All posts by Zoe Slater

Keara’s summer of a lifetime

Keara Sterling, an Excellence Scholarship winner, caught up with me recently after returning from an amazing summer of volunteering in Fiji and America, as well as visiting Australia. Prepare to be very jealous as she shares her adventures below!

“I was awarded an Excellence Scholarship (for volunteering) at the end of the second year of my BA (Hons) Physical Education and School Sport degree. My love of sport not only inspired me to study the subject at degree level but also inspired me to volunteer in industry. I thoroughly enjoy sharing my passion in sport and motivating others to get involved. For eight hours a week I coach trampolining with ‘Momentum Trampoline Club’ and ‘BEST Gymnastics’ to young people. Four hours of this is dedicated to teaching young people with disabilities.

Not only do I volunteer in the sporting field but for the last few years I have been heavily involved in volunteering in my local community, representing the voice of young people and breaking the barriers created by the media towards young people. One of the roles I did for three years was that of ‘Voice’. This is a local youth forum that would meet for five hours a week to plan and discuss local issues in the community and how we could overcome this. Along with this volunteering, I also volunteered with ‘YAK’ (Youth Action Council) and ‘S.H.A.G’ (Sexual Health Advisory Group).

My voluntary work has enabled me to travel worldwide and visit some amazing places. This summer I was lucky enough to travel not only to America and Australia but also to Fiji. It all started in 2012 when I was nominated to represent the United Kingdom on a project in Bremen, Germany. I went out to Germany for two weeks to volunteer at military heritage sites maintaining the graves from World Wars One and Two. This was an amazing opportunity as it involved people from all over Europe.

In 2014, I was selected to spend summer in Chicago, teaching football or ‘soccer’ as they call it. This was an amazing opportunity for me to develop my subject knowledge on how to deliver a range of engaging sessions to a variety of individuals, from advanced level to beginners. Each week I would be working with a new team/group of young people. This summer I completed a similar project with ‘Challenger’ based in Texas. After completing this project I traveled back to Chicago to meet up with some friends that I made from the previous summer.

After spending three months in Texas, I returned to the UK before flying out to Australia for a a holiday and then on the way back stopped off at Fiji to take part in a Voluntary Physical Education project for four weeks. Here, I worked supporting young people at Mana Island School. I thoroughly loved working with these children and learning new skills such as weaving and attending my first Kava ceremony!

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I am now back in my third and final year and have just found out that I have been accepted on to a PGCE course starting in September 2016 – I cannot wait! I just wonder if next summer will live up to the experiences of this summer – it was definitely a summer of a lifetime!”

Rebecca scores Sports Scholarship and aims to inspire others

Rebecca Foster is one of our most enthusiastic scholars who is constantly helping to promote the scholarships across the University. She has assisted at numerous events this year and I was delighted to open my emails this morning to find she has agreed to share her achievements on this blog!

A footballer with Preston North End Ladies, Rebecca is also a referee and dreams of becoming a Physical Education teacher in the future.

Phew, just talking about all that exercise has left me needing a lie down so, without too much further ado, I’ll hand you over to Rebecca whose love for the beautiful game and Edge Hill University is infectious!

“Hello everyone! My name is Rebecca and I am in my second year at Edge Hill University, studying BA (Hons) Physical Education and School Sport. I have enjoyed every moment of being at University and can see why we were recently awarded ‘THE University of the Year’ because we definitely deserve it!

I was awarded a Sports Scholarship for Prospective Students in 2013. My whole life focuses around football and has done for as long as I can remember. I currently play for Preston North End and we compete in the Northern Women’s Premier League. I am also honoured this year to be the Captain for the Edge Hill University football team. As well as playing, I also referee and I am currently up for promotion to advance in the refereeing levels. One day you will all hopefully be seeing me on Sky Sports and Match of the Day!

