Leyla, 19, is about to embark on a degree in history and politics at the University of Cambridge. She’s been living in our Creekside Foyer hostel in Greenwich for the past year and has faced some challenging personal circumstances - but she hasn’t let that hold her back.

After her relationship with her mum broke down and it became impossible to continue living at home, Leyla joined the ranks of London’s ‘hidden homeless’.

“The relationship with my mum was really bad and for a whole year I was living at a friend’s house and sharing a bed with her, “ she says.

“I knew I couldn’t stay living like that long-term. Moving to Creekside Foyer gave me the space and independence that I needed to feel like I had control over my life again.”

Though not particularly academic as a youngster, thanks to encouragement from a school history teacher, Leyla worked hard to get the grades she needed to enter college and complete her A-levels.  But like many people from less advantaged backgrounds, Leyla had never imagined going to university  – much less one of the most prestigious in the country.

“When I was younger, I never saw university in my future,” she says. “ I didn’t see the point of going and didn’t think it was an option for people in my situation anyway.

“It wasn’t until right before the application deadline that I applied to Cambridge. I just thought, ‘What do I have to lose?’”

After a rigorous application process, Leyla was thrilled to be offered a place. Despite some Fresher nerves, she has settled in at campus and is now relishing university life.

“I’ve only just arrived but I love it already. I was really worried that it would be full of snobby people that I didn’t relate to, but I haven’t found this at all…I’m not worried about not fitting in anymore.

“If anyone else is in a similar situation to me and think that opportunities like going to Uni aren’t available to them, I want you to know that if you want something, your circumstances shouldn’t hold you back.

 “It’s important to remember that where you’re from and who/what/where doesn’t define your potential. I am proud of myself for achieving everything that I’ve achieved and overcoming adversity in the process.”

“If anyone else is in a similar situation to me and think that opportunities like going to Uni aren’t available to them, I want you to know that if you want something, your circumstances shouldn’t hold you back.

Leyla now hopes her achievement will inspire others.

She adds: “When I was young, I didn’t understand the value of education but luckily I changed my view and now I have opened up my world to so many more opportunities.

“Life isn’t always easy but I have learnt that the decisions that you make when you’re young have the power to transform your life. “