Natasha Williams is a student pharmacist currently studying at Liverpool John Moores University. She received our financial bursary and has kindly shared her story to encourage those in our pharmacy family who are struggling to reach out.
I have been financially independent since I moved out of home at 18, I am now 24. During these years there have been times when I have been completely homeless, having to move in with amazing friends who had the heart to take me in when I was at my lowest. Alongside not having a place to call home, I had to work multiple jobs to be able to afford and put myself through university.
In 2017 I was accepted into Liverpool John Moores University and after explaining the situation I was in, I wasn’t eligible for extra funding. Meaning I had to continue to work a part-time job alongside my studies to keep a roof over my head and pay the bills. Doing this caused my disability, chronic fatigue syndrome, to badly relapse. Flare-ups can leave me collapsing whilst I am at work or I am bed-bound for days, two things I couldn’t afford to happen as I needed to work to live.
I find it distressing that my body cannot keep up with my mind.
In my second year of university, my friends and I were targets of a brutal attack outside of my flat. Not only was I hospitalised, but I suffered for two weeks with a concussion unable to work or attend university. I was also petrified to leave my flat after dark which sent my wellbeing into a downward spiral. Even though this was all during exam season, I managed to pass all my exams and come out of second year with a first. This year taught me I am a very resilient person and no matter what I am going through, I will keep doing the right things to steer my career in the right direction.
With the support from my friends and university tutors, I was encouraged to apply for the Pharmacist Support Bursary when it came around. After being turned down for university funding through my academia, I had limited hopes about anything coming from the application.
To me, the Pharmacist Support bursary means an active facilitation of the future pharmacist workforce.
The bursary assists in providing a level playing field for students who have had a more challenging route to achieving their pharmacy degree. I received the bursary in my final year which provided stability both inside and outside of university. I was able to reduce my hours at work which had a positive impact on my wellbeing and made sure I was able to get my disability into a more manageable position. Because of this I was able to attend all university classes and allow more time for revision. By providing me with financial stability, I was able to achieve what I wanted in my ORIEL exam and have accepted a trainee pharmacist position at Leeds Hospital which was my 1st choice in ORIEL. I also achieved a 1st class masters in pharmacy.
Receiving the bursary also meant I could afford to start wearing contact lenses, improving the quality of my life in all aspects. I was previously wearing out-of-date prescription glasses because I couldn’t afford to update them, which meant I had to strain to see and in turn, gave me constant headaches. These have now subsided as I was able to afford my new prescription. Another part of my life the bursary has helped me with is that I am now able to afford driving lessons, which will open opportunities throughout my career, and when I make the move to Leeds in the following months, the bursary will facilitate the logistics of moving across the country and setting up there.
I am open-minded as to where I want to end up when I qualify however, I would love to stay on the hospital pathway and complete my clinical diploma.
I had felt many times in the last 5 years that giving up would be the easier option.
However, I have found the people I have met throughout my life and the network I have made for myself are majorly important for me in overcoming all the obstacles that have been thrown my way. My co-workers supported me by helping me find a new place to live and supported me emotionally. When I started my pharmacy degree and became homeless, my personal tutor helped me prioritize my life by signposting me to a place to live, helping me get a part-time pharmacy job to get a steady income and helping emotionally with troubles at home.
I have learned the importance of networking and surrounding myself with people who genuinely care about my wellbeing and want what’s best for me.
I am in an incredibly good position in my life which would have been markedly more difficult to achieve without the financial support from the charity.
This bursary has been life changing!
Thank you Pharmacist Support!