Jessica and Christopher Berry
Christopher and Jessica’s father, Adrian, was made redundant four times, whilst Christopher was studying BSc Sport and Exercise Science at Cardiff Met University, and Jessica was in full time education.
“Coming from the area where I’m from, when the big financial crash happened in 2008, it was hard,” says Chris. “There was a time where my father would have a job then be made redundant, have a job then be made redundant – it went on like that really. That was when I was just starting university at Cardiff Met, so my dad felt a massive responsibility to support me – but he was struggling so much, he couldn’t.”
“He went to university himself so knew the financial responsibilities that came with it. It was a pleasant experience for me, as we’ve always been such an upbeat and positive family. So to see that disappear was tough. I also felt at the time that if he’s been through university and is still facing these problems, then what hope is there for me?”
Adrian has been an active Freemason since 1987, but he was never aware of the support he was able to receive. Just after being made redundant, he contacted the MCF to apply for small grants for families, and heard back from his Grants Officer who suggested a range of areas in which Christopher could be supported.
“He arranged for someone to come and visit me at the house, and we chatted for about three hours,” says Adrian. “He went through the application forms with me and we did a proper and thorough application together. I went from knowing basically nothing to being an expert on the support in a few hours!”
The MCF was able to offer vital support through both Christopher and Jessica’s education, from important technology devices to grants to help with daily living costs.
“I was given a laptop and printer for my studies as there was a lot of coursework involved. This actually meant I could work independently from home a few days a week, which saved me an hour commute in to uni and back each day. I was also given financial support, so I received an annual scholarship which saw me through my degree then a post grad fee bursary and another scholarship. But I also received a lot of guidance through uni which is something you don’t really think of; I remember taking my support report forms to my personal tutor so they knew exactly what was going on and could report back to the charity. Uni flies by but these check points kept me on track, and helped me to stay focussed on the end goal of getting my degree.” – Christopher
Christopher went on to graduate with a First Class honours in Sports Science and a merit in his masters for Performance Analysing. During his masters he was also doing an internship with the Welsh Rugby Union. By chance, a lecturer at Cardiff University was also employed by the Welsh Rugby Union, so he offered him his PhD, which looks at coach and player feedback relationships.