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Hardship support offers light at the end of the tunnel for final year teaching student in need

Laura is a mature student in the final year of her teaching degree. She has been training for the past four years to gain her qualified teacher training status and begin a career in primary school education.

But like hundreds of students at Sheffield Hallam University, Laura’s final term has been turned upside down by the coronavirus pandemic.

After carefully organising her family finances to support herself and her daughter throughout her degree, the pandemic saw Laura struggling to make ends meet through circumstances completely out of her own control.

“Over the past four years of studying me and my daughter have learnt how to control our spending to enable us to manage well. When coronavirus hit and we were told we could not go out, I was left with an assignment and my dissertation to complete alongside having a 15 year old daughter who needed the laptop we shared to complete her own studies.”

Laura relied on the university library for a quiet space and resources but was forced to find a new normal that would work for her family when the university campus closed in the final stretch of her degree.

“I could not visualize a way that I would complete my studies at the same time as staying calm and allowing my daughter to complete hers. I will be a newly qualified teacher in September and have already secured myself a dream job which is dependent on the completion of my course. I never expected anything to fall out of place or any unexpected financial need to occur. Inside I was fearing the worst and visualizing everything I had worked for coming to an end without a result.”

At just the right time, Laura was offered a lifeline from her tutor, helping her overcome the intense anxiety Laura felt for herself and her daughter caused by the pandemic.

“An email was sent to everyone on my course explaining that certain funds were available for anyone who is struggling. It made me realise I was not alone and that this completely unexpected event was not my fault. Before that moment I did not feel I had anywhere to turn and certainly would never have made anyone aware of my situation unless I had not received that email.”

Laura reached out to the university hardship fund and received financial support to purchase a laptop and internet security, along with a food voucher to support herself and her daughter. Laura said the support offered by the university was the only way it would be possible for her to complete her course.

“The support I received came at the time that I needed it the most. I was unable to do any of my research, I was trying to stay positive for my daughter and life had taken a rather large turn. When I received the email confirming the amount I had been awarded I cried with tears of relief. Eventually I saw the light at the end of the tunnel.

The Sheffield Hallam University hardship fund has received a years’ worth of enquiries in just 5 weeks. 2500 students have already received support, but with a student population of 30,000 and 1 in 5 students from low income families, we know more students like Laura will need our help.

“It was difficult to try and get back on track to get my first assignment ready by deadline day, but I did it! Applying for help and receiving it comes with a big bag of mixed feelings and emotions but I am forever grateful for the original email detailing the support available and to those who considered my situation and helped with no obvious signs of judgement or any intrusive questioning.”

The Sheffield Hallam Coronavirus Appeal is raising additional funds so all our students can complete their studies and follow the path they have been working so hard to reach.

For Laura, this means becoming a fully qualified primary school teacher and joining a profession where she will play a key role in supporting the next generation as we look past the current crisis.

“When I look back on my time as a student, I will be forever grateful that we were helped to stay on our feet at a time I could feel the ground crumbling beneath me.”

You can help more students like Laura get through this crisis through the Sheffield Hallam Coronavius Appeal.

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