These are some of the faces of people who are taking the next steps in their education, thanks to financial support from Wheatley Group.
Wheatley, Scotland’s leading housing, property management and care organisation has given bursaries to 80 people in its communities across Scotland to support their dreams of studying at college and university, including in Dumfries and Galloway.
DGHP customer, Erin Kennedy, received one of the bursaries, worth up to £1500 for full-time students and £750 for part-time studies, and cover HNC, HND, Undergraduate Degree and Postgraduate courses.
Since 2017, Wheatley have made 230 awards to help people go on to study at college and university through their charitable trust, the Wheatley Foundation.
This year, the Foundation made an extra 30 awards, bringing the total of people helped up to 80, and thanks to the support, recipients are going on to train in professions as diverse as physiotherapy, teaching, care work and physiotherapy.
Wheatley Foundation Chair, Sir Harry Burns said: “Education is a vital tool in building a more equal society, helping people to achieve their aspirations and break the cycle of poverty.
“Too many people still face unfair barriers in achieving what they are capable of, so initiatives like Wheatley’s bursary programme make a huge difference.
“I am delighted that hundreds of people have already been helped to reach college and university through this ground-breaking programme, and I look forward to hearing what this year’s recipients go on to achieve”.
The bursaries, supported by the Wheatley Foundation, are available to people living in homes owned by one of Wheatley’s social landlords – GHA, DGHP, Dunedin Canmore, Cube, West Lothian Housing Partnership, Loretto Housing and Barony – and people who live in a home factored by YourPlace Property Management or renting with Lowther Homes.
Erin Kennedy, a DGHP customer from Annan, is now pursuing her dream of becoming a primary school teacher.
She didn’t get into university after leaving school, and gave birth to her daughter, Lily, when she was 19.
Now, ten years later, she is finally ready to pursue her own ambition and do what she always wanted to.
She said: “When you have children, you put yourself on the backburner. I took a leap last year and thought “why not go for it?”
“I always wondered if I could actually afford to go back and study. This came along and I applied. I was just so excited when I found out. It was like magic.
“I know the course is a lot of work so I needed to reduce my hours. This has made me more financially comfortable and gives me a bit of breathing space and peace of mind.
“Teaching is something I always wanted to do. I was scared I couldn’t afford it.
“Lily is ten now. We do our homework together like a little homework club. She is very proud and can see I am happier. I think when you are happy you are a better mum.”
Wheatley Foundation Director, Lorraine McLaren said: “It is fantastic to see people in Wheatley communities across Scotland take a step closer to achieving their dreams.
“Education is one of the Wheatley Foundation’s Big Five – and our support has already helped hundreds of people gain qualifications, increase their skills and help them land their dream job.
“I wish every one of our latest bursary recipients every success in the next stage of their journeys.”