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UCO graduate is Care Leaver Awards 2023 finalist

Paige Tildsley, a recent University Campus Oldham graduate, was a finalist at the Greater Manchester Care Leavers Awards 2023.

These awards, which took place at the Royal Northern College of Music, celebrate the achievements of care leavers across Greater Manchester.

Paige was joined by Laura Macmillan, Head of Student Support and Wellbeing at University Campus Oldham, and Alan Benvie, Vice Principal – Student Experience and Inclusion at Oldham College.

She was nominated for an award in the Higher Education category, for her achievements throughout completing a BA (Hons) Children and Young People as a care leaver. This included undertaking original research on the outcomes of care experienced young people in Greater Manchester, and ‘the politics of the postcode lottery that care leavers experience’.

“It felt great to be a finalist,” says Paige. “I wasn’t expecting to be nominated for the higher education award, as coming to University Campus Oldham was something I wanted to do for myself and saw as a personal achievement.”

Paige has previously attended these awards: in 2018, she won the Activism award for a range of achievements. This includes her work delivering Total Respect training within Oldham – which she has now done for 8 years, helping Oldham Council to set plans in motion for free prescription charges for care leavers, and helping with the pilot for NAAS training for social workers in Oldham, part of the Department for Education (DfE).

“I loved being at an event where everyone is the same, and we’re all celebrating achievement, which stereotypically would not always come to mind when you think of care leavers. It was great to see that we are a community in our own right, striving for better futures.”

Paige was inspired to study BA (Hons) Children and Young People by her existing knowledge surrounding the relevant laws and legislation.

“The course came with challenges, including my conflicting opinions about some of the theories we learned about, based on my personal experience.

“I did enjoy having discussions within sessions, and giving my classmates a true insight into what the care system is like for young people.”

As a professional, Paige is mindful of how young people feel when working with them. “I’m now a support worker, working with care leavers aged 16-18 in supported living accommodation. I absolutely love this job, and it’s rewarding to see changes being made daily.

“One day, I would love to run my own training program and work with authorities to support young people – so that everyone can have a voice, and help to hopefully change systems for the better.”

Paige’s advice to other care leavers considering higher education is, if a degree is going to help you progress and enable you to have the future you’ve dreamed of, “go for it! Dreams aren’t always easy, but at the end of the hard work, stress and worry, graduating will make it all worthwhile.”

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