A SLEEP disorder and problems with somewhere to live made university a worrying prospect for student Hollis Butler but a Wiltshire Community Foundation education bursary helped him find a solution.

The 25-year-old had difficult teenage years and ended up estranged from his parents and living alone in a social housing flat in Marlborough aged 18. His health issues and his living situation made it impossible to go into halls at Reading University, where he wanted to study classics, without losing his flat.

“The problem was in the summer holidays I was guaranteed that place but if I had been in Reading I would have nowhere to go in the holidays,” he said.

He applied for the education bursary and was awarded £4,000 so that he could travel to university each day and stay over in a B&B if he needed to be in a lecture early.

“I was delighted when I got the bursary, and knowing I had my travel costs covered for three years was a massive relief to me,” he said. “The flexibility of the bursary was a big part of why it was so useful. My sleeping disorder was particularly bad while I was at uni so having the ability to stay in a B&B on a Thursday night meant I could get into my 9am lecture and be able to concentrate.

“I had a lot going on at the time going into uni and you can’t put a price on peace of mind.”

After university he won a place on a graduate scheme with St James Place Wealth Management in Cirencester. “It’s a rotational scheme, so every six months I move to a different part of the business and alongside this, I’ll be starting a PR qualification in April,” he said. “I have a year-and-a-half left of the rotations and then I will look to move into a permanent role with the business, all being well.”

He said being able to go to university and have the certainty of being able to afford it was a huge step forward after his earlier problems. “Now that I am in a full-time position and I know what I am doing I feel much more settled. My issues are behind me, I’ve got my degree and a job I love, things with my family are in a really good place again and I have been in great health for the past few years,” he said.

“I can’t emphasis enough how the Wiltshire Community Foundation’s funding really was very reassuring to me and even having conversations with the foundation staff was always nice and it helped to know someone was checking on me every now and again. I am massively grateful to the community foundation for helping me.”

Wiltshire Community Foundation has awarded more than £1.6 million in education bursaries since their launch in 2008. In 2020 it awarded £305,000 in bursaries and vocational and education support grants to 125 beneficiaries. This year’s funding round, with grants of up to £1,600 a year, is now open for applications. To find out more and apply go to wiltshirecf.org.uk/grants-and-support/individuals.