow Kelvin College.
19-year-old Nikita Kozminykh left school at the age of 15 and returned to education earlier this year to study a business course at City of Glasgow College. Speaking of the support he received from the STAY team, Nikita said: "It's much better than I ever thought. My support worker, Gillian, has helped me look for work and speaks to student advisors on my behalf. We have chats about life and she helps me feel better about situations. I plan to study a HNC or HND then to progress to university. I want to keep studying and to get as much out of education as possible."
Sarah Carney, 19, studied Glasgow Clyde College's Fast Track into Futures course. Speaking of the STAY service, Sarah said: "I know that if I ever need someone to talk to, I have a place that I can go. It’s definitely made a difference. It’s more help than I’ve had before within education and makes me feel like I’ve been heard and that my issues have been listened to. College has helped me see what my opportunities are."
STAY mentors worked throughout the summer period with around 120 pupils to support the transition from school to starting college courses in August and a further 50 continuing students in Glasgow.
Hazel Kelly, STAY transition mentor at Glasgow Kelvin College, explained: "The transition from school to college can be daunting for young learners, particularly those from more vulnerable backgrounds who may not have support in place from family members. My role involved helping to make these pupils feel supported with the transition so when they start their studies, they feel as comfortable and confident as possible in the new environment. I take them on trial bus runs and am involved in campus tours, as well as continuing to support them while they're at college if they have any issues, either within college or outside the college gates."
The partnership team now also works with Glasgow City Council's Towards Better Futures campaign, as well as The Robertson Trust, who fund, support and champion those seeking solutions to poverty and trauma. The service has also expanded to Edinburgh College, with support staff joining the college in April 2022.
Marlyn Davidson has been with the STAY service since its inception and is the practice team leader, managing support staff across the Glasgow colleges.
Marlyn explained: "Working alongside the partners in the college, the support we provide is absolutely crucial. The support goes beyond the college walls as we help students with mental wellness, financial support, housing and more. We do everything we can to ensure young people get their fair chance to sustain their place at college.
"We couldn't have done this without the support from Glasgow Colleges' Regional Board and the colleges. It's a privilege to be part of this service and to work closely with our partners. Together, we're making a real difference."
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon met the first care-experienced students to benefit from the service in 2020 at Glasgow Kelvin College to show her support for the 'vital' initiative.
Martin Boyle, Executive Director at Glasgow Colleges' Regional Board, added: "The Glasgow college region is committed to working collaboratively for the benefit of our students and to ensuring that vulnerable learners, in particular, have support in place to enable them to progress at college and beyond.
"The STAY service has proved to be a very successful initiative, thanks to the dedication of the support workers, staff from across the colleges and our partners. We look forward to continuing to work with the team and to the service developing in future for our learners."
Read more about how the service has developed since launching and the support in place for Glasgow's learners.