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Stand Alone Pledge

University pledges support to students estranged from their family

Published on: 21 November 2023

Newcastle University has strengthened its commitment to supporting students who don’t have relationships with their family.

The University recognises that not all students have a loving and supportive network of relatives and that studying can present many challenges by being on their own.

As part of its ongoing commitment to widening access to higher education, Newcastle University has signed the Stand Alone Pledge, which will provide additional help and guidance to estranged students.

National pledge of support

The national pledge was launched by leading charity, Stand Alone, which supports institutions to implement measures to enable estranged students to access and thrive in higher education.

By signing the pledge, the University marks a significant step in its efforts to foster an inclusive and supportive environment for all students, regardless of their personal circumstances.

Sally Ingram, Director of Student Health and Wellbeing at Newcastle University, said: “We are proud to announce our Stand Alone Pledge commitment to strengthen our continued support for students who are financially or emotionally estranged from loved ones.

“We know these students can face multifaceted challenges relating to finance, accommodation, mental health and wellbeing, and feeling connected - we want to do all we can to ensure these students not only succeed academically but also thrive personally.”

Stand Alone highlights several key challenges that estranged students often encounter and must overcome during their time in higher education.

By aligning itself with the pledge, Newcastle University aims to provide targeted support in these crucial areas.

‘Loneliness and isolation’

Newcastle University graduate, Kez Rebekah, sadly knows all too well the difficulty of being an estranged student as she has not been in contact with her biological parents since 2017.

She was keen to go to university because getting student accommodation, so she didn’t risk being homeless, and securing a student loan, so she had more money, were two big incentives.

Whilst studying Theoretical Physics at Newcastle, loneliness and isolation were among Kez’s biggest challenges and the first two years she struggled with these issues.

However, by her third year, Kez found that huge support of a good group of friends and the University meant she had a feeling of belonging and finally enjoyed her studies, graduating with a first-class honours degree.

The 22-year-old, who is currently living in Sydney, Australia, said: “When you are an estranged student, you manage to miss almost every type of support out there.

“There was no long-term financial or emotional support which was hard as a young person. For me, getting to university felt like my get out of jail free card from all the turmoil, as I’m sure it is for many other estranged young people.

“I’m thrilled Newcastle University has signed the Stand Alone pledge. Estranged young people tend to be very overlooked in a lot of aspects of life and I’ve always found that if I needed help, I had to actively search it out and ask for it.

“Moving to university and studying a degree is already a lot to have on your plate for anyone, so if you then add being estranged and not necessarily having a robust support network behind you - that’s tough.

“I believe that by taking the pledge, Newcastle University is taking steps in putting estranged students on a level playing field with their peers and that is very much welcome.”

Kez Rebekah

Accessing support

Anja Atkinson, Student Finance Adviser, and the initial point of contact for estranged students at Newcastle University, said: “Our collaboration with Stand Alone is not just a symbolic gesture; it is a testament to our unwavering commitment to addressing the varied needs of our student community.

“Our dedicated efforts are aimed at alleviating the challenges these students face and creating a nurturing environment where all feel supported and valued.”

Newcastle University’s pledge comes at the time of Estranged Students Solidarity Week. Throughout the week – 27th November to 1st December - Stand Alone will be running a campaign to highlight ways to identify estranged students at different points of their student journey.

Newcastle University will be launching a new regular Cake and Coffee morning for estranged students on 27th November, to help this group of students feel connected and supported.

If you are a student at Newcastle University and you’re estranged or facing the prospect of estrangement and you need support, contact

To find out more, read our latest blog by Anja Atkinson here


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