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Amanda Walker, Chancerygate Foundation, Director

Amanda Walker is director of the Chancerygate Foundation, which is supporting two new bursaries for students from black and minority ethnic backgrounds applying to our Building Surveying and Quantity Surveying BSc courses

“There’s so much more to supporting students than just handing over a cheque”

It might seem hard to believe, but the real estate sector is actually less diverse than the House of Commons. There’s a report recently published by the Bridge Group that makes for sobering reading. The perception is that real estate is a world where it’s still very much about who you know, and the evidence backs that up. That’s eactly what we are hoping to tackle through the work of the Chancerygate Foundation. We want to inspire people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds who would not have considered a career in this sector – and to encourage them to believe that it’s possible.

The Foundation is based on the idea that the best way to increase diversity is through education. Andrew Johnson, the founder of Chancerygate, believes passionately that everyone should have the same chance to access a good education. Having the opportunity to realise your potential shouldn’t be a privilege that’s reserved for the few.

Financial support can make a huge difference to students – I’ve seen that for myself. I’m a single parent with two daughters at university, and I can see how difficult it is for them to get by. Students at LSBU have to contend with the high costs of living in London. Even if they’re not paying rent, things like travel costs can be a huge barrier. I know for example there are students living in the outer zones who struggle to get to their lectures on time because they can’t afford a peak Travelcard. That’s just another source of worry and anxiety to pile on top of the other pressures they’re already dealing with.

With these bursaries, we want to offer more than just money. It’s important, of course, but there’s so much more to supporting students than just handing over a cheque. Our goal is to build a long-term relationship with the Foundation students, providing mentoring and ongoing support, and leveraging our network of contacts to give them the best possible chance of finding work when they graduate from LSBU. I’m a year away from qualifying as a counsellor and I think that’s going to be enormously helpful in terms of working with the students, and maybe recognising the signs that someone could do with a bit of extra help.

For me, this role brings together so many of the things I’m passionate about. I’ve spent much of my career in education, helping young people and – increasingly – focusing on their mental health. In my last role at Oundle School I was liaising with the community, finding ways that our pupils could support local people and local initiatives. So the idea of giving something back really resonates with me too.

We’re so excited to be launching these bursaries. I can’t wait to start working with the students on this potentially life-changing initiative. In future, of course, we hope to be able to help more people but for now the focus is on making sure we can walk before we run, and on ensuring that we are providing high quality support and building strong relationships with our students. That’s the priority.

Find out more: links here to content on the website about the bursaries/Chancerygate Foundation website