West Lothian College leading the way according to national report

National research has found that West Lothian College is leading the way in tackling student poverty.

The latest report in the Pathways from Poverty research series from the College Development Network spotlights how the college is shaping local and national efforts to lead people out of poverty.

Pathways from Poverty: Leading with Empathy and Vision: An Insight into West Lothian College is a detailed case study of the college’s trauma-responsive approach to tackling child poverty by addressing the wider challenges faced by students, their families and communities.

It examines the role of a college in supporting the aims set out in the Scottish Government’s Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan. A focal point in the report is how food poverty is a major problem for an increasing number of students and the barrier that presents to effective learning and good physical and mental health.

West Lothian College has led the way in helping students who are facing the very real threat of hunger. Students have access to a warm free breakfast and lunch five days a week and takeaway dinners prepared by local social enterprise, the Larder, are available for students who cannot afford an evening meal. Some colleges and universities have been inspired by the college’s approach and introduced similar schemes.

Many of the college’s anti-poverty initiatives are delivered through close working with local partners. The college’s Student Association has built strong local connections with organisations like River Kids, The School Bank West Lothian and the Financial Inclusion Network to provide much-needed support to students during the winter months. Facilities at the college include subsidised access to washing machines for students experiencing homelessness or temporary accommodation.

The report highlights how the college has built a trauma-responsive approach to the challenges faced by students. Critical to this approach are partnerships with organisations like West Lothian Council, Action for Children, and Children 1st. Shared commitment from the college, community partners and activists is creating hope and opportunity.

Jackie Galbraith, Principal of West Lothian College, said:

“People with experience of trauma are often impacted more than others by poverty. For some, poverty has been the cause of the trauma in their lives. Aware of these connections and the further disadvantages facing people who are care experienced, we take a whole-college approach to supporting our students.”

“This new report shows how our staff are leading with empathy, for example, through our TRUST Project that aims to break the cycle of young people experiencing poverty, addiction and crime.”

To read Pathways from Poverty: Leading with Empathy and Vision: An Insight into West Lothian College visit www.cdn.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Pathways-from-Poverty-Leading-with-Empath-and-Vision-An-Insight-into-West-Lothian-College.pdf