Fundraising for 16 year old Amber to access further education from home as her mental health issues rule out college. She's not giving up.
The girl is me. My name is Amber Kirk- Ford, I'm 16 and I really need your help. Three years ago I developed several illnesses overnight: Chronic Anxiety & Panic Disorder, along with Emetophobia and Agoraphobia. Suddenly, I couldn't go to school or places with my family. I couldn't even hang out with friends. I went from being carefree and independent to becoming a constant burden on everyone around me. In short, it was devastating.
After lengthy meetings with my school and various solutions tried and failed, we began to think about home education. I'd been home educated when I was much younger and it was a success, but this time I was about to start my GCSEs and we all agreed that I needed qualified teachers. That's when we discovered InterHigh.
InterHigh is an amazing non-profit independent school conducted entirely online, catering for students from all over the world, using classroom software and a headset to communicate with the teachers and classmates. Classes are live and highly interactive and, not only does InterHigh teach to International GCSE level, but it also has its own online sixth form college where A-levels can be studied, too.
It is! It was the perfect solution, and as my parents couldn't afford the fees, my ordinary school agreed to fund my place on the condition that I continued to make good academic progress. I was so, so happy because it meant I could continue my education and therefore get my qualifications despite my illness.
I tried going to a psychotherapist but, being severely agoraphobic, this didn't work out. I then turned to online counselling where I built up a great relationship with my counsellor, but the organisation she worked for went into administration soon after - it was there one day and gone the next, with no warning. Doctors refuse to give me anti-anxiety medication as they say I am too young, and eventually I was referred to an online Cognitive Behaviour Therapist. This helped just enough to get me to a stage where I could go and sit my exams, although that wasn't without its problems. I got through it with the support of my old school, who couldn't have been more helpful, and my parents. I get my exam results on 20th August.
Nothing. That's right, absolutely nothing. Unless you can help me?
There is no support in place for a young person with my type of mental illness to be able to attend college, do an apprenticeship or go out to work. Education is free in the UK up until you're 19, but only if you're physically able to get to a college. There are no student loans for studying at home. Sure, sometimes I can go out, with certain members of my family or on my own, but a lot of the time I can't. There's no way of knowing in advance if I'm going to be OK the next day or not, so how could I commit to a mainstream college or job?
What I really want to do is continue my education like other people my age. I want to go back to InterHigh to get my A-levels, and to not be beaten by my anxiety or lack of money. But my funding has come to an end, and I've been turned down for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) hence the need to crowdfund.
I'm looking to raise £4,500. This amount of money is impossible for me to imagine, but I'm hopeful we can do it and change my life for the better.
This would cover:
- 2 years at InterHigh where I would study for 2 A-levels (£1,830 per annum = £3,660)
- The registration fee (£50)
- The fee deposit (£150)
- One-off examination admin fee (£100)
- External examination centre fees
I've never asked for anything as big and important as this before, and trust me when I say that I wouldn't be crowdfunding if I didn't absolutely need to. I've looked into other options, and this is my best and only chance at furthering my education. We're pretty much a one-income family and things are already very tight, so anything you are able to pledge - whether that's £1 or £50 - would be extremely appreciated.
For the reasons above, I know not everyone can pledge, and if that's you then it would be really helpful if you could share the link to this page on Twitter, Facebook and anywhere else you can think of. I'd be so grateful.
You might do!
I used to have my own column called 'Amber Warning' in the Lynn News; I run a multi-award-winning blog and I make weekly videos about books for my YouTube channel. I've even written for the Guardian a few times.
People say my future's bright, but it'll be a lot brighter with these qualifications. Without them, life is going to be even more of a challenge than it is now. Your help would mean the world to me and my family.
P.S. If none of the listed rewards sound like your sort of thing but you still want to pledge, you can just choose the DAISY reward and enter an amount of your choice.