Staff at a North-East university are raising funds to support some of the most vulnerable members of their community; students who have experience of the care system, or are estranged from their families.

The University of Sunderland’s ‘We Care’ initiative is a scheme which nurtures, develops and supports care experienced and estranged students through their university life.

Now the University has launched We Care at Christmas to support those students at their Sunderland and London campuses.

This is the second year running the University has run the scheme, after raising a remarkable £10,310 last year, with over £3,000 of staff donations matched by donors and friends of the University.

University of Sunderland Vice-Chancellor, Sir David Bell KCB DL, is backing the campaign. He says: “Last year, with staff donations and the support of our friends at the Rotary Club and our wonderful philanthropic supporter, Helen McCardle, we raised £10,310. With that money, we made Christmas very special for a great group of students.

“I want us to see if we can match, or even exceed, that amount this year. So, to get us off to a flying start, my wife and I are pledging £500 to the fund.

“For me – and for my colleagues at the University – it is an opportunity to remind our care-experienced and estranged students that they really matter to us and are valued and important members of the University community.”

For many care-experienced students Christmas will be a time they will spend alone, perhaps without a card, gift, festive meal or companionship.

For those students with children, it is a particularly difficult time trying to provide for their children, while making Christmas special.

If you would like to find out more about the appeal go to the We Care at Christmas Go Fund Me page.