‘Young, gifted and blocked’ campaigners graduate from Just for Kids Law’s groundbreaking leadership training

Press release 14 July 2016

‘Young, gifted and blocked’ campaigners graduate from Just for Kids Law’s groundbreaking leadership training

Lord Kerr, Justice of the UK Supreme Court, ‘graduated’ 11 successful candidates in a special ceremony held yesterday evening.

Eleven young people who are campaigning for equal access to education, have completed a unique six-month leadership course, designed by Just for Kids Law founder and barrister Shauneen Lambe.

They are part of the award-winning Let us Learn campaign, which involves hundreds of young people who grew up in the UK, but are unable to take up university places because they fall outside restrictive student loan eligibility criteria.

These 11 young leaders were celebrated on Wednesday 13 July, at a ceremony attended by their families and supporters. Despite having the talent and ambition to go to university, this may be the only chance some of them have to invite their families to attend a graduation ceremony.

They were presented with graduation certificates by Lord Kerr, Justice of the Supreme Court, the UK’s highest court.

Each of the 11 young people achieved good A-level grades, but has faced difficult barriers to achieving their ambition of going to university.

Among those graduated by Lord Kerr on Wednesday were:

– Dami Makinde, who is 22 and lives in Ilford. Dami won a place to study sociology and criminology at Royal Holloway College in 2015, but has been unable to take it up because she isn’t eligible for a student loan. She is currently working as project coordinator for the Let us Learn campaign.

– Ijeoma Moore, 21, who lives in Barking, wants to be a psychologist, but isn’t able to go to university because of lack of access to student finance. In May 2016, Ijeoma told her story to an audience of 6,000 people at the London Copperbox Arena (see below).

– Emmanuel Opoku, 21, has just completed his first year at Imperial College London, where he is studying chemistry. Emmanuel was only able to take up his place after a two-year delay, thanks to a Tiko Foundation scholarship, which generously covers the £26,000 ‘overseas rate’ fees he is charged by Imperial. He used crowdfunding to raise money for his living expenses during his studies.

Just for Kids Law founder Shauneen Lambe says:

‘They are a fantastic group of ambitious young people, who would love to continue their studies and have the chance to follow their dreams. They have been blocked from university, but are taking every opportunity to learn and develop new skills – which is why we wanted to offer them this leadership training. As well as helping them become leaders of their own lives and in their own communities, the training will help make them more resilient and confident – skills which are invaluable given the obstacles many of them continue to face with their education.’

Ijeoma says:

‘Shauneen really challenged us to think about the kind of people we want to be in the world, and how to overcome any setbacks we face. The course gave me a clearer idea of who I am, my own strengths, and who I want to be. I was really nervous about standing up in front of thousands of people at the London Mayoral Hustings, but with the confidence this programme gave me, I knew I could do it.’

The course was designed by Shauneen, and was built on the principles of the ‘True North’ leadership programme, taught at Harvard University by Prof Bill George.

For more information contact Fiona Bawdon, fionabawdon@justforkidslaw.org; 020 3174 2279; Caroline O’Dwyer, carolineo’dwyer@justforkidslaw.org: 07984 095793

Notes for editors

1. Just for Kids Law is a London-based, award-winning charity, which supports young people facing difficulties in their lives. www.justforkidslaw.org

2. Funding for the Let us Learn leadership training was provided by Unbound Philanthropy.

3. The Let us Learn campaign was founded in 2014, and currently involves over 400 young migrants, who have faced obstacles going to university because of restrictive eligibility criteria for student loans.