I started playing when I was 11 for my local team Cadishead JFC. We were the first girls’ team in our area. I played here until I was 15. During my time with Cadishead JFC, I won South Manchester’s player of the season for two years, which was voted by other team players and managers. I then moved to Altrincham Juniors where I played for 2 seasons before I started playing open age football. At the time this felt like it was a massive leap playing with all of the ‘big girls’.  I started open age football with Irlam Ladies FC and then moved to play with Manchester City Ladies. This was extremely exciting for me, training and playing at a high level and having the opportunity to travel all over the country. Playing at City made me into the player I am today as I had to massively adapt my game. I improved a lot technically and found myself playing in a defensive midfield role, unlike when I was playing in a striker’s position with my local teams, I had to get used to not scoring five a game!

In 2013, I left Manchester City just before they became a Women’s Super League team and went to Preston North End where I am now and absolutely love playing here. I am part of a great club which has fantastic coaching staff, backroom staff and players. Last season we finished 2nd in the league and won the County Cup, beating Blackburn in the final (had to get that bit in there!) This year we are still in two cup competitions, the FA Plate and the County cup, where we play Blackburn (again) in the Semi-final. Two of my friends who are both also Sports Scholars at Edge Hill play for Blackburn, so we have a lot of friendly rivalry!

Preston North End have recently become partners of the “Just a ball game” campaign, raising awareness for LGBT. “Just a ball” aims to raise understanding about equality and diversity, combat discrimination and homophobia in sport. We are all massively proud to be supporting this.

So, back to University. As I have already said I love studying here and after my three years I am hoping to progress on to a PGCE course at Edge Hill, getting me that one step closer to achieving my goal of becoming a Physical Education teacher. This will enable me to educate and inspire the next generation to love sport as much as I do!”

Michael walks in fields of gold thanks to scholarship

It’s always great to hear the stories of what our scholars have been up to and how receiving a scholarship has helped them.

An Excellence Scholarship for Prospective Students has made a big difference to Michael Scott-Abbott.

Michael has used his scholarship to fund the purchase of equipment to support both his studies and his passion for film and TV. One of the end results is a fantastic new music video to accompany a beautiful cover version of Fields of Gold. Michael will take you on the journey from receiving a scholarship to capturing a new take on a Sting classic in his own words!

“When I’m not studying for a BA (Hons) Film and Television Production degree, I’m working with multiple companies across the North West producing video content that ranges from advertisements, applications (for businesses to apply for grants/funding or get involved with programmes), to short films and music videos.

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Recently, I worked with a company that was commissioned by the National Lottery and Age Concern to produce five short films focusing on the war effort and how that has affected and is perceived from one generation to another. I’ve also spent a lot of time working with a company that is focused on bringing a fantastic range of education theatre, tailored directly for students, to schools across England. With this company I worked on a documentary regarding cyberbullying which was revised into a physical show and performed at the Tate Gallery in Liverpool throughout the summer which was absolutely fantastic (even if I am biased!).

Being awarded with this scholarship at the beginning of my studies, I was given the opportunity to invest in and push my creativity to levels that I wouldn’t have been able to beforehand. I was given the chance to purchase equipment that has proved crucial to my work, both as part of my degree and outside of my studies: equipment that made me available to collaborate and seek out other creative partners. I’ve been extremely lucky because of it and feel it has really helped to enrich my University experience. One of my first projects using the new equipment was just over a year and half ago, filming and producing a music video, with gaining over 1,000 views!

Here’s a couple of photos from the day itself. It was a great day!

As for plans following University, I was lucky enough to attain a graduate job after my tutor, Elke Weissmann, recommended myself and a small number of students to apply for the position. Attending multiple assessments and interviews, I still can’t believe that I was chosen as a Junior Film Production Executive for a firm based in Preston and London.”

Scholarship enables Jenny to fulfil her American dream

It is great seeing our students on campus, it was only the other day that I bumped in to one of our scholarship winners, Jenny Howell, who was recognised for her achievements in creative arts with an Excellence Scholarship for Prospective Students in 2012.

