Changing the lives of Children in Northampton, mature student Adesuwa tells her story
Adesuwa Omoregie Ogie, a mature student, who graduated at the Royal and Derngate last week, found time to balance working and family life, alongside studying for her BA Childhood and Youth degree programme. Three years ago Adesuwa started her studies at the University of Northampton, with the youngest of her five children just three years old. Now she has launched her own social enterprise to help children in her community.
“As a mature student with a lot of personal responsibilities, I was a bit nervous when I first made the decision to go to university. I found out about the University of Northampton through Milton Keynes College Access to Education programme. From the moment I visited the campus and spoke to the academics, I knew that Northampton was the place for me. The course leader was very friendly and we talked through my fears for studying and what the University could do to help and support me to balance them all.”
The BA Childhood and Youth programme includes three work based placements. It was during these placements that Adesuwa’s academic knowledge and the practicalities of working with children and young people became clear. She decided that it was time to do something to support children and families from the Black Minority Ethnic (BME) community.
What started as an idea born out of this work based placement has now seen Adesuwa launch My Essence Oasis, a social enterprise, which helps children and young people in the BME community, and other groups, struggling with special needs and mental health issues. Her work has already helped lots of children across Northamptonshire.
“While I was studying and out on placements I began to notice that a lot of parents within my community didn’t have the understanding and support to cope with children who had learning disabilities and special educational needs. In the early days, I just got closer to the parents I met and used my knowledge from my course to help them. I also tried to enlighten the community around these children and their parents, to help reduce their feelings of ostracism.
“It was at this point I decided that I had to do something. I held a conference called ‘understanding’, within a religious setting, which was really well attended. I invited parents, religious leaders, and people from the community and everyone was very positive about what I was trying to do. I then started having conversations with my lectures and this helped form the way Essence Oasis works.
“Essence Oasis provides a non-judgemental platform for our community to openly talk about their challenges. There are more cultural and religious barriers in ethnic minorities, so it needs special attention to address these barriers and access the right support needed. Most of the support out there is not culturally sensitive, so our approach is from a culturally sensitive point of view. We are now providing activities for SEN children and their families. Likewise we support families, acting as advocates and liaising with organisations and professionals who specialise in dealing with mental health illness, autism and other related issues.
“After I graduate, I’m actually going to come back and start another course with the University of Northampton to develop my knowledge in the area of social work, so I can develop what Essence Oasis can offer to my community.”
Although Essence Oasis is in its early stages, Adesuwa is keen to find people and organisations to work with to improve the lives of children and young people within the BME community. For further information on Essence Oasis visit their website.