Care Experienced and Estranged Students Community

Are you a care experienced or estranged student? Join our community!

Welcome! This student-led community has been established as a place for fellow CEES members to meet, form connections and offer peer support to one another throughout all of our time in higher education! This'll be a hub for student-organised events, information, and communications where we will be working alongside and also passing on your perspectives to the Student Union where appropriate. Below we’ve got a preliminary set of rules that are open to amendment from all members, and we hope adding them creates a safe and respectful environment that’s safe for all within this community.  We can't wait to meet you and have a great time together!

What is care experience?

Anyone who has been or is currently in care or from a looked after background at any stage of their life, no matter how short, is considered care experienced. This care may have been provided in one of many different settings, such as residential care, foster care, kinship care, or beeing looked after at home with a supervision requirment.

What is estrangement? 

The University defines an estranged student as “someone who no longer has the support of their family due to a breakdown in their relationship which has led to ceased contact. This might mean biological or adoptive parents, or wider family members who have been responsible for supporting a student in the past."

Everyone welcome

Anyone who feels they are care experienced and/or estranged is welcome to join this community, regardless of if you don't meet stricter requirments set out by the University or funding bodies. If you have any questions, please contact Georgia at

This community is different from the support offered to care experienced and estranged students by the University. If you would like to find out more about how the University can support you, please contact Student Wellbeing Services by emailing

Join our Microsoft Teams channel here!


  • By joining this group, we assume by default you are a student who's care-experienced or estranged so we ask that during organised events we refrain from asking one another personal information on the subject to avoid any upset, 

  • We can offer peer support with our experience in higher education as a place to ask and discuss any questions you may have; however, we are not train nor qualified in giving mental health, financial advice, or any other specialised support. Signposting is available though, and we recommend getting in contact with Emma Smail if anything arises ( Emma Smail is the dedicated point of contact for estranged students at Heriot Watt.  Information about support available through the University can be found at This group is run through the Student Union and separate from the formal University support, 

  • If students have any other questions or concerns, this may also be raised with Georgia, the VP of Wellbeing of our Student Union ( 

  • We ask that all members abide by the University's 'Student Discipline Policy and Procedures' handbook and avoid any misconduct (especially in-line with point: (g) Use of offensive or improper language or to behave in an offensive or improper way or display unwanted conduct which, on the grounds of colour, age, disability, ethnic origin, gender, marital status, civil partnership, nationality, race, religion or sexual orientation, has the effect of (i) violating another person’s dignity or (ii) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for students or employees of the University or visitors to the University). 

If anyone has any suggestions to add or discuss with regards to the rules, please do voice these! This is a student-led community and thus we greatly encourage any input. Once again, excited to see you all and have a great time at future events!  

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