Say Yes to Education, Say Yes to Progress: Simone, Step Up Mentor

Accessing education can feel impossible for many people. There can be a lot of perceived obstacles you feel you have to overcome and believe that education is not for people ‘like us’ such things like; out of education for a long time, long-term unemployed, criminal records, dependents or neurodiversity. I can’t speak for everyone but this was how I felt back in 2019 and I tick all of the above boxes.

I was told about the ‘Step Up to HE’ from a friend and I was looking for a new direction after leaving an abusive relationship. I thought about it and decided to apply. I honestly thought that Staffordshire University would take one look at my application and dismiss it, but after a few days, I had an email inviting me to an interview. It was exciting walking into the Science Centre. It’s an amazing space and you can feel a good vibe there. However, in the back of my mind I did not think I would be accepted because back in 2019, I didn’t understand what education is and the ethos of ‘Step Up to HE’. 

Step Up to HE is all about making education accessible. The programme leaders are more interested in your life experience and willingness to engage with them, than solid qualifications or bumps in your past. The leaders understand that the more diversity within educational institutions, the bigger the potential for creativity and new ideas, alongside challenging concepts about who is able to contribute within society. These seem like big ideas but they start with an individual. One such as myself or the many others who want to achieve and are unsure if they can. ‘Step Up to HE’ is a free course that gives you the tools and UCAS credits needed to apply for an undergraduate degree and it doesn’t end once the course is completed. 

‘Step Up to HE’ will support you in making decisions about what degree is right for you, make sure you get the correct funding for your course and any bursaries you might be entitled to. One other personal obstacle I am living with, is a hidden neurodiversity, Dyslexia. It was gently pointed out to me while studying, and I was signposted to the Staffs University Inclusion Team. Where I was able to get a diagnosis and the relevant support I needed. 

Being diagnosed really helped me understand myself better. I didn’t put myself down anymore for being ‘stupid’ because dyslexia doesn’t mean you can’t pursue education, it means you learn differently and there is support from Staffordshire University, for many forms of neurodiversity.  

Accessing education has changed my life, it has changed the way I perceive myself, given me the confidence to go for opportunities I would have never even considered or had access to. Education is a challenge and a commitment; you will need determination but all the other things that make you doubt you can do it begin to fade as you take your first steps and begin your own journey through Step Up.

If you are feeling somewhat similar and don’t know where to start, we are here to help as Step Up Mentors. Through our YES Project, we are able to offer 1:1 coaching and mentoring with young people aged 16-24 which aim to develop the following: 

  • Academic and Learning Development 
  • Life and Career Planning 
  • Mentoring and Coaching 
  • Information, Advice and Guidance on progressing to University

Please feel free to get in touch with the team directly via email on or via Facebook: Step Up to Higher Education/Twitter: @StaffsStepUP and we’d be happy to see how we can help you achieve your future aspirations!  


78 thoughts on “Say Yes to Education, Say Yes to Progress: Simone, Step Up Mentor

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