Henrietta graduated from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in 2016 with a BA in Drama, Applied Theatre and Education. She now works as an Outreach Facilitator at the Battersea Arts Centre and Careers Consultant (Care to Employment) at the EY Foundation.
This is her story…
I went to secondary school and didn’t do too well at my GCSE’s, because around that time, I was still in care. I was at my fifth foster placement and there was a lot going on. I ended up failing every GCSE apart from Performing Arts.
I went to Lewisham College and, by that time, I was in a hostel. I found it really hard to do the written work, but over time my teacher got me into TiE (theatre in education) projects and that’s where I found my love for applied theatre. And I was like, this is what I want to do! So my teacher sat me down and told me ‘there’s this amazing course at Central’ and I was like, I am not a good fit for drama school – drama school is not made for care leavers. Once you are a care leaver you always feel that uncertainty, you always feel that you are inferior to everyone else. But she sat down with me and helped with the application and interview.
The support that I got from Central was not just basic level support. It was one-to-one, it was personable. Having a single point of contact - the same person - throughout my whole degree really helped. Most care leavers have so many different professionals and I felt like I didn’t need more people. They were so consistent with the support and it wasn’t just term time. They told me about my entitlements and it was really clear. Most importantly, they didn’t make me feel singled out.
At first I really struggled. But once the course team knew I was a care leaver, they were even more supportive. There was a real support in terms of resits, other academic help and one-to-one support after lecturing sessions.
Having those bursaries really, really helped. It was also a bit of an incentive to keep me on track as I knew I had to have good attendance to get them. I knew I could have got into a lot of trouble without those bursaries and that would have had a knock-on effect to be able to stay on that course.
By spreading out the payments it’s really helpful because we get lump sums of money from the local authority and we can get overwhelmed by it and just blow it all.
I’ve been working at Battersea Arts Centre for 3 years as one of the outreach facilitators and now I have a new job at the EY Foundation, as a careers consultant for young people in care.
I’m still in touch with the care leaver contact at Central. I feel very privileged and once again it’s the same person that knows me and I’m not having to retell my story to somebody that I have no connection with, no relationship with. It doesn’t feel like a professional relationship, it feels open and honest and they’re not judging me. It’s lovely.
Central for me at first felt really scary. But, actually, once you go through those doors, the support you get is amazing. And, it’s continuous – even when you leave. I felt like I was so integrated and I still am as an alumnus. I feel that the love and support you get from Central across all the staff is amazing and care leavers shouldn’t be worried about coming to Central at all, because you’re part of the family.
The recognition as a Central graduate has opened so many doors for me. And I just think, with having my degree, that I’m so much more than a care leaver.
Read more about Central’s support for Care Leavers.