Daniel’s future is on a firmer footing

Award-winning QMU podiatry student Daniel Pauley
Award-winning QMU podiatry student Daniel Pauley
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A final year podiatry student who transformed his life through university education has been presented with an award from the UK’s leading fostering charity, The Fostering Network.

Daniel Pauley, a 25-year-old podiatry student, was presented with the award of “Outstanding Achievement in Education” at the Fostering Excellence Awards in London.

Daniel, who left school at 15 with few qualifications, has used his university education to transform his life and train for a career in healthcare. His recent success on BSc (Hons) podiatry at Queen Margaret University was recognised by the Fostering Excellence Award. The boy who had been written off in his teenage years had won an award for attaining the highest clinical grade in his year group (Level 3 Clinical Studies prize in 2016-17) at QMU.

At the end of October, Daniel travelled to London to take part in the prestigious ceremony in Westminster where he received his award during an afternoon tea reception.

Now in their fourth year, the Fostering Excellence Awards provide a fantastic opportunity to shine a spotlight on some of the young people, foster carers, social workers and others who make a positive contribution to the fostering community. The Fostering Network’s chief executive, Kevin Williams, was particularly keen to mark the achievements of some of the young people in the UK who have been fostered. He said: “We believe that with the right support, particularly from foster carers, care-experienced young people can truly thrive.”

Daniel spent some of his life in foster care. Only six per cent of children in foster care go on to university level education compared to 43 per cent of people who have not been fostered, so it was a great achievement when Daniel secured his place on the podiatry degree at QMU. His lecturer Evelyn Weir, who is also a foster carer herself, nominated Daniel for the award.

Daniel said: “When I was at school there was really no support and it was very disheartening. I’d had a lot of difficulties at home and I didn’t get any encouragement from the teachers, so I had no self-belief. It was no surprise that I didn’t do well academically. But I eventually realised two things – I loved helping people and I enjoyed health and fitness, so I picked myself up, went back to college and got an HND. That helped me get a place at QMU on the BSc (Hons) podiatry course, and I’ve never looked back.

“As a foster child, you can be easily cast off. If no-one believes in you, then you don’t believe in yourself. But my experience at QMU has completely transformed my life. I am shocked at how much help and support is available – from financial support through bursaries, which means I should complete my degree without building up massive debt – to the incredible support of the academics and professional services staff. They are totally invested in helping students be all they can be. At last, I’ve found people who believe in me, so I can start believing in myself.”