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West Lothian College recently secured funding to help eliminate poverty through trauma responsive action.

This year, the Scottish Funding Council is providing a total of £500,000 nationally for colleges to support the Scottish Government’s Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan. Bids were invited in June for preventative approaches that help young people who have grown up in poverty have a sustainable route to positive destinations.

West Lothian College was awarded £122,890 for its ‘Eliminating Poverty through Trauma-responsive Action’ project to work with local partners to improve the situation of students and their families who are facing poverty and have experienced trauma in their life.

The college has created The Den, a specially adapted, safe space for students who are experiencing or have experienced trauma in their life. The funding will enable college staff to complete Mental Wellbeing and Health training delivered by S.M.I.L.E. Counselling that will enhance their ability to support students experiencing challenges with their mental wellbeing.

This new project builds on the facilities the college already has to support students who are struggling financially. Last month, the college installed outdoor washing machines that can be used by students and their families, with pre-paid tokens for those who need them. Through the college’s student association, students have access at the college to healthy pre-cooked meals that are provided by local social enterprise, The Larder, that they can eat on campus or at home.

Sarah-Jane Linton, one of the college’s vice principals, said:

“At West Lothian College we do everything we can to make sure that poverty doesn’t get in the way of our students achieving their qualifications. Working with partners in the community and in the council, our staff lead this crucial work with vision and empathy. This additional funding will help us do even more to improve the life chances of students and help them succeed.”

James Dunphy, Director of Access, Learning and Outcomes at the Scottish Funding Council, said:

“Experiencing poverty and trauma can make learning incredibly difficult and deny people the chance to fulfil their potential.

“Funding such as the Scottish Government’s Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan plays an important role – removing barriers and supporting individuals to access the excellent learning opportunities available through our colleges and universities.

“The Scottish Funding Council  is committed to supporting learners and learning, helping to ensure all who can benefit from study have the ability to do so.  This innovative approach by West Lothian College is a great example of how well colleges understand need and how responsive they are in developing solutions.”

Director of the Access, Employability and Schools Faculty, Margaret Forisky said:

“A new college team is taking this project forward, working with partners like the Scottish Prison Network, Voluntary Sector Gateway West Lothian and S.M.I.L.E. Counselling. Together, we aim to build a sustainable community of support for students who need it most. College staff and volunteers will mentor and help our students gain the skills they need to progress positively to the next stage in their lives.”