How FE support is vital for student wellbeing


It had always been my intention to move straight from school to college to pursue my A Levels and then go on to university to study something I’m really passionate about. With 11 decent GCSEs in my bag I began Media Studies, Film Studies and English Literature at the Manchester College Shena Simon campus in 2014 and was eager to keep on moving upwards.

It wasn’t really until second year that home and family issues surrounding addiction and mental health really began to take their toll on the things I wanted to do and the person I wanted to be; putting me in a position where what was to be expected of me based on my previous good track record, was never completed on time and was most certainly not up to my best standard- but this was really far from something that I could afford to be bothered about. It had finally come to the point where academic and domestic life were too heavy to balance and I had let both slide drastically. I was becoming unable to cope with most things and was feeling deflated every day. It was at this point that the staff at Manchester College really stepped in and gave the exact support I needed, without even realising it myself.

Tom Roberts, my media tutor of two years took it upon himself to connect with me personally and kept up with politely holding me back after lessons in which I had been reserved or subdued (definitely not my usual self in these classes), to sincerely ask if there was anything I wanted to talk about and if there was anything he could do to help. Although I may not have taken advantage of these opportunities in the moment, just the knowledge that I had someone looking out for me on this level absolutely encouraged me to attend and engage in every lesson- even on my worst days. Following completely confiding in Tom later on in the year, he put me in contact with Lelo Haile-Giorgis, a member of the Student Experience Team on campus who provided a constant open door and weekly counselling sessions from an undergraduate on placement during college hours, which took a huge burden off my back and gave me the reassurance that I no longer had to deal with everything on my own. People were actually around to help me out!

Glenn Meads, my second year film tutor and Donna McShane, my English tutor for both of my years at the college made a massive impact on my academic studies as well. They both acknowledged my situation with respect and dignity and never pushed me with deadlines; enabling me to feel in control of at least one aspect of my life. I am also grateful for the trust that they, along with Tom, put in me to not take advantage of this and to have my work checked regularly and completed as and when I needed to. Every single tutor I had contact with treated me with respect and empathy, they communicated with me as a mature adult and devoted their time to me, not only as a student but most importantly as a person.

If it wasn’t for the levels of support and encouragement from I received from Tom, Glenn, Donna and Lelo, I genuinely believe I might not have made it to where I am today – a second year student studying Cultural Media Studies at Leeds Beckett University, having already achieved an overall First in my first year, feeling positive in my outlook and a definite future where I’m not afraid to ask for help. It’s down to these few incredible individuals that I have recently become set on a Youth Work career, perhaps in pastoral care, to have that chance to inspire and encourage disadvantaged or struggling kids, like myself. I hope to be able to maintain that potential and drive in youth to perform and achieve exactly what they’re capable of and in the long run, hopefully change a fair few lives for the better!