A CARE experienced student has thanked Ayrshire College for being a massive support during difficult times in her life, and has backed herself to go on to make a big impact on the lives of other care leavers.
Amy-Beth Miah, 20 from Kilmarnock, praised Ayrshire College for being her “safety net” throughout a tumultuous time, involving drink and drugs, as a teenager.
Last month, Ayrshire College signed a pledge to support young people brought up in care after becoming the first college in Scotland to receive corporate parenting training delivered by the Who Cares? Scotland charity.
However, Amy-Beth has been coming to the college for years; starting on a part-time timetable where she split her time between St. Joseph’s Academy and Ayrshire College.
She then started a course in the HIVE (Hope, Inspiration and Vision in Education) – a bespoke learning space at Ayrshire College which offers a range of access programmes for young people between the ages of 15 and 24 years.
The courses are designed to prepare young people who have challenges in their lives and who may previously have had negative experiences of education for a range of different reasons for further college courses and employment.
Amy-Beth is now thriving on an HNC Social Sciences course at the College and has ambitions to study at The Open University once she has completed her HND.
She dreams of being able to offer effective support to other care leavers once she graduates.
Currently, Amy-Beth is launching a care experienced support group for any students who have experienced care. The first session takes place at the Kilwinning campus on January 28 and they hope to continue to meet once per month.
She said: “Being a care leaver, I’ve noticed there are a lot of people who have left care that end up far too institutionalised. They go from being in care to being in secure units and often end up in jail. I know people who have come out of jail and re-offended deliberately to get back inside, because they have nothing out here. They don’t know how to pay a bill, or how to fill out an application form.
“I want to change that; an ambition that stems from my own experiences.
“I left school with nothing. I was leaving the care system and was in a bad way. Yet, any time I had a breakdown, the college would help me out. College was always my pick-me-up – any time I fell down they’d be there to catch me and help me back up. Not only have they helped me decide what I want to do with my life, they’ve given me the driving force to make it a reality.”
One person in particular who has had a tremendous effect on Amy-Beth’s student journey is Bobby McCorriston, the employability and engagement officer who delivers the Kilmarnock Prince’s Trust team. Amy-Beth has described him in glowing terms for the support he has provided.
She said: “He really is my hero. He’s been a huge help to me. Even though I had all of my outside life going on, he didn’t turn his back on me. His attitude was never a case of ‘you can’t’, but rather ‘you can – and here’s how’.”
Meanwhile, a new-found love of politics formed over the Scottish independence referendum debate has resulted in Amy-Beth becoming the LGBT+ students’ officer for the Ayrshire College Student Association.
Amy-Beth balances her studies with dedicating a few hours per week to the role.
She said: “I fell in love with politics. That’s why I’m involved in the Student Association.
“I was elected democratically in October and am the point of contact for every campus. If anyone would like to get in touch with me to discuss LGBT+ issues, they can contact me confidentially at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
The Ayrshire College Student Association has an LGBT+ support group at the Kilmarnock campus and will be launching groups in Ayr and Kilwinning imminently. Anyone interested can e-mail Amy-Beth for details.
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