My name is Roy and I desperately need your help, so thank you for looking at my crowd funding page and watching this video.
This is my story.
I was born in Hackney, East London and grew up in the notorious Holly Street Estate, a no-go area that was eventually demolished due the high crime rate, dilapidation and abject poverty. It was a sink estate.
My mum struggled as a single mother to raise myself and my two siblings. For secondary school I went to Homerton College of Technology, a failing boys’ school which was subsequently closed down due to incredibly low attainment, gangs and violence.
Then, in 2004, my mum's mental health deteriorated and when I was just 16 she stopped talking to me completely and then at 17 she threw me out, leaving me to fend for myself and we have been estranged since then. I was homeless for a while, sleeping on friends floors and then housed in a succession of hostels, some really bad, before ending up in The Brentwood Foyer in Brentwood Essex. A year later, I was one of few people - due to being trouble free, paying rent on time, working and going to sixth form - to be put forward for a ‘moving on’ flat, and this is where I live now. Nonetheless I kept going to Sixth Form College in West London throughout all of this and got some A Levels.
I was the first in my family to go to university and was accepted at The University of Southampton to read Sociology and Social Policy. I really enjoyed it but the pressures of finance, and commuting from Essex to Southampton every day and then paying to live there just took its toll and I left after my first year.
In 2010 I was lucky enough to receive an offer to go to Brunel University as a mature student, and in spite of my daily commute of 5 hours and working full-time to keep myself throughout my undergraduate years I got a 2:1 in Anthropology and Sociology.
A year later the London School of Economics accepted me for a Master of Science degree in Gender Studies. I was having to work 50-60 hours a week just to keep myself and pay my rent as well as studying. Somehow I managed to graduate with a Merit but when I told my tutors that I had worked full time throughout the degree they were stunned. In fact it turned out I was the only one who had done this, and they said to me that had I been able to study full time I would certainly have got a distinction.
During my studies at the LSE I found my destiny…. to become an Academic Anthropologist so that I can do academic work on the issues confronting members of the black community in Britain. To do this though, it quickly became clear that my studies so far were not enough, but in March 2017 it looked like it may all come true when Oxford University accepted me to do an MSc in Social Anthropology. The idea that someone like me with my background could end up at Oxford was amazing.
However, that’s where my luck ran out. Ever since Oxford accepted me I have struggled to raise the money they say I must have in place before they will admit me completely (through the financial declaration form). When I didn’t have the money last year they agreed, luckily, to defer my entry till 2018. I have now found out that I am no longer entitled to the loan of £10,000 as stated before, due to already having a postgraduate degree. So that still leaves me £7,000 short of the minimum total Oxford insist on to cover the fees, my rent and food… so I am still as far away as ever from my goal, even though I have applied for endless loans, grants and scholarships for which I have unfortunately been turned down. This is why I am now continuing to ask for your help.
Last year whist working as a shelf stacker in Waitrose as a second job, a customer overheard me talking to a colleague about my plight: that I had been accepted to Oxford for a post graduate degree but probably would never be able to take up the offer. He said he didn’t have the money himself to help me but he suggested I try crowd funding as a last resort. So that’s how I come to be making this appeal to you now.
I know this £30,000 is a huge sum of money to raise but I hope you might be prepared to invest in me so that I in turn can give something back to the community in years to come. Throughout my life, as you have heard, I have struggled against many odds, being homeless, having my mum disown me, being wrongfully convicted of neglect, because I apparently did not call an ambulance on time for a client, navigating the world as a gay black man, being viciously mugged, not finishing university, failing my A-levels, all because I have had to maintain full time employment so I can support myself and run a home. I have done this by myself, and having to move outside of London and commute long journeys daily has been difficult and expensive. Despite this, to the best of my ability, I have persevered so as to not let circumstances beat me, but now I feel nearly beaten and this is probably my last chance to put myself on the road to my dream.
Those of you who have visited this page previously, and who may even have contributed so generously, will notice that my original target has increased. This is because I have now been informed that the government loan I was previously promised has been withdrawn because I already have a post graduate degree. I am incredibly moved by the generosity of so many people and I hate to be asking for so much money but I can assure you all that I will try to repay your faith in me by giving something back to society as an academic one day. I would also like hopefully to reassure you that in addition to the generous donations I have received from so many people from all walks of life, I have also had all kinds of helpful advice and support from university academics from Oxford and other Oxbridge colleges, as well as people in the media, journalism and other fields, and it is partly on their suggestion that I am raising my target.
Any help you can give me would be so much appreciated. If I do succeed I hope you will join me in Oxford next year at my graduation