A former looked after child fulfils his dream of caring for others after graduating from the University of Chester.

Posted on 20th September 2018

Achieving your very best is possible if you study at the University of Chester – so says a Warrington man who grew up in the care of the local authority and is about to graduate as a qualified social worker.

Allan Humphris.
Allan Humphris.

It was his experiences during his childhood and teenage years ‘in care’ that convinced Allan Humphris that a career as a social worker was his future.

He said: “During my youth I had a lot of interactions with professionals in various services on a variety of levels. 

“From personal experience, I know how positive influences can lead a young person to a positive future – and this made me want to have the same impact on future generations.”

Allan chose to study for a BA in Social Work at the University of Chester partly because it’s local to where he lives. He’d also worked with various social workers and other professionals who had studied at the University. He explained: “I’d heard good things about the University, so the choice of where to study was easy.

“Because of my background as a looked-after child, some people questioned my decision to be a social worker and suggested I would find the course challenging. But I thrive on challenges, and the course made me feel empowered to be able to make a difference.

“We had countless opportunities I would never have thought possible, for example hearing first-hand accounts of how people in the community have experienced social care, including the highs and the lows.”

As a complete contrast to his training as a social worker – where day-to-day decisions have a direct impact on individuals in the community – Allan enjoys performing as a drag artist up and down the North West. This part of his life, he says, gives him different perspectives.

“I visit so many diverse venues and meet such a variety of people, which helps me apply my skills and capabilities most effectively in my life as a social worker.”

As well as his performance art, Allan has a mantra he believes has helped him throughout his life, and especially while studying. He explains: “Always remember the reason why.

“Any student will tell you that there are times when studies can overwhelm you. You need a release, but remembering the goal – what it’s all about and the reason why – puts things into perspective.

“I can honestly say that as a care-leaver, my years studying social work at Chester have been some of the best times of my life. 

“My degree has opened lots of doors, not just in terms of my career, but also in helping me towards a greater understanding of myself and others.”

Allan enjoys helping children and families achieve their potential. He said: “That might sound cheesy, but working face-to-face with children and families is where my heart lies, and gaining my degree means I can do this.

“During the past four years, when people found out that I’d been in care, they would be surprised that I wanted to be caring and support people in similar circumstances, and that I wanted to give back.

“To me, that’s a natural thing to do – and my tutors and fellow students have made sure that I take every opportunity to give 100 per cent of who I am to the role of a social worker.

“The University of Chester is a very supportive place. The tutors and support staff all want to see every student achieve their full potential and to future students, I would say that at the University of Chester, achieving your best is possible!”

Dr Gillian Buck, Senior Lecturer Health and Social Sciences, said: “Allan is a vibrant character who made a big impact on student morale and learning, despite experiencing personal hardship on his road to becoming a social worker.

“He is able to strike a great balance between sensitively sharing his own life experiences and remaining open to the learning and knowledge of his peers. 

“He has used these qualities and formed excellent relationships with children and families facing adversity.”