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Christmas hampers bring festive cheer to care leavers at Edge Hill University

EDGE Hill University students who are care leavers, care experienced or estranged received special Christmas hampers this week. This is the 2nd year that Heather O'Brien from The Halle O'Brien CIC has generously donated hampers to the care leavers who stay on campus during the Christmas break. This year, more than 60 students will receive hampers to enjoy during the festive season.

The Halle O'Brien CIC was set up in 2020 in memory of Heather's daughter. In 2019, Halle was halfway through her 1st year at Edge Hill studying towards a BA (Hons) English when she contracted Strep A and, subsequently, meningitis. Her family have since dedicated their time to improving education for other children and young people.

The charity has grown to include Halle's Hub in Litherland, a community shop run by volunteers that takes in donations to sell at more affordable prices. Funds from this are then used to support projects to improve children's academic and social development, when families might otherwise struggle with the cost of extracurricular activities.

Lily-Joy, a care experienced student from China who received a Christmas hamper, said:- "It was such a lovely surprise. It made me feel cared for, the amount of effort involved to put a smile on our faces made me feel recognised. I was really glad that I was able to receive 1 of the hampers."

June Russell, Halle's grandmother and manager of Halle's Hub, said:- "As a family we wanted to do something as a thank you to the University in Halle's memory. We talked to staff in Student Services and decided to support students without families on campus during what can be a difficult time. Heather decides what is going in the Christmas hampers and chooses items that she would fill her own children's Christmas stockings with; socks, a mug, chocolates. Packing the hampers is a real family affair so we all get involved."

Over the last 18 months, Edge Hill University has been awarded the NNECL Quality Mark, has signed the Care Leaver Covenant and taken the Stand Alone Pledge for Estranged Students, demonstrating the University's ongoing commitment to supporting students with care experience and those who are estranged from their families.

To find out what support is available to Care Leavers, Care Experienced and Estranged students visit the Widening Access and Participation team webpages for pre-entry, or the Student Support team webpages for on-course support. To discover more about courses at Edge Hill University, please visit:- EHU.AC.UK/Study.

Student Loan Company issues another phishing reminder to students

THE Student Loans Company (SLC) is reminding students to be on the lookout for phishing and online scams as the next student loan payment date approaches in January. Scammers may try to trick students into giving away personal and financial information by sending fake emails and texts, or calling and pretending to be from SLC, Student Finance England (SFE), or other legitimate organisations.
SLC will never ask students to provide their personal or financial information via email or text message. If a student receives a suspicious message, they should report it to SLC immediately by emailing:- customer Compliance@SLC.Co.UK or calling our dedicated hotline on:- 03001000059. 
SLC or SFE don't provide any services through WhatsApp and will never initiate contact with a student through social media channels to discuss their application or student finance entitlement. If a customer receives a message via social media purporting to be from SLC or SFE they should ignore it, as official communications about entitlement to students will be through email and letter.  If a customer receives a communication from SFE that they are unsure of, they should log into their online account to verify if it's genuine.

"It's important that students are aware of the risks posed by phishing and online scams, especially as the 2nd maintenance loan payment date approaches in January. Scams have become more sophisticated and can be very convincing, but students should always be cautious of unsolicited communications asking for their personal or financial information. We encourage students to contact our dedicated hotline if they have any doubts or concerns."
said David Wallace, Chief Customer Officer at the Student Loans Company.

Students can protect themselves against phishing and online scams by taking the following steps:-

   Check the quality of the communication - misspelling, poor punctuation and bad grammar are often tell-tale signs of phishing.

   Keep an eye out for any emails, phone calls or SMS messages you think are suspicious, especially around the time you're expecting a payment.

   Scam emails and text messages are often sent in bulk to many people at the same time and are unlikely to contain both your 1st and last name. These commonly start - - Dear Student' - so be on guard if you see 1 like this.

   Messages that convey a sense of urgency are also unlikely to be genuine – for example - 'failure to respond in 24 hours will result in your account being closed.'

   Think before you click. If you receive an email or SMS that contains a link that you're not sure of, then hover over it to check that it goes where it's supposed to. If you're still in any doubt don't risk it, always go direct to the source rather than clicking on a potentially dangerous link.

   Scammers can use a variety of methods to try get students to pay money or share their personal details, including the use of fraudulent phone calls, social posts and direct messaging on digital platforms. If you are suspicious of being contacted, always use official phone numbers, your online account and official communication channels to verify the contact you received is genuine.

   Students should also be mindful of the information that they share about themselves on social media, and elsewhere online, to help guard against identity theft. Identity theft happens when fraudsters access enough information about a person's identity, such as their name, date of birth, customer reference number, course information or their current or previous addresses to impersonate them online and over the phone.

   Check out our guide to identifying a phishing scam at:- Gov.UK.

To help protect students from scams, customers in England will receive an SMS from Student Finance England (SFE) if a change has been made to their banks details, and asking them to confirm the change. If a customer hasn't changed their details but receives a message, they should log into their online account to review their information.

There is also a range of additional advice and information on recognising and avoiding scams from Take Five, a national campaign aimed at stopping fraud: Take 5 - To Stop Fraud

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