Guest Post – Ashley Cameron on being a Care Leaver Ambassador

Across this week we will be publishing a series of posts to highlight the topic of care experienced students.

Helen Canning, Director of Student Services, kicked off the week by writing about how the College is supporting care experienced young people, after signing the Pledge to Listenand undergoing Corporate Parenting training delivered by Who Cares? Scotland.

Yesterday, Who Cares? Scotland’s Corporate Parenting Officer, Robert Foster, blogged about his role in working with colleges and universities to improve the outcomes of care experienced young people.

Today we are delighted to welcome Ashley Cameron to the blog.

Ashley is a care leaver who works with Who Cares? Scotland in an ambassadorial role. Ashley visited the College with Robert for the Corporate Parenting Training and spoke openly about her journey.

Robert Foster

I am very proud of Ayrshire College – the first post-16 education body to receive Corporate Parenting training in Scotland. Just four short years ago there was no mention or discussion of care experienced students in Scotland or how we support them in our colleges and universities.

The fact that Ayrshire College has taken the Who Cares? Scotland Pledge, to listen to the voices and experiences of care experienced young people, emphasises their commitment to supporting care experienced young people both in the college and in the community.

It is important now that colleges and universities across Scotland discuss the care identity and promote this as a positive when involving care experienced students.

I used to be ashamed of the fact that I come from a care background, that it was my fault that I ended up in care. The truth of the matter is that I was taken into care through no fault of my own but rather through the fact that my birth parents were not in a position to care for me. It is important then that colleges and universities know this and convey this view to any prospective care experienced students as well as in the wider community.

Our care identity isn’t the only part of our identity, but how can we ever hope to understand it, to move on and achieve our aspirations in life, if society holds this negative view that we are all “bad kids” and trouble makers. You only have to look at students like Amy-Beth Miah at Ayrshire College to know that she is an inspiration to other young people and someone who does not let stigma or negativity stop her from achieving her dreams.

It is important then that young people with experience of care are supported in a way that they don’t feel judged or stigmatised for identifying themselves.

When growing up in foster care, I was repeatedly told I would never get to university no matter how much I wanted it – “Kids like you don’t get to go to university.”

From being bullied by classmates and being treated differently at school by teachers as a kid, to having employers talk about me behind my back as a young adult: “What did you employ her for? She’s a care kid, she will never last.”

Let’s not talk about our care experienced young people in this way. We have the same potential and dreams as every other young person in life. Support us to get into education and then to stay there until we have succeeded.

That’s why I am proud of Ayrshire College. They have turned “these young people can’t” into “these young people CAN and with our support they can achieve their educational aspirations!”

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