The This Is Us community (TIUC) is our dedicated and safe online space for estranged and care-experienced HE students and recent graduates in the UK to connect, share info, arrange meet-ups and more! It’s free, national, and open to all ages & years of study.
You simply have to be a self-identifying care-experienced or estranged HE student to join the space. We don’t go by student finance definitions and we welcome all kinds care-experience: residential care, LA care leavers, supervision orders, kinship care, adoptees, etc. If you are studying in any kind of Higher Education (HE) and fancy joining us, we’d love to have you join us.
Join the This Is Us community
Once you’re in the community, you can:
+ chat with other students
+ share thoughts and post helpful info
+ arrange meetups, organise games-nights, daytrips, holidays, etc
+ request Unite Foundation resources to help you run virtual and in-person meetups (see below)
+ have serious conversations or share light-hearted fun
+ give peer-support and pose your own questions
+ make the space whatever you want!
What does ‘care experienced’ or ‘estranged’ mean?
• Care experienced: means a person has spent time living with foster carers under local authority care, in residential care (e.g. a children’s home), looked after at home under a supervision order, or in kinship care (looked after by relatives or friends). This includes adoptees/adopted people.
• Estranged: means that a person doesn’t have support from their parents (biological, step or adoptive) due to a breakdown in their relationship.
There are many reasons why someone becomes estranged, which could include (but are not limited to): being homeless/at risk of homelessness, being a victim of domestic abuse by family members, having experienced/been threatened with ‘honour’-based violence or forced marriage or being rejected for being LGBTQ+ or because of life choices which parents disagree with.
Meetup: Create your own TIUC fun!
Do you have an idea for a meetup, event or activity you want to see take place locally, regionally or nationally for your fellow care experienced and estranged students? You can access funding and support from the Unite Foundation to bring it to life. Read the ‘Create your own TIUC fun’ guidance document, then apply via our short form.
Want to know how other students have gone about running their own TIUC meetups? Check out Lisa’s blog.
The Sounding Board
An ongoing roundtable of students and recent graduates who are care experienced and/or estranged and want there to be a strong student-led community for all care experienced and estranged students in the UK. Members of the group are individuals who campaign and advocate for better support for students like us. We meet regularly with Ira Hakim (Unite Foundation) to help shape the This Is Us community.
Want to know more or join us in the Sounding Board? Get in touch.
Raise awareness of the This Is Us community
Print out your This Is Us community poster or order more This Is Us community postcards for your higher education institution, society, organisation or Student Union/Guild/Association via our postcard order form. The flag on the posters is our very own This is Us flag, co-designed by students and representing the diverse and dynamic estranged and care experienced community.
These are = our ideas
Latest Research: “What would a fantastic student-led community of care-experienced and estranged students look, and feel, like to you?”. This is a snapshot summary of all the chats and ideas from 2022 with over 170 students and recent graduates. Take a look at our findings here.
These student ideas continue to feed into the creation of the This Is Us community. Remember, this space is student-led and is always open to new ways of doing things. Got an idea for a group, event or topic? Go ahead and create it yourself or gather others to help you in the This Is Us community. You can also drop Ira Hakim (Student Community Manager) a message if you would like a hand bringing your idea to life.
Why does the This Is Us community exist?
The community was born in May 2022 because the Unite Foundation received many messages from estranged and care experienced students, as well as recommendations from students in the This Is Us forum, saying they wish they knew other people from similar backgrounds and that some sort of community existed specifically for and by them.
Designed to be a student-led space: it is early days so the platform will be a bit quiet, and you’ll see a few posts around by Ira whilst things are being built. However, as more people join, set up group chats and organise meetups across the UK, Ira will be taking a step back to let the community do its thing. The content, events/meetups and groups are all student ideas.
The Unite Foundation has promised to support and sponsor the This Is Us community long-term. Ira Hakim is the only member of staff from the Unite Foundation who manages the community. Their role is to act as a sort of human-toolkit who can provide a platform, resources, finance, contacts, safeguarding, advice/guidance and anything else needed to bring the community to life.