I often bump into Jenny on campus as she is heavily involved in University life as a student guide, student assistant and student mentor! When Jenny is not working in one of these roles, she is busy working on assignments as she is now in her final year of a BA (Hons) English and History degree.

With the 2014 Scholarship Awards Evening having just taken place, and with a little help from Timehop, Jenny was keen to reminisce about her own presentation night and reflect on how receiving a scholarship has helped her fund two trips to Camp America to share her passion for poetry with others (with a bit of sightseeing thrown in for good measure!).

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“So, a few days ago a picture of me and my awards ceremony in 2012 popped up on my Timehop. I can’t believe it’s been just over two years since I went to the Scholarship ceremony and received my scholarship! I was awarded the Excellence Scholarship for my creative writing. I don’t study creative writing, it’s something I do as a hobby. I write poetry, songs and short stories, two of my poems have actually been published! I remember when my first one got published and my mum was reading the letter over my shoulder she started calling everyone shouting, “My daughter, the PUBLISHED poet!” Ever since I was little, I’ve wanted to be a writer and being published and receiving this Scholarship for it just reinforces my passion.

Applying for the Scholarship wasn’t easy but I worked really hard for it and I’m so happy I did! I had to write a personal statement (because who doesn’t love that?!) and I had to scan in a selection of my stories and poems to prove my ‘excellence’. Two of my tutors at college helped me with it and I even emailed them a photo of my certificate. My parents and grandparents came to the Scholarship Awards Evening; it was amazing. Other than the certificate, engraved pens and the cheque itself, there was free food (every student’s dream!). The ceremony was like a mini graduation ceremony, I even shook hands with the University’s Chancellor, Tanya Byron, who presented me with the certificate.

The scholarship has given me inspiration to travel to places I didn’t think I would ever get the chance to go to before! Through the money received from my scholarship, I’ve been to America twice as part of the Camp America programme based in Camo Wa-Klo.

Whilst there, apart from writing a lot of poems, I even taught a creative writing workshop with young children aged 6-15. Many of the children had never written a poem before but they were actually really talented at it. I was so proud of inspiring others to try something that I love so much! One of the campers even wrote a poem about me which (not being biased) I think is a beautiful poem!

After completing the camp in 2014, I was lucky enough to travel and see some amazing places in the America including New York, Washington DC, Niagara Falls and Philadelphia.

The scholarship has helped me achieve so much and it will continue to help me. It’s one of my best achievements and I can’t wait to see what else it will bring for me!”

Heptathlete Danielle on her marks for Team GB glory

Edge Hill student and heptathlete Danielle McGifford is biting at the heels of Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Jessica Ennis-Hill as she progresses in her sport. Danielle’s achievements have recently been recognised with the award of a Sports Scholarship for Current Students at Gold level. I caught up with Danielle to discover how she balances training for a gruelling seven events with her studies and to find out more about her experiences competing for Team GB and being selected for Olympic trials.

“I compete in the heptathlon. The easiest way to describe what I do is it’s what Jessica Ennis-Hill is famous for! Seven events over two days, including running, jumping and throwing events. I am a member of Wigan Harriers and the majority of my training is based at Robin Park. Currently I am studying BA (Hons) Physical Education and School Sport, when I’m not at University nine times out of ten I’m training! With eight sessions scheduled over six days I am always kept mad busy but I guess that’s what you get for trying to take up seven events! I am not going to lie; University work is hard to juggle with this lifestyle but I use my time wisely and study whenever I get time and I have just passed my second year with an overall first which I am more than pleased with! I initially started out as a hurdler and a long jumper, where I won the English Schools title in the long jump in 2010. I then decided to take on the challenge of the Heptathlon and made a breakthrough in 2012, where I was ranked 4th in the UK in my age group.

 

Throughout my time competing in this discipline, I have claimed English Schools titles, National titles, BUCS titles, Northern titles, County titles and records. I have competed for Merseyside, England schools, England and Great Britain Juniors and this year the Great Britain Senior European Cup team. This was an incredible experience and one that will stay with me forever. I was only made aware that I was going to fly to Poland two days before as another contestant had to withdraw which them gave me a place in the senior team. Despite having a tough year with injuries, I had to give it a go, and I am glad I did. It is something that I will never forget as I was competing with the best heptathletes in Europe.

Despite what would seem like a good year, competing with the Senior European team, I didn’t manage to tick something off my list that I had been working towards for nearly three years which was to gain selection for the World Junior team. I was involved in a car accident earlier in the year which left me with back, neck and hip problems. I had to cut my season short, preventing me from having my chance to get the score needed to be selected. This was a kick in the teeth and something that was hard to deal with but these experiences make you stronger. Since then I have been working tirelessly on exercises and rehab to get back to my best, hoping to be able to push myself even further to get a shot at making the Senior teams once again.

Probably my greatest achievement to date would have to be being selected to compete in the Olympic trials in Birmingham for the 100m hurdles, in 2012 competing alongside world class athletes including the reigning Olympic champion Jessica Ennis – it was insane! This has definitely affirmed my desire to push myself in this field. Therefore, looking forward to my future development I would love to be able to make my mark on the Great Britain Team in Olympics, World and European Championships and ultimately begin to push towards senior medals.”

Maegan makes a difference in Ukraine

With our new scholars well and truly settled into University life, I am still learning about each and every one of them. Their achievements and experiences are amazing.

Maegan Cleary, the recipient of an Excellence Scholarship for Prospective Students in recognition of her dedication to volunteering, is five months into a BA (Hons) Children and Young People’s Learning and Development (Primary) degree. Maegan’s account of her volunteering at an orphanage in Ukraine is something I have found both heart-warming and fascinating. Enjoy!

“I have always had a passion for volunteering. I enjoy helping people in need and always appreciate help I receive so I became involved with a couple of projects involving the local community. My volunteering journey began doing things such as helping at a youth club on Friday nights, operating visuals at Sunday morning church services, participating in fundraising events and also volunteering to teach local junior dance classes. I felt fulfilled to help and make people happy, through these I made a large amount of friends, who have all been and continue to be a good influence on my life and an amazing support network.

From volunteering with the church, I decided to join a group called MAD (Make a Difference) where I was a part of a ‘mission’ to literally make a difference to children’s lives. I was given a great opportunity with this charity to travel to Ukraine to help at an orphanage. We travelled around 23 hours to reach the orphanage which was falling to pieces. It was hard to see this, the stories of where the children came from were horrendous, as some of them were runaways, drug takers or simply not wanted anymore. It’s an experience I will never forget.

Maegan Cleary

We did our best to treat the children to things they have never experienced, such as ice skating and going to the local theme park. What shocked me the most was experiencing their first visit to McDonalds – something so simple as fast food which we take for granted is a luxury to these children. Whilst all of these trips were taking place, the adults of the group took the opportunity to surprise the children and orphan leaders by refurbishing the dining hall and entertainment room at the orphanage, removing all of the old unsafe areas and painting and decorating the rooms to become more child friendly.

This work was not unveiled until the last day, however this was not the only surprise in store as all of the participants on the trip had given up their luggage space when flying out for toys, clothes, soaps and lots more. I will never forget the shock and surprise of all the children and staff on the last day, ever so grateful and appreciative for what we had done. I feel I have made a real impact on these children’s lives as well as having made some great friends. I have recently heard some amazing stories from the leaders of some of the children returning to loved ones and becoming adopted.

This was such an exhilarating experience and has really put things into perspective to never take things for granted. So, in 2014 I applied and was accepted into Edge Hill University, where I also applied for a Scholarship in Volunteering, which I was ecstatic in finding out I had been chosen to receive. I am going to use the funds to travel back to the Ukraine, to help the children after the disasters there over the last twelve months.”

Scholarship is icing on the cake for nutrition blogger Val

Third year student Valerie Hutson has been posting for just over a year on her nutrition-themed blog, Nutritionval.com. Writing about the scholarship she received therefore came pretty easily to Val!

