The National Strategy Group aims to; lead the development of strategy to achieve the mission and aims set out by NNECL; advocate for the network of regional groups and their members with policy makers from central Government and other bodies; maximise the complementarity of national organisations’ various inter-related activities; and ensure that local regional voices are represented.
Priya Clarke, Widening Participation Officer, Queen Mary University of London
Priya is the designated member of staff for young people with experience at Queen Mary University of London. With over 5 years of experience working with Looked after Children from across East London. Priya works closely with Advice and Guidance other key teams at the university to support students on their journey through university. Priya also works with London local groups to promote and support collaboration work.
NNECL National Strategy Group Members
Beth Taswell, Care Leaver Support, City, University of London
Regional rep for: London
Beth currently works as the single point of contact for care leavers at City, University of London, where, alongside supporting students, she is working on developing and implementing a scheme of comprehensive support for other vulnerable groups. As a care leaver herself, she has worked in Widening Participation Outreach during her undergraduate and postgraduate studies at Kingston, and help to develop the provision of support for care leavers available there. She is passionate about advocating for accessible prospects for those who have come from a disadvantaged backgrounds, and is keen to use the opportunities that she’s been given to help those who have come from a similar background to her.
Claire Edden, Outreach Officer (Experience Warwick, Looked After Children & Care Leavers), University of Warwick
Regional rep for: West Midlands
Claire has worked in Widening Participation roles since 2005. Her previous role was focused around encouraging WP learners to consider careers in health related professions and was funded by Aimhigher. She joined Warwick in 2008 as an Outreach Officer and is the institutional contact for care experienced young people which involves providing advice and guidance for applicants, carers, local authorities and designated teachers. She works closely with a range of teams across the institution to ensure a holistic support network for all care experienced students. She is also an active member of both West Midlands Care Leavers Network (WMCLN) and NNECL. As part of her wider role she is currently responsible for the Experience Warwick programme, the Yr. 10 Summer School, WP Link Officer for the Faculty of Social Science. She is committed to the aims of WP and feels passionately that all of our young people should have equality of opportunity regardless of their background.
Di Stone, Widening Participation and Community Engagement Manager, University of West England
Regional rep for: South West
Di Stone has worked at the University of the West of England as Widening Participation Manager since 1994. Throughout this time Di has acquired extensive knowledge and experience of working with children in care, care leavers, Foster Carers, virtual schools and Social work teams across the West of England. In her role as Events Coordinator for the Aimhigher West Area Partnership Di developed and coordinated a wide range collaborative HE interventions to raise aspirations and support attainment of children in care and care leavers across the South West. She represents the South West on the NNECL National Strategy Group and provides the link between South West Universities and Virtual School Heads. Di has organised 2 South West Regional Conferences and has presented, on behalf of Universities in the South West, at a number of local, regional and national conferences.
Melissa Page, HE Guidance Officer, De Montfort University
Regional rep for: East Midlands
NNECL Lead for: NNECL Conference
Melissa Page is a Higher Education Guidance Officer in the Transitions Team at De Montfort University. She is the designated contact person for students coming from local authority care, as well as estranged students and student carers. Melissa has worked as a Guidance Officer for a number of years and organises university experience days for young people in care and training for care professionals. She works closely with local authorities to deliver events and develop opportunities for young people to engage in educational opportunities. Care leavers at DMU are encouraged to take up the offer to work at these events to share their experiences and motivate other young people and professionals to regard higher education as an achievable aim for care leavers.
Melissa is part of a team that provides advice and guidance to care leavers and their support workers on issues relating to finance, accommodation, support at university and moving on after graduation.
Trudy Ing, Widening Participation Project Manager, Oxford Brookes University
Regional rep for: Central Region
Trudy started working for Aimhigher in 2004, joining the Milton Keynes, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire (MKOB) core project team. Working in partnership with a variety of organisations, she delivered structured programmes of events and activities to raise awareness of, and aspirations to, higher education, including delivering summer schools for care experienced students.
Through her current role as Widening Participation Project Manager at Oxford Brookes University,Trudy works with particular target groups including care leavers and students with disabilities. Trudy leads the NEON working group for the Disabled Learners in the south.
Trudy has always been committed to ensuring care experienced students in the region have access to appropriate advice about future options and are aware of the educational options available. One of her future goals is to embed the continuation of support for care leavers within her institution by writing a care leaver policy. Trudy is a member of the NNECL central region working group.
Wendy Price, Access to Higher Education & Scholarships Manager, University of Sunderland
Regional rep for: North East
Wendy has over 17 years experience of working in higher education, including 12 years supporting care experienced young people at the University of Sunderland. In her current role Wendy is the institutional contact for care experienced students which also involves providing advice and guidance for applicants, carers, local authorities and designated teachers. She works closely with a range of teams across the institution to ensure a holistic support network for all care experienced and estranged students.
Wendy has close relationships with a number of Local Authorities and Virtual Schools in the north east region. She is an active member of a number of collaborative partnerships; Wendy is the North East Representative for Northern England Care Leaver Activities & Student Support (North CLASS) and a member of the Management Group for North East Raising Aspirations Partnership (NERAP). Throughout her career Wendy has acquired a wide range of knowledge and experience related to working with care experienced young people. She is committed to raising the educational aspirations of care experienced young people and ensuring that they each have the opportunity to achieve their potential.
As part of her wider role at the University of Sunderland, Wendy leads the pre-16 educational outreach and scholarships teams. She is also the institutional contact for estranged students and a senior safeguarding officer.
Liz Ferguson, Outreach Officer, University of East Anglia
Regional rep for: East of England
Liz has worked in the University of East Anglia’s Outreach team since 2008 and has experience of a variety of roles. Since 2015 Liz’s job has focused on widening participation activities for specific under-represented groups, including care experienced students. In her current role Liz has developed and hosted a series of collaborative residentials specifically for looked after children, and works closely with the Norfolk Virtual School to arrange activities, mentoring and tutoring for local students.
Vanessa Chapman, Partnership Officer, Care Leaver Progression Partnership
Regional rep for: South East of England
Vanessa is based in Kent and has worked on projects that support vulnerable students for 12 years; initially as part of the Aimhigher initiative. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education.
Vanessa currently has two roles. The first is as Partnership officer for the Care Leaver Progression Partnership (CLPP) in Kent and Medway, a collaborative of universities, colleges, local authorities and training providers in Kent and Medway who work together to improve the post-16 education and training experience of care-experienced young people in Kent and Medway.
Her second role is for the Kent & Medway Progression Federation (KMPF), where she is the team’s External Projects Manager; an outward-facing role, building links with appropriate local and national projects and organisations to support and enhance the work of KMPF.
In addition to being the south east rep for NNECL, Vanessa also has a communications role for NNECL, working with the NNECL Coordinator on various communication matters, including production of the newsletter.
The following organisations are represented on the NNECL National Strategy Group:
- Action on Access
- Care Leavers' Association
- National Union of Students
- The National Association of Virtual School Heads
Non voting co-opted members: