My name is Carly Telford. I’m eighteen years old and I’m the Ambassador for the Corporate Parenting team with Who Cares? Scotland. It has been a couple of months since I first started with Who Cares? and so far, I’ve experienced lots of amazing and exciting things.
In our team, we train all twenty-four corporate parents across the country. Because of this my job is never the same day to day and is completely action packed. Most recently, I have taken part in sessions with the Further and Higher Education Minister and City of Glasgow college, both of which proved to be valuable opportunities for me to represent care experienced young people, and to help corporate parents understand what the reality is like for care experienced people.
Shirley-Anne Somerville is the Scottish Minister for Further and Higher Education. All Scottish Ministers are corporate parents, so this session was a really important one for me in my role. Three Ambassadors including myself met with the minister to discuss the introduction of a non-repayable bursary for care experienced students. The bursary is fantastic, and a yearly sum of £7,625 will really make a substantial financial difference to the lives of people in care, and care leavers, who want to succeed academically but may not have the money to afford typical student stuff like rent, bills, books and travel.
I explained that small decisions by corporate parents can hugely impact people’s lives, specifically in the education sector. The principal was so moved by my story that they recognised they had made a mistake and gave me an interview for a real place on the course! I went to the interview and earned my place. Never forget the power of your voice, even when you feel disheartened.
I will be starting an HND qualification in Legal Services this September. As someone who is just beginning their journey into further education, I myself will leave college and university with no student debt which is a huge relief. The average age to leave care age is 18 years old. People my age, people who are at the very beginning of their educational journey, like I am. This bursary offers support to care experienced people who desperately need it, and helps them to prepare for adult life.
However, I wouldn’t even be starting college this year if I hadn’t been at the recent City of Glasgow College corporate parenting training session. I previously delivered an input to the City of Glasgow board, and felt really motivated to apply because I thought they were a good corporate parent. The application process took a while and I eventually received news that I wouldn’t be on the course, but instead on a reserve list. I was heartbroken and questioned the purpose of my Ambassador role. A few weeks later the opportunity came up to deliver training to the City of Glasgow College’s senior management team. I explained that small decisions by corporate parents can hugely impact people’s lives, specifically in the education sector. The principal was so moved by my story that they recognised they had made a mistake and gave me an interview for a real place on the course! I went to the interview and earned my place. Never forget the power of your voice, even when you feel disheartened.
In what seems like such a short and fleeting period, I have achieved and experienced so much! I’ve engaged with a vast range of influential figures from the Further and Higher Education Minister, the principals of many prestigious colleges and universities to the most important of corporate parents the First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon. Who’s next? Obama?
From left to right: My manager Kevin, Callum Lynch, Natasha McAllister, Shirley-Anne Somerville and me!