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University of York to trial providing free accommodation to care leavers

The scheme was set up by a York graduate

The University of York is to provide a year's free accommodation to a limited number of students who have been in care and are currently studying at York.

The package, which is being piloted for this academic year, includes free on campus accommodation to the value of £130 p/w for up to a 52 week let.

At the end of the academic year the package will be evaluated with a hope to carry it out for a further five years. The scheme was set up by York graduate Chris Hoyle, who described it as his "proudest professional moment."

Believed to be the most comprehensive support package in HE for care leaver students other steps in the package include: Financial support with bursaries of up to £9,000 over the three years of study, help arranging and paying for secure storage of belongings during year abroad and year in placements, welcome packs for all care leavers moving into halls including kitchen and bedding packs and free fresher wristbands, and support from trained accommodation staff regarding accommodation issues.

The launch of the pilot package coincides with National Care Leavers' Week (28th October – 3rd November).

Figures show only six per cent of 19 to 21 year old care leavers were known to be in higher education in 2018. Chris Hoyle told The York Tab he set up the care package he wants to change this.

Chris said the aim of the support package was to focus on continuation and attainment of care leavers whilst at university by providing them with support through their entire degree.

He added he was really proud of the support package created for York students and described how drawing on his own experiences as a care leaver in HE helped him to include overlooked aspects of care leavers coming to university, for example where to leave their belongings if they are doing a year abroad or placement.

Since Chris revealed the news of the pilot package being approved he has received an enormous amount of support and thanks on Twitter.

The Minister of State for Universities congratulated the University of York and Chris for their "fantastic news".

Education Secretory, Gavin Williamson, praised York for leading the way in supporting care leaves and encouraged all other education sectors to follow.

Prospective student Julian Thomson thanked Chris for his work with the University of York to provide free accommodation for care leavers.

He said: "Hadn't considered studying Law at Uni of York until I heard about their Care Leavers accommodation policy! Thanks to Chris Hoyle for all you do."