By Georgia Beech
After four years of sweat, tears, and laughter, my time at the University of Chester has almost come to an end.
This pivotal moment has made me question, “What’s next?”
It’s a time of transition, and a time I want to spend getting to know who I am, and where I want to be.
I got in touch with a charity where I got the opportunity to speak with 22-year-old, Lucy Croxton.
Despite the restraints of lockdown, Lucy was able to meet with me in person, where she delved into her life after university.
Lucy studied Law at the University of Birmingham, and has since challenged the government to the rights of children in care.
In her role as a Researcher and Campaigner, for The National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS), Lucy said: “I could not see myself in a different career”.
NYAS is a children’s charity, campaigning for the rights of young people, and children who have been cared for by a local authority before the age of 18.
After achieving her degree, Lucy instantly found herself in a promising graduate scheme in accountancy.
Leaving university, and entering the unknown, is an unnerving concept for many graduates, especially for those who are unsure what it is they want to use their degree for.
Impressive as the graduate scheme appeared, Lucy explained: “I was so desperately miserable trying to become a qualified accountant. From the offset I knew it was not for me. I had studied Law at university but was always more interested in politics and current affairs.”
Yearning to make a positive difference in the world, Lucy started searching for alternative career paths, where she could utilise her skills.
Fortunately, she stumbled across a more suited job role for her personal goals.
“I found the job by pure chance on the very last day of it being open for applications, and as I read the job description I honestly could not have thought up a role that I thought was more suited to me, or my ambitions,” said Lucy.
Working for a well-established charity has broadened Lucy’s horizon, as now she is able to incorporate her passion for change in to her day-to-day life.
Due to the constraints of COVID-19, Lucy has been working from home, where she writes up evidence for a committee on the impact of COVID-19 on young people.
“I have been writing persistently to stakeholders, the Children’s Commissioner, and doing a survey of children in care to find out about their experiences in lockdown.”
I asked Lucy: “Do you have a certain goal you would like to achieve during your employment at NYAS?”
“The first immediate goal is to see the unnecessary, unjustified and ill-thought out SI 445 withdrawn. I have consistently held the government to account during the COVID-19 crisis.”
The SI 445 is a statutory instrument, which was passed by the government in April 2020.
Lucy added: “SI 445 was granted, removing many important rights for children in care, such as timescales for phone calls from social workers and regular independent checks of their accommodation.”
COVID-19 has hard hit those more vulnerable in care, as Lucy explains that young people are not receiving the attention they need.
However, these testing times have not hindered Lucy’s ability to make a difference.
“Our outputs at NYAS contributed to growing pressure and a recent debate on the law was held in Parliament, with NYAS’ work being referenced twice.”
Sheer determination and diligence have evidently allowed Lucy to flourish in an environment, which seeks justice.
“Have there been any people in particular who have influenced you?”
Lucy responds: “My biggest inspiration has been the young people we campaign for. Our campaign team has a care-experienced advisory group that we discuss our plans for future campaigns with and seek feedback from.”
“I really value their opinions and experiences. I have had some conversations with them that I will always remember; many campaign to make sure that other young people don’t have the same experiences as them. That has inspired to do my job to the very best of my ability.”
Like any career, this job does not come without its obstacles, as Lucy tells me she found picking up the phone to reach out to contacts extremely daunting.
Nevertheless, the more experience Lucy gains, the further she is able to push herself out of her comfort zone.
Many careers now do depend on research and establishing strong connections.
Lucy’s advice towards this is that you do become more confident with practice.
“What do you enjoy about your job?”
“I love the idea that I could help someone in a small way. Often it is high pressure, when decisions by government are being made quickly and the charity needs to respond, but I find it exhilarating! I am thankful that I am given high amounts of discretion to research things that I am interested in,” responds Lucy.
There is no right way to find out what you want to do with your future.
In life, it is a matter of trial and error- experiencing different environments until you discover more about yourself and what makes you happy.Lucy found that she needed a career where she could be herself and make use of her caring nature.