A new college year means only one thing here at DCF towers, as Hannya in the office would call it, ‘bursary life’ is in full flow! The phone is ringing off the hook, questions about how we can help students are flying in and from time to time parents are also popping in – just to have a chat and explain their circumstances, seeing if we can help.
For the last five years we have been gifting bursaries to support vocational education for those who need a little extra, a helping hand to get them to college. Very often our support ‘tops up’ what a local college is already offering via Government funding. Commonly, we pay for kit, such as essential laptops and importantly, travel.
We help those wanting to go to our five regional colleges, Kingston Mauward, Weymouth, Yeovil, Salisbury, Brockenhurst and Bournemouth and Poole. If you know Dorset well, you’ll know that getting from A to B here can be a challenge and frankly far too expensive.
Over the years we managed to fund some inspirational young people, like Nathan, who after our funding managed to stride confidently on to Emmanuel College Cambridge, studying maths – an amazing achievement. Nathan’s mum keeps telling us how important our funding was to them at that important crossroads in his life.
Last year we had a young woman from North Dorset, from a single parent family whose mother also cared for her autistic brother. The student was struggling with the cost of transport to and from Wiltshire College (Salisbury) where she was studying Art & Design. It was uncertain she would continue her course. We were delighted to step in and get her to college where she is now thriving. We were over the moon to hear that she is planning to go onto University and despite the challenges has also re-taken and passed her Maths GCSE. This story and the many, many other examples are exactly why we have the Bursary Fund.
Just a few weeks after opening our current grant-making round, dozens of applications from young people in similar circumstances have been flying in. This feels like this is going to be our busiest year and I don’t mind telling you that I am a little worried that we will be oversubscribed, and we will have to turn away perfectly worthy applications.
Moving away from personal stories to the stark data and (forgive me) stats – our recent Hidden Dorset report revealed that young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, right on our doorstep, lack that fair chance in life. Over 40% of care leavers are not in education, employment or training and worryingly 20 areas in Dorset are in the worst 10% for education deprivation in the UK. Weymouth and Portland rank bottom for social mobility across the whole of England. This is not good enough and DCF is committed to addressing this, making waves wherever we can.
We originally kicked off our Bursary scheme thanks to a wonderful legacy from a Dorset-born former teacher and the transfer of some historic charitable funds, from the old Dorset County Council. In addition to this, we were able to extend the bursaries to include STEM subjects thanks to super local engineering firm Superior who have their own fund with us.
The programme is growing so fast and we now need others to come to the table and help us enable even more young people to get a foot on the ladder, get a trade and lift themselves out of disadvantage.
Our Dorset kids, dealt a difficult hand, deserve help to make the best of their future – we can only provide this with the support of others, and that’s where you come in……
If you are connected to a charitable trust, a company or you are an individual interested in supporting local young people in education please get in touch direct at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 01202 670815.