Sam Parker

Fe College

City Lit


University of Westminster

HKF Award Year


Now works as

Specialist Clinical Practitioner (Clinical Psychologist)

I grew up in a very challenging and turbulent environment with four siblings. We were extremely poor, which meant we lived on handouts of food and clothes a lot of the time. All this meant I struggled with my behaviour in school which ultimately led to me being permanently excluded. I was out of school for a whole year, during which time I went into care, where I lived in a children’s home.

I was eventually referred to a pupil referral unit and transitioned back into mainstream school over the next year, however i had missed a lot of school at this point and still found school a challenging environment, which did not suit me when times were hard. This meant I left school with two very low grade GCSEs. I left my children’s home aged 16 and moved into semi-independent living before moving into independent living aged 18. I was out of education and employment for a number of years before doing various manual jobs.

During this period and beyond I struggled with many things including low mood, poverty and eventually decided to seek help. Through the help I received over the next five years both socially and psychologically I started to piece things together again. I was supported into returning to study and leading a healthier lifestyle. This is when I was introduced to City Lit College by a worker who helped build my confidence in being academically able. I started with the return to study course to help getting used to being in education again. Initially, I struggled to produce any work due to my low confidence and nearly dropped out due to not doing my work. However, with the right support, I started to produce work and build up confidence. Following this I went on to study my English and maths GCSE’s at City lit and then an Access Course.

At this point I was unsure if I wanted to continue my studies and if so, what i wanted to do. With the support of my course tutors who I had now known for 3 years, we decided to apply for an undergraduate in Psychology. I was still uncertain about this but they continued to support me. I was extremely worried about being able to afford a degree and they said they had applied for a scholarship for me. Little did I know at this time how this would change my direction of life.

I was lucky to be awarded a Gold Scholarship from Helena Kennedy Foundation, which I can honestly say swung my decision to going to University. Not only was the money a huge boost and help, but the support the foundation provided me both pastoral and in terms of gaining experience was invaluable. They helped me find a volunteering job as a mentor for ex-offenders and to start to think about my career and life post degree. The step up to university was a struggle but I had great support both from university and the foundation and ultimately I graduated with 1st class honours in Psychology. The organisation I was volunteering informed me they had a job opportunity and to apply if it interested me and I was extremely happy to get a job before my final exam at University. Without this experience I wouldn’t be here now. Unfortunately, funding came to an end for my project but with the experience I gained I was able to apply for an assistant psychologist post and my career path was set in. Through the next three years I gained enough experience to apply and be accepted for a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology which I graduated from in September 2017. I am now a fully qualified psychologist working with young people from similar background to me and without the foundation and all the support i received from them and all my tutors i would not be here.