19 May 2021
Kirsty Young, a Learning Support Advisor at Certa Access Provider East Riding College, is currently raising funds for the Helena Kennedy Foundation, the further education sector’s national charity.
The Foundation provides bursaries to support disadvantaged students as they progress through higher education, and Kirsty is walking for two hours for 50 evenings in a row to raise money towards a bursary for a student.
Kirsty’s initial fundraising target was £500, but she quickly exceeded this and set a second target of £2,000, which has also been met. She is now hoping to reach £2,250, the total amount that is donated to bursary winners.
Kirsty has a personal motivation for supporting the charity, as she herself won a bursary in 2010. This helped her to continue on a journey of improving her life through education – a journey that began when she was a student at East Riding College.
As a teenager, Kirsty suffered grooming and abuse from an older man whom she met through work experience. She was isolated from her family for several years and had severe mental health issues. After this man abandoned her with three children and left her facing homelessness, a local vicar helped her return her to her family.
In order to boost her self-esteem, Kirsty decided to go to East Riding College. She enrolled on a Level 1 Health and Social Care course and worked her way up, completing the Level 3 National Diploma in Health and Social Care.
The tutors at the college believed Kirsty was capable of progressing to university, but she lacked confidence in herself. However, the college’s guidance officer who had supported her throughout her time at college persuaded her to apply to the University of Hull. It was at this point that Kirsty first learnt about the support available through the Helena Kennedy Foundation.
Winning the bursary in 2010 was crucial for Kirsty’s success at university. It enabled her to pay for a laptop, internet connection and textbooks, along with childcare and travel costs. The Foundation was also a regular point of contact throughout her degree, providing pastoral support when needed.
Kirsty now works at the college as a Learning Support Advisor, inspiring and encouraging learners of all ages and backgrounds to reach their potential, as the college staff once did for her.
She wanted to give something back to the Foundation, and therefore came up with her fundraising idea. She has received huge support, not only from individuals, but also from local businesses who have helped her to reach her fundraising goals by raffling items or by donating to her to raffle.
Kirsty said: “I want to inspire and encourage learners of all ages to reach their potential, especially those who have significant challenges such as living in care, being single parents, or having learning needs. I think being a Learning Support Advisor is a really important role and I love seeing the learners achieve.
“I can honestly say that the Helena Kennedy Foundation changed my life. After being told I would never achieve anything throughout my life, they genuinely believed in me and their package of support was vital to my success in education. I am eternally grateful to them.
“I am now in a position to start a PGCE in September and hope to teach in further education. In the long term, my education improved my life and meant I am able to provide for my family.”
Kirsty has now completed most of her 50 walks, and is set to finish the challenge on 25 May. Could you help her to reach the £2,250 target? If you would like to support her, visit her giving page here. You can also follow her walking journey on her blog.
You can find out more about the Helena Kennedy Foundation here. Applications for their bursaries are open until 28 May.
East Riding College is a Certa Access Provider, delivering Access to HE Diplomas. To browse their Access courses, click here.
If your organisation would like to become a Provider and make a difference to the lives of adult learners, click here to find out more.