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Stacey Van-Rossum

Stacey has achieved something remarkable: she's the first in her family to attend university. In paving the way for her children, she's proved that pursuing your passions is possible with self-belief. Stacey's life journey, from selling food in London's famous markets during her youth to being a devoted full-time mother and student, serves as a powerful example for her kids and those around her. Choosing to return to education 16 years after leaving school, she displays remarkable determination. With the backing of her tutors and fueled by a commitment to social justice, Stacey aspires to establish her own crime awareness programs, contributing to her community and creating opportunities for others.

Stacey Van-Rossum

My mum's a nutritionist. We had a family business called Hemp Seed Organic in Spitalfields Market, and then we opened a fruit and veg stall in Broadway Market. I was selling the yams, sweet potatoes, plantains. My brother was doing the bananas and apples. It was buzzing. You've got food stalls – pie and mash, jerk chicken, rotis, Thai curries, paella, everything. And I love eating!

Our family was on benefits for a few years before we started up our businesses. So it was hard. There wasn’t that much support for domestic violence, alcoholism and drug abuse. 

I went to secondary school in Tottenham, so it could be rough, but I wouldn't change it. There were a lot of gang-related issues with Tottenham and Hackney. I'm one of eight. I'm the first one to get a degree.

"I'm very proud of myself and it has made my kids want to go to uni."

I was out of education for 16 years. I got sort of put off uni – I went straight into work. I had my first child, my son Oliver, when I was 23. When he was three, I went back to work and then I had my daughter five years later. I've always worked since the age of 14. I wanted to do something like giving back within the community and growing up around domestic violence.

When I started at London Met, I did struggle massively in the first year. I didn't think I fitted in. I didn't think I was hitting the grades. I didn't even know what Harvard referencing was. And I didn't think I was catching on like other people in my class.

London Met supported me and they made me do a dyslexia test – and it turned out I was dyslexic. It's not my reading and writing – it's retaining information. If it wasn't for London Met, I wouldn't have known about that. Hats off to them for spotting that and the support they gave me afterwards was outstanding.

What I enjoyed about our course was that it shows you about the barriers and the social discourses that a lot of people go through, especially the marginalised communities within London. 

"The course is a lot about building yourself up, but also how you can help others who face a lot of barriers in this life."

There were people from all different backgrounds, all different ages on the course. And we all supported each other. If there was group work and some people's kids were off sick, everyone was quite understanding. There were a lot of mature students, older, not just mums but grandmums. So it was nice. We used to bring in food for each other. There is a big community spirit within London Met. 

When I left London Met, I did an internship at ISG. It was a research project, basically looking into why the construction industry's dominated by white males. For example, one of the black-owned construction businesses would send in a white counterpart who would act as the manager – because otherwise people wouldn't work with him – and that shocked me. I'm definitely hopeful for the future though. I think that the next generation of youth are gonna push for what they think is right.

Policies are being adjusted and diversity and inclusion is on the forefront of a lot of these organisation’s minds now. I think it's just nice to see that London is now moving with the times and it's what I'd like my kids to grow up and see.

I'm in the process of trying to start up my own social enterprise with one of my good friends I went to London Met with. It's a knife awareness/crime diversion program – something that I’m very passionate about. People don't really understand why people go down certain life paths. Especially about their upbringing and the trauma that they've gone through. I've always known that I wanted to be doing, giving something back – and protecting certain people.

We're putting together a six-week programme that will help people look at their mindset and the consequences and choices of using knives, and then work on their networks and surrounding themselves in positive networks and hopefully putting them into vocational training or employment.

London Met was like a restart button for me and my family. London Met made me realise that I could give back, make a difference and also support my family. I hope me going to university has inspired my children. My kids have been with me on this journey every step of the way. They saw how hard I worked for it, and they were really proud.

Stacey Van-Rossum

"London Met made me realise that I could give back, make a difference and also support my family."

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