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I, Melissa had my first daughter at 18.

At the time I had my place at university and I was ready to go, excited to study and start this new chapter. I felt all the pressures to continue this journey, of course my pregnancy threw a spanner in the works.

I was still keen to study and was adamant my whole pregnancy I would be going to university. Yet of course when my gorgeous baby arrived I just wanted to be with her. I decided to differ my place and have a year with my baby.

I think in this instance a lot of people presumed I wouldn’t go to university at all and that I would extend my differed place even more. Of course there would’ve been nothing wrong with that. Yet I do believe there is a huge preconception that young or ‘teenage’ mothers amount to nothing and just stay at home claiming benefits.

Yet if a mother in her 30s decided to be a stay at home mum she is doted upon, thus implying the double standards. 

I decided to break the stigma and go to university as planned, my daughter was 1 and she went to nursery around my timetable. My time at university was amazing for me in many ways, I loved my course and the time for me to do something I loved.

I do recognise the fortunate position I was in to be able to do this. I have amazing people around me who have supported me along the way, whether it be emotionally, financially or physically in terms of childcare etc. I would not have been able to do any of it without my people.

Specifically financially, as student finance allow you to claim 80% of your childcare fees back.

This is an amazing accessible scheme that allowed me to study with my daughter in nursery, otherwise it wouldn’t have been possible. However in my situation the nursery required payment on the first of the month, yet the university childcare payments come through 2 weeks later.

For me, if I couldn’t afford the nursery payments at all, then I definitely couldn’t for 2 weeks. However, like I said I am lucky and extremely privileged to have the people around me to support me in those times.

But other young mum’s like myself may not have that support,

this is where the flaw lies.

It is not accessible for mothers, the price of childcare is extraordinary. By talking about these things, I want to make a change and make these amazing opportunities accessible for young mothers. I am now a graduate, mother of 2 and couldn’t be more proud that I stuck at it. I would love for other young mothers to do be able to do the same.