Using her scholarship funding to attend a three-day event in London, Val shares her enthusiasm for blogging, all things nutritional and the exciting opportunities that receiving her award has enabled her to pursue.

“I started my BSc (Hons) Nutrition and Health degree in 2012. During my second year, I decided to start a blog about my studies to collect my thoughts and share my passion for the subject. I set up Nutritionval.com in the Christmas holidays 2013 and I’ve been blogging ever since.

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For the first month or so, the blog didn’t get many visitors but I persevered with it and a year later I’ve published 86 posts and had over 3,880 views from 81 countries.

I’m always looking for something interesting to write about and am fascinated with the link between diet, health and disease. I love the process of researching developments in the field and sharing them with my followers. I enjoy attending nutrition events, as there is always something new to discover. After each event, I take some time to reflect about the key learning points and then blog about it.

When a Scholarships Ambassador came to one of our lectures, I found out about the Excellence Scholarships for Current Students which reward excellence in a variety of areas, including ICT and enterprise. I’m so glad I took the time to fill out the application form and I was delighted when Zoe, the Scholarships Administrator, called to say I’d been successful.

With my scholarship funding, I attended the ‘Food Matters Live’ Conference in London, a new three-day event accredited by the Association for Nutrition focusing on the relationship between food, health and nutrition. There were lots of lectures, seminars and an exhibition. I even got the opportunity to ask my dissertation question to a distinguished panel including Dr Susan Jebb (Professor of Diet and Population Health in the Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford), Dr David Haslam (Head of the National Obesity Forum) and Dr Angela Donkin (Institute of Health Equity, UCL).

Food Matters Live

I was also able to fund a place at the ‘Nutrition Society Winter Meeting’, again in London, focusing on nutrition and age-related muscle loss, sarcopenia and cachexia. I met loads of interesting people there, including some I follow on Twitter! I really do appreciate the Scholarship Award as I wouldn’t have been able to attend without it.

Developing my blog has helped improve my IT skills and to build on what I’ve learned about social media. I am now volunteering with the Skelmersdale Community Food initiative to help review the contents of their website.

Setting up a blog is relatively easy, even for a mature student! I use a WordPress blog that is ‘mapped’ to my own domain name. The hard part is finding the time to keep it going but I think blogging about your degree subject can really enhance your studies and help support the learning process.

I would encourage other students to take some time out to apply for one of the many scholarships. Meeting the other scholars, and being presented with my award by Edge Hill’s Chancellor Professor Tanya Byron at December’s awards evening was definitely the greek yogurt frosting on the skinny carrot cake!”

Jordan’s scholarship helps to make every second count

Last week we introduced you to one of our new Sports Scholarship winners for academic year 2014/15. This week, one of our class of 2013/14 has been in touch to update us on how his first year has been and how receiving an Excellence Scholarship for Prospective Students has helped him in unforeseen ways. Meet Jordan Rollins, a Year 2 student on our BA (Hons) Advertising degree.

“I have always had a keen interest in advertising. The power and influence of the advertising industry fascinates me. I therefore selected Creative Media Productions at college and it was here that one of my documentaries was nominated for 2011 Co-op Film of the Year and I had a film trailer and music video shown at the Curzon Theatre in London. I then went on to study at University but this was not Edge Hill. I originally started an Advertising and Design degree at a different University but dropped out because my mum was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer and I knew I didn’t have long left with her. I worked in various jobs, including for a marketing company based in London, and worked personally on various advertising and art based projects in my spare time, such as logo designs and posters for bands including the Essex-based group ‘Beat Surgeon/Freddie Cardwell’ and ‘Eastbound and Down’. However, my mum knew how much I missed university life and made me promise I would go back in 2014, so I did. This is where my experiences during my year out helped as I was able to write about this in my scholarship application and hopefully, along with my previous achievements, it portrayed to the selection panel my passion and dedication to this area. To my delight, I received a call stating I had been successful in my scholarship application and I am so glad that the panel saw potential in my application as it has helped me out tremendously.

