‘Knowing that there are people willing and generous enough to help me is huge’

Rhea Griffiths, studying Politics and International Relations, tells us about the difference having a Futures Scholarship has made during her first year.

My school’s catchment came predominantly from the council estate where I grew up – there were only 12 of us in my sixth form. I took a year out after A Levels because I needed to work. I’m the oldest of four children and my mum had lost her job so I was helping to pay for rent.

When I said I wanted to go into higher education my mum was sceptical because she always saw it as a huge expense. When I found out I had got the Futures Scholarship it felt like such a relief. The Scholarship funding has helped with my deposit for next year’s rent – I wouldn’t have been able to afford that otherwise. I also enjoy going to public lectures on topics relevant to my course. Some of these are in London so I’ve been able to afford to travel down there so I can attend.

I wasn’t aware how much some people relied on support from their families. When I got here it was a shock to me that that was even an option! There are lots of things you struggle with if you don’t have financial backing from home, which is why I think peer mentoring is so important.

When I graduate, I would love to become a solicitor – what it would mean to me, and to my family as well, would be huge – but it’s hard to find funding do the Graduate Diploma in Law. There’s always fears about finances like that, but I know that my funding will help.

First year is getting better and better and I’m feeling more comfortable here now. The city is gorgeous and my teachers are so supportive. Being a Futures Scholar has been an integral part of how I’ve found happiness at university. Knowing that there are people willing and generous enough to help me is huge, and it touches so many people on so many different levels: whether it’s buying a new laptop or affording to take a train somewhere for your birthday, it just feels like you’re being supported. Knowing in the back of your mind that someone is rooting for you is probably the most important thing because, speaking for myself, and probably a lot of the Scholars, they don’t necessarily have that from home.

The people who support us are so generous! I would love to be able to do something like that after I graduate. It’s so important for social mobility, and we all feel it. And there are not enough words in the world to say thank you – it’s been so great.

The University of Bristol’s Futures Scholarships award talented students in financial need a total of £4,500. This includes £2,000 of funding to help with essentials in their first year and a further £2,500 towards an internship, placement or other employability-focused activity over the course of their time at Bristol. Students also receive guidance and career support from our dedicated coordinator. A scholarship gives students freedom from financial uncertainty. It provides them with the option to choose a job that fits around precious study time and makes it possible to succeed.

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