Latest Case Studies Naomi Ball - Access to HE 2016/17 I was in a very different place in many ways to where I am now. I have struggled with serious mental illness since the age of 15 and spent long periods of time in acute psychiatric hospitals over the last 11 years. I couldn’t see a future where I was well and struggled with many aspects of life. I battle with symptoms of depression and psychosis which used to make life almost impossible. Also before Fircroft I had been out of education since I first became unwell and was unsure if I even had the capability to finish anything. I learned so much, not just educationally but also about myself. I signed up initially for some of the short courses with the aim of starting the Access course in September 2015. To begin with everything went well and I learned that I could complete something! However, I had to defer my place on the Access Course due to illness and so I also learned how to cope with disappointment and developed my perseverance and resilience. I began the Access Course at Fircroft in September 2016 and this was the start of a year of incredibly hard but rewarding work! The different subjects we studied as part of the Access taught me so much-both in terms of the educational content but also about working in groups, sharing my ideas and supporting others. I made some lifelong friends and I learned to take pride in my own achievements. I am here at university! A few years ago I was at Birmingham university for work and it was graduation day. As I looked around I thought to myself ‘I’d love that to be me one day!’ But I didn’t believe it was a possibility. Now I am here at university! I’m studying psychology and counselling undergraduate degree at Newman University. I am much more confident in my own abilities and recognise that it’s ok to not understand things-you can always learn something new, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are in life, learning can happen for you! As long as you are prepared to put hard graft in and you have an interest in what you are learning you can learn, grow and develop. I still struggle with symptoms of my illness but I am now managing them rather than then managing me. Fircroft was one of the first steps for me to change my life.