North-east MSP to meet with Deputy First Minister

Gillian Martin raised the plight of estrangement in the Scottish Parliament chamber
Gillian Martin raised the plight of estrangement in the Scottish Parliament chamber

Gillian Martin MSP has secured a meeting with a Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary as she bids to ensure estranged students have more support in place.

Aberdeenshire East MSP, Gillian Martin, raised the plight of estrangement in the Scottish Parliament chamber before the holidays as she questioned the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, on how the Scottish Government will assist students who cannot rely on their parents for financial or emotional support.

Ms Martin has now secured a meeting with John Swinney to discuss the matter in more detail. The Aberdeenshire East MSP will attend with Stand Alone a charity which supports estranged adults and students who have faced homelessness and poverty as a result of their estrangement.

A Freedom of Information request to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland found there were 145 such estranged students in Scotland. The reasons are often very complicated - with abusive families, clashes of values, and teenagers not being accepted for their sexuality among the most common.

Research by Stand Alone, suggests such students are three times as likely to drop out. It says around 30% have faced homelessness.

Ms Martin and Stand Alone want to work with universities and the Scottish Government to put in place policies, such as offering year-round accommodation and wellbeing support services, as more students experience family trauma.

She said: “There is a pressing need for greater support for estranged students in Scotland.

“There are clear challenges and pressures that are unique to these young people. They can often come from chaotic and abusive homes, and further and higher education is their route to a better future. But they need support.

“These students can’t run to mum and dad for money, they can’t go home in the holiday periods, and they can’t turn to their families for emotional support.

“The system we have assumes students have parental support, which for estranged students, isn’t the case.

“I’m keen to discuss how we can offer more support to those young people impacted and I’m grateful that the Scottish Government Deputy First Minister John Swinney is willing to meet with me to see what can be done.”