Ambitious youngsters from less well-off families are getting a chance to realise their academic dreams thanks to a memorial fund created and funded by National Grid Affordable Warmth Solutions (AWS).
AWS is a not-for-profit company established by National Grid in 2009, which is dedicated to fighting fuel poverty. The fund was set up in memory of AWS’s first Chairman Malcolm Wicks, who was also MP for Croydon North until his untimely death in 2012.
The bursary, established with the backing of Malcolm’s family, aims to support young people from challenging backgrounds to achieve their potential.
Students apply for the funding by writing an essay on energy-related issues, with the winners awarded £1,500 to help pay their living costs during their three years at university.
In addition to the life-changing funding, AWS works with scheme administrators National Energy Action (NEA) to identify four-week annual placement opportunities for the winning students.
Placements are carefully selected and aligned to socially aware organisations, including those operating in the energy sector. Where placements are arranged, students receive an extra £1,000 per placement.
The goal is to provide the youngsters with worthwhile work experience that will help them stand out from the crowd when they look to get a full-time job, potentially in a related field.
Jeremy Nesbitt, Managing Director of AWS, believes the bursary’s benefits go beyond the financial.
“Supporting students from disadvantaged communities not only helps them, it also acts as inspiration for other youngsters in those areas to follow their dreams,” says Jeremy.
The first recipients of the bursary in 2014 were three students from Malcolm’s former constituency of Croydon North. This year, following a competitive process held across Doncaster and Rotherham, six students have been selected to receive an award.
These are currently conditional offers and depend on the students achieving their predicted A-level grades.