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National honour for student’s care leaver support

Published: 21 June 2022 at 14:00

Professor Sir Les Ebdon, Matt Western and Hannah Branton

ARU Social Work student Hannah prepared resources to help people at university

An Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) student has received a national commendation following her work to help people with a care background in higher education.

Currently in her second year studying Social Work at ARU, Hannah Branton, 26, won first commendation in the Student of the Year category of the NEON (National Education Opportunities Network) Awards during a ceremony at Portcullis House, London. 

The NEON awards recognise successes and accomplishments in widening participation in higher education to people with disadvantaged backgrounds, and helping to enable social mobility.

Hannah, who lives in Witham, worked tirelessly during an internship with ARU’s Schools and Colleges Engagement team to help improve the university experience for people with a care background. She produced an information video for academics on sources of support for care-experienced students and worked to improve the provision of support for care-experienced students living in halls of residence. 

She also helped to establish the peer network, Stronger Together; a platform for care-experienced individuals to come together, be it for a check-in chat or for social activities. 

Hannah has also been heavily involved in running Summer School and Taster Days, as well as ad-hoc projects on money advice, graduation, and wider support, such as employability. Hannah said:

“I had a legal career before coming to university, but I chose to study Social Work because I wanted to empower people often marginalised and disadvantaged.

“ARU has supported me through adversity and enabled me to thrive in higher education. I’m extremely proud to have received this commendation and I hope I have made a difference.”