I originally wanted to save the scholarship money so that I could travel to volunteer in Africa after University or in one of the summer breaks but, as is sometimes the case, my plans had to be changed and sacrifices made. By November, when I received my first payment as a scholar, my mum’s health had deteriorated and I knew that the financial support of the scholarship needed to be spent on travel expenses to London to visit her in hospital. The scholarship gave me the option of not working part time and allowed me to return home and spend time with my mum as often as possible. This is something I will always be grateful for. The scholarships are designed to support people and it certainly helped me, maybe not in the way I originally wished for, but nonetheless the opportunity to spend as much time with my mum is something that couldn’t be beaten.

I have enjoyed my first year at Edge Hill and the Advertising degree. I used the money I had left from the first year of the scholarship and with my wages I have purchased a Macbook Pro along with various Adobe software. This has not only enabled me to work on University projects but also helped me to work on projects away from University and continue developing my own portfolio. In fact, over the summer I have designed the logo and business card for a local company ‘Howard and Williams Carpenters’. Talking about developing my portfolio, I am now looking forward to a three week trip to New Zealand, were most people would go to travel around and see the sights (which, don’t get me wrong, I am hoping to do!), but I am also hoping to book a day with Saatchi and Saatchi for a portfolio critique and to see how an advertising agency is run first hand.”

Simone has the world at her feet!

Now that the Women’s Super League season has finished, Edge Hill University Everton Ladies star Simone Magill has taken the time to reflect upon her achievements which have included winning a Sports Scholarship for Prospective Students. I don’t know how she manages to fit in playing for Everton Ladies and Northern Ireland whilst also studying towards a BSc (Hons) Coach Education degree but this year Simone has also squeezed in setting up a University Table Tennis society!

Throughout Year 1 of her degree, Simone has been helping me promote the University’s scholarships at various events as much as her football commitments have allowed. She quickly realised that I have very little knowledge about football so at these events Simone has been teaching me the basics of the beautiful game! Simone should be proud that I now know that the Women’s Super League season has just come to an end but that international matches are still in full swing! As I hand you over to Simone, here’s to a great 2015 season for Everton Ladies – Come on you Blue Girls!

“Hello, my name is Simone. I am a female footballer who plays for both Northern Ireland and Everton Ladies. I am currently in my second year at Edge Hill University studying BSc (Hons) Coach Education. In my spare time, I am a student guide for the University, which involves helping out at open days, conducting campus tours and talking to prospective students. I am also an ambassador for a local community organisation, Onside Sports Education, which helps to make an impact on the lives of people across the North West who want to further their education, vocation and qualifications in the field of sport, health and fitness. I take great pride in all I do and thoroughly enjoy every moment.

Let’s start with football. From a very early age, 4 to be precise, I have always been interested in football. I played for my school teams and a local boys team Cookstown Youth FC until I was 15. I was the only girl which is funny looking back at it now. I remember when games used to start, the boys on the other teams would laugh at the fact there was a girl on the other team but as soon as the game kicked off they were then silenced by the fact I could actually play! At the age of 10, I also joined a local girls’ team, Mid Ulster Ladies, and I stayed with them until I made the move across to Everton in 2013. I was named the first ever winner of the Northern Ireland Women’s Football Association Premier League Player of the year at the age of 15 and in 2012 I was honoured with the same award.

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At the age of 11, I remember going along to my first set of trials for the under 13 Northern Ireland squad and how happy I was that I got in. From there on, I went through the system representing all age groups, captaining both the under 17 and under 19 squads. Aged 15, I got my first call up to the senior side and 36 caps later I am still very much involved. This is by far my proudest achievement. As a child, this is why I started playing football in the hope that one day I would play for my country.

Football has enabled me to see so much off the world and I am so thankful for the opportunities it provides me with. I have been fortunate to travel to over 18 countries playing against teams such as Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and South Africa.

So, let’s move to University. Most people always ask me how do I have time for all of this, and that is a really good question. Throughout the years, I’ve had lots of practice when it comes to managing my time effectively. I remember when I was doing my A levels and I had signed for Everton, I would fly over to Liverpool on a Thursday, train and play a match and then come Monday morning I would fly home and go to school. Standard week really for me!  Now, living in Ormskirk I can easily access Finch Farm for the Everton training sessions, I do however still fly home for the Northern Ireland games, as you can see from my video diary:

I thoroughly enjoy the degree I am studying towards, I have met some of the most incredible people who will be friends for life. I am truly having the time of my life, enjoying every moment while also working towards a quality degree.”

You can check out some of Simone’s skills at

Samantha supports young people fighting mental illness

Samantha Betteridge is a member of our class of 2014/15 who was awarded an Excellence Scholarship for Current Students in recognition of her sterling volunteer work. Samantha is studying our BSc (Hons) Psychology degree and, as she enters her final year, has a remarkably uplifting story to tell about how she has overcome anorexia and now volunteers to help others with emotional wellbeing or mental health problems. Samantha’s ambition is to become a clinical psychologist.

“So far, my two years at Edge Hill have been the most difficult yet most rewarding of my entire life. Just before I came to University, I was officially diagnosed with anorexia and I had to choose between being stuck on a waiting list to receive treatment or trying to recover alone. I chose the latter and have never looked back. Throughout my recovery, I decided to use my own experiences to help other people so I volunteered with various mental health charities.

I soon found opportunities to volunteer with organisations such as ‘Young Minds UK’ and ‘B-eat’. I became a ‘Young Minds UK’ campaigner in October 2012 for two months and wrote an article advising young people on how to cope with the festive season. Many mental illness sufferers really struggle with Christmas time so this article included ten tips on how to relax, look after yourself and enjoy Christmas. I also wrote an article for ‘B-eat’ charity, in October 2013, for their ‘eating disorders at University’ campaign. This included advice on how to manage at University if you are an eating disorder sufferer, as well as my own experiences.  Since then, I have become a ‘B-eat’ media volunteer, and share my experiences with the media in hope that other people seek help and support.

In July 2013, I started volunteering for ‘MindFullUK’ as a life mentor. For an hour a week, I volunteer online by talking to 11-17 year olds about any emotional wellbeing problem or mental health issue that they may have. This includes talking to young people individually through a private chat messaging system, as well as talking to them on a more general level in an open chat room. The chatroom encourages people to talk about their day, make new friends and allows them to feel included in a community. Also, I have written blog posts for MindfullUK, particularly offering advice on eating disorders.

In my second year, I wanted to do something which would give me personal, rather than online, experience so I became a social inclusion volunteer for the ‘Making Space’ charity. Each week, I supported people with mental illnesses at a social drop, by listening to them, playing games and generally giving them something to look forward to. Being able to use the advice that I’d learned and been given through my own recovery was definitely one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever experienced, and having service users open up to me soon became something I cherished. To confirm my passion for working with people with mental illnesses, I completed a work experience on a veteran’s mental health ward which was extremely eye opening. It was here where I decided that the only thing I want to do with my life now is work as a clinical psychologist and use my experiences to help others.

Finally during summer 2014, I took a big risk in terms of my own recovery and I joined the VESL charity team to spend six weeks volunteering in Thailand, teaching English in a primary school. In order to secure my place on the VESL programme, I organised several fundraisers including a bake sale and running the Manchester Great Run and the Manchester Colour Run. Whilst in Thailand, I lived with the most generous host family and spent my summer laughing and dancing with children, as well as riding elephants, cuddling tigers and swimming in waterfalls. It was the most incredible experience.

Two years ago, I would never have dreamt of doing these things. I have had the privilege of working with some amazing people and I have been lucky enough to see some of the world’s most beautiful sights. I now believe I am almost recovered from anorexia and I now look forward to finishing my degree and helping as many people as I can!”