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Students in the North West invited to apply for 23/24 student finance

FULL time undergraduate students in the North West are being encouraged to apply now for student finance, as the application service launches for the 23/24 academic year. The Student Loans Company (SLC) paid over 1.5 million students more than £22bn in maintenance loans, grants and tuition fees in the last completed academic year (21/22). As students start to prepare for the upcoming academic year, the message from SLC is to submit applications as early as possible, so that their funding will be ready for the start of the new academic year. Prospective students don't need to have a confirmed place on a course at University or college to make their application, as the course details can be updated at a later date.

Jackie Currie, Interim SLC Executive Director of Operations, said:- "Deciding to pursue study through higher education is a big decision for every potential student and there's a lot to organise and manage before their course starts. Many aspiring students will be in the middle of studying and getting themselves ready for important exams in the months ahead, which is why I highly recommend submitting a student finance application as early as possible. That way they can focus on their studies and working towards making their education goals a reality."

Important information for prospective students...

There are a number of resources available for students to find out more on how to apply and about the financial support that might be available. For example:-

1. Full information, including:- guides on how to apply, what funding is available and videos to help students through the application process are available at:- StudentFinance.Campaign.Gov.UK.

2. Students can apply for Tuition Fee Loans to cover fees and Maintenance Loans to help with living costs. There is a student finance calculator to estimate entitlement:- Gov.UK.

3. Students can also access more information and guidance on Gov.UK, The Student Room and by following Student Finance England on:- Facebook, Twitter, or on:- YouTube.

Have important documents to hand:-

1. Students should have their National Insurance Number and passport details to hand before starting the application.

2. They will also be asked for bank details when applying, including the 8-digit account number and 6 digit sort code. If the bank details change after applying, it's quick and easy to log into their online account and update them.

Track the progress of the application:- 
Applications can take 6 to 8 weeks to process, and students do not need to contact us during this time. They can track the status of their application via their online accounts and will be notified if there are any outstanding actions they need to take. Students can also make changes to their personal information in their online accounts.

If a student has studied before:-

1. If a student has studied before it could affect their eligibility; even if the previous course was self-funded. Make sure to submit the application early so entitlement can be confirmed.

2. If returning to study after a break, students should use the online account they originally had, rather than create a new one. The online search function can be used to locate it.

If estranged from parents... I
f a student has no contact with their parents for over a year, they may be able to apply as an estranged student. Applications from estranged students are dealt with by our dedicated team of specially trained, customer advisors to ensure that the process is sensitive to their circumstances. The evidence requirements are different too. Read this guide to find out more.

Depending on circumstances students might be entitled to further support...
There may be circumstances where a student is able to access some extra money, for example if they have additional needs, have children, or are studying for a medical, social work or teaching course. More information about what is available can be found here:- Gov.UK/Student-Finance.

Jackie added:- "The online application process only takes around 30 minutes to complete, and for most students the process will be straightforward. However, we know that some individuals may require extra support, and we have a dedicated specialist team who are ready to help guide students through their journey."

Student finance applications for part time undergraduate and postgraduate student finance will be available later in the spring.

Number of children counselled for loneliness remains high following Pandemic and amidst cost of living crisis

NEW data published by Childline reveals that the service is contacted 15 times a day on average by children struggling with loneliness; often a catalyst for mental health problems.

Between April 2021 and March 2022, the Counselling Service run by the NSPCC delivered:- 5,564 counselling sessions with children on this issue.

With the support of retailer Lidl GB; which has fundraised for Childline since 2020; the charity has launched a campaign called:- 'Day in the Lonely' to let children struggling with loneliness know that these feelings do not need to last.

Amidst the long lasting consequences of Covid19 and the drastic increase in the cost of living, the charity is encouraging young people; with the support of their parents; to speak about their mental health issues early on, so it does not escalate to crisis point.

The charity's concern comes as it finds a 71% increase in calls from under 11s seeking support for loneliness compared to:- 2017/2018 figures.

Recently, a Childline Counsellor was told by a 10 year old girl:- "I am so lonely as I have no friends at School anymore. I often cry myself to sleep at night…so I called Childline. I have not told my parents how I am feeling because I don't think they will take it seriously."

Poor mental health is a top concern for children contacting Childline and has been for the last 6 years. A 15 year old boy said:- "For the past few months, I've been feeling lonely and like I'm nothing. I act happy when I'm around my mum; she seems to think I'm fine, but I'm really dying inside. I feel like nobody understands and I don't know who to tell. I'm worried they'll laugh and won't believe me or say... 'you out of all people can't be feeling that!'"

The 'Day in the Lonely' campaign includes 3 videos showing a day in the life of 3 young people and the different ways they experience loneliness, all of them based on real Childline calls. 1 of the videos features Rob; who is feeling lonely and misunderstood despite having lots of people around him; being in a football team and regularly socialising.

Childline insight... Childline's trained Counsellors hear from lonely children who feel that way due to being left out of friendship groups and social media chats, whereas others say their loneliness stems from feeling negatively about themselves or feeling like their friends or family don't understand them.

Young people told Childline that the national lockdown, due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, compounded feelings of loneliness

Counselling sessions on loneliness peaked during the Pandemic, between:- April 2020 to March 2021, when the service remained a frontline service supporting more than:- 6,000 young people who were grappling with this issue whilst spending an increased amount of time at home.

Since moving out of the Pandemic, although the service has seen a slight drop in counselling sessions on this issue, the number of children needing support remains high.

Shaun Friel, Childline Director, said:- "Loneliness is sadly an issue that a high number of children and young people are experiencing, and, at Childline, we know the impact this can have on a child's wellbeing and mental health. We've had cases of children left feeling depressed, that's why we are reminding all children that talking to a trusted adult like a parent, teacher or Childline Counsellor about being lonely is a brave thing to do and it will enable them to get the help they need. Through this campaign, we want to raise awareness amongst children and adults, that there are many reasons why young people might feel lonely, but these feelings don't have to last and that getting support early on can prevent things from escalating in the future."

Mark Newbold, Lidl GB Senior CSR Manager, said:- "It's heartbreaking to see young people struggle with loneliness, and that is why at Lidl we are proud to have funded the NSPCC's 'Day in the Lonely' campaign. We are committed to raising funds that mean more youngsters in need of emotional support can get the help they require as fast as possible."

Children and young people can contact Childline for free, confidential support and advice 24 hours a day online at:- or on the phone on:- 08001111

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