Louisa - supported by UWE Cares

Studied: Fine Art

Louisa (not her real name) is an estranged student at UWE Bristol. Below, she explains what it was like for her growing up and how UWE Cares helped her in her transition to university life.

My dad left, and my mum had bipolar tendencies

“My life did not really begin until I started college. I never got on with my mum when I lived at home and my dad left when I was six months’ old. My mum and I would argue and there was no-one I could go to for help.

"My mum had bipolar tendencies. One minute she would be totally fine, having a laugh, the next, she'd be chasing me screaming, throwing things, and I’d find myself trapped inside my room with my bed against my door, hoping she wouldn't find a way in. I was constantly sorting out my bedroom, throwing away clutter, so that I could move out with ease when I was given the opportunity to.

I moved into a young person's hostel

"I spoke to someone at college in student services and found out that there was a young person’s hostel I could move into. I was accepted almost instantly and I finally found hope. Moving out was extremely difficult. Of course I loved my mum and we had had some amazing memories together, but it came to a point where the bad times were extremely outweighing the good and my studies were really starting to reflect this. I decided to go it alone and become estranged.

"The hostel was a safe haven and a true stepping stone. It was difficult with no money and no comforts, no internet, no television, and I lived off food donations and Jobseeker's Allowance. The hostel gave me independence and showed me that there were so many other people in the same position as me. Finally I had a family that were supportive and I didn’t feel alone.

I realised fine art was my calling

"I managed to save enough money extracting a few pounds a week from my minuscule Jobseeker's Allowance, and rented a pop-up shop in my local town – the theme was mental health and eating disorders. After the amazing response, I realised that fine art was my personal calling, and I knew I couldn't give up.

"I wrote my personal statement for university completely solo, without any help from family, an institution or tutor. I was accepted into UWE Bristol, my first choice, and was so happy.

"I was always extremely worried about how I would survive at university, coming from a bank account with £0, and no-one to back me up financially or emotionally. The UWE Cares service was like the parents I never had. They helped with anything I needed for my course and there was always a friendly face I could go to who would listen and help.

UWE Cares gave me hope

"The UWE Cares service gave me hope: they were my electric blanket in the cold, dark times. They gave me information about counselling, budget planning and helped me meet other students in similar positions to myself.

"I think it is so important that anyone, from any background, can feel they can come to university to better themselves. UWE Cares are here to help and if you don’t have family to support you, get in touch with them.

Studying Fine Art at UWE Bristol has given me more confidence than I ever imagined possible. I am a completely different person now. If you are reading this, in a similar position to me, and you are passionate about a subject – come to university. You may feel you can't, but you can. Talk to someone, take their help and allow these new changes for the better to come into your life. Don't give up.”

Support from UWE Cares

Find out about the UWE Cares package of support and how we can support carers, care leavers and estranged students.

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