The Longford Scholarships
Scholars report back
"The experience certainly provided me with new possibilities for my future."
Paul Carter-Bowman, 24, was a Longford Scholar between 2005 and 2007. He graduated with a 2:1 in Law from the University of Westminster.
When I started my degree in September 2004, I had to work full-time on the minimum wage to fund my studies, travel, rent and other living expenses. Naturally, this had a largely detrimental impact on my studies, which often had to take a back seat to my employment. The funding from the Longford scholarship enabled me to reduce the hours I spent working to pay bills to a level at which it was no longer impinging on my studies. Getting this balance right is a challenge that all students face of course, but having a Longford Scholarship gave me something more: Here was someone prepared to place their trust and faith in me, it made me have a greater sense of responsibility. Once you've been in prison and served your time, you know you can take your punishment whatever you do. So if you start a degree course and then you cock it up, you have nothing essentially to lose. But with the Longford Trust behind me, I felt that I couldn't afford to muck it up. The process was unlike any other I have been involved in. From the first moment the Trust displayed such an interest in me that I didn't feel they held me up as a target, as I had felt during my years at the hands of the criminal-justice system, but that they genuinely held my interests at heart.Throughout my degree, I always had this sense that I wasn't quite good enough to be at university because of my background. It wasn't something that other students or my lecturers necessarily made me feel. It was inside me. I had this feeling that I didn't quite deserve the opportunity. Working with Tom (Paul's Longford Trust mentor), made a huge difference to my development by providing me with support. At one stage, Tom was arranging a series of debates on prison policy, as awareness-raising events for the trust. As someone of a nervous disposition, I avoided public speaking. However, Tom was highly encouraging and offered me the support that made me believe I could not only take part in the debates, but actually enhance them and benefit the audience. The experience certainly provided me with new possibilities for my future.
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