“Talented nurses of the future” are being offered scholarships to pursue a nursing career in mental health and learning disability.

St Andrew’s Healthcare in Northampton, the UK’s largest mental health charity and a provider of specialist care in mental health and learning disability, has launched a new nursing scholarship initiative.

The three-and-a-half-year programme is called ASPIRE Nursing and there are 10 scholarships available. It is aimed at 18-24 year olds who are passionate about a career in nursing and have the drive to attend university, but who do not have the financial support or qualifications needed.

Students will be provided with the equivalent of £9,000 worth of education, paid employment for 18 months and exposure to clinical work. They will also attend university and be given £18,000 per year in financial support while studying. Once they have gained their BSc (Hons) degree, they are guaranteed a staff nurse position at St Andrew’s Healthcare and will benefit from excellent career development and progression opportunities.

Students will join St Andrew’s as Healthcare Assistants, working within clinical settings to gain experience. They will complete a Certificate in Higher Education in their first year, which enables them to transition into the second year of a nursing degree either in mental health or learning disability nursing.

Ged Rogers, Clinical Education Manager at St Andrew’s, said: “This is an amazing opportunity for young people to start a career in mental health or learning disability nursing with a leading mental health charity that offers high-quality holistic services within outstanding facilities.

“With this scholarship, people can earn while learning on the job. It is ideal for those who may not have the A level grades they wanted, or those who missed out on opportunities due to the pandemic.

“Mental health and learning disability nursing are growing areas within healthcare with great career opportunities. We are looking for the talented nurses of the future to bring compassion and enthusiasm and become part of our healthcare teams, delivering brilliant care and helping transform the lives of our patients. We encourage young people who are ambitious and looking for an alternative route into nursing to apply. We will support our students at every step of the way.”

Candidates must have a good GCSE grade in Maths and English (Grade 4 minimum). The closing date for applications is Sunday, August 15, 2021. For more information click here.

The nursing scholarship is an extension of the hugely successful ASPIRE Programme which St Andrew’s Healthcare launched in 2016. It enables healthcare assistants to combine their learning and experience and jump straight into the second year of the University of Northampton’s Mental Health Nursing degree – allowing them to complete a nursing degree in just two years.

Former builder Simon Austin signed up to the ASPIRE programme after he decided to change his career. The 44-year-old, who is about to graduate and start his staff nurse position at St Andrew’s in September, said: “St Andrew’s is a great place to work with excellent facilities. It is very focused on training and helping people to progress. I started out as a healthcare assistant and never intended on becoming a qualified nurse. However, I did various training courses which built up my confidence academically, and then decided to take the next step in my career. It has been a fantastic opportunity for me.

John Barry Waldon has completed the ASPIRE programme and is now a senior staff nurse at St Andrew’s. For John, the programme was a second chance to have a career in nursing. Previously he went to university to study nursing but dropped out age 26 for financial reasons. He worked at St Andrew’s as a healthcare assistant for many years before starting the programme, which he describes as an ‘amazing opportunity’.

As part of his degree, John created a podcast called On the Ward featuring mental health patients. The podcast has attracted over 20,000 listeners and won The Student Nursing Times Awards 2020 for the best Student Innovation in Practice.

Another ASPIRE graduate is Amanda Gardner who qualified as a mental health nurse two and half years ago and now works at St Andrew’s Healthcare.

Amanda says, “After working as a healthcare assistant I was keen to progress my career. I worked alongside nurses at St Andrew’s who inspired and encouraged me to become a nurse. ASPIRE offered the perfect combination of the financial support and pastoral care. As a mature student, with a family to support, I couldn’t have funded myself through university. This was the ideal alternative route into nursing, and I qualified without any student debt or student loan which was a bonus for me.”

To find out about vacancies across Northamptonshire visit http://bestofbothworlds.uk.net/