Thursday, 20 December 2012

Gemma Oldfield – The Gift of Sponsorship.

Coming from a working class family, when leaving school I did not go straight to university as I though only well off families could afford to send their children onto higher education. Now studying as a mature student in the final year of my MA in Digital and Visual Communications at the University of Wolverhampton School of Art and Design, I regret being put off by fees and costs a few years ago. My studies have enriched my life tenfold and I feel I have missed out on years of reward, development and happiness. Over the past 5 years I have been lucky to be awarded several forms of sponsorship from multiple organisations and trusts, ranging from pantone pens to money for books, software and digital technology right through to thousands of pounds worth of fee sponsorship. Without these gifts of support I would not have been able to achieve my goals and dreams; for this I am very thankful to my sponsors.

Filling in application forms, seeking sponsorship and searching for organisations with funding opportunities who’s criteria you meet, is a tough job but don’t be put off. For every ten applications I have made, I have had one positive reply and over the years I have built up a great relationship with some of my sponsors.

Funding and sponsorship is out there you just have to take the time to look. When I started to research I was very shocked by the types of awards available; some disciplines have greater opportunities available than others. I found many offers of support for art & design, media and creative disciplines and so I applied to them all as this was my area of study. The main reason I had so many negative responses was due to my age but don’t let this put you off, I carried on applying and the hard work and relentlessness paid off. With university fees recently having increased I feel it is crucial for students to seek out support from organisations; there is a vast scope out there that are applicable to different subject areas, geographic locations plus social, cultural, ethnic and domestic backgrounds – all you have to do is look.

So how do you find sponsorship? My path started as I knew of a local educational trust named Sebright’s Educational Foundation, they were a local trust that only funded students in the area I live and they have been my main sponsor, offering support for the past five years. Following this I was informed by another student, of The Hugh Walker Mitchell Fund, they too were a local trust related to my community parish church. Again they only supported students in my home area; recently these two organisations have merged together. Proceeding from this I was intrigued to find out if any other support would be accessible to me. A key source for anyone seeking funding is local libraries, as they hold listings of local charitable trust funds, further to this, online there is a vast amount of information relating to sponsorship, scholarship funds and bursaries. If you are interested in finding sources of sponsorship, also visit the university library and student office they will have information available on bursaries and other support. Additionally you may be lucky enough to have an employer that may support you; all you have to do is ask. Finally don’t ever be ashamed to apply and ask for help, I feel it shows a great deal about an individual’s capabilities, passion and drive to achieve their dreams. All you have to do is take the time to communicate with people and you will be surprised as I was. Please see a few links below that may help you research path.

Turn 2 Us

The Prince’s Trust


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