Brilliant Club

“We became a support network for each other”

19 Jun 2023

Oldham Parent Power chapter moves into fourth year

Rahiela Koser, who has recently moved from chapter member to Community Organiser for Oldham Parent Power, believes she’s in a job “created with her in mind”. Rahiela was part of the initial cohort of parents when the group started in 2019 and is now working for The Brilliant Club in partnership with Trinity College, University of Cambridge and Oldham Council, to run the group of almost 20 Oldham-based parents.

“Parent Power has always had the aim of breaking down barriers to getting young people to university and empower parents with knowledge”, says Rahiela. “Through Parent Power, I get to meet and talk to new people and promote education…it has also helped me find an identity of my own, and allowed me to connect with my aspirations.”

Rahiela, who has completed a PGCE since she has been part of Oldham Parent Power, says much of the early work of the group centred around university understanding and student finance, with trips to universities being one of the most valuable experiences. But the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns had a big impact on the Oldham chapter.

“There was a lot of grief and anxiety in the community and our regular meetings on Zoom brought us closer together – we became a support network for each other”, explains Rahiela. “We were talking about new topics too; home schooling, working online, the digital divide. Now we’re moving out of the pandemic, we know we need to discuss knowledge and strategies around mental health. I am motivated to make sure everyone comes together as a community.”

Last year, parents and carers from Oldham Parent Power, along with their children, were invited to spend the day at Trinity College, where they were given a tour and an information session that ranged from the courses on offer to student finances.

Javed Tariq, who came with daughters Fatimah and Tehreem on the visit to Trinity, said it was a great opportunity to see the College and find out more about Cambridge.

“I have three daughters ready to come to university – they want to explore the courses they want to do, especially mathematics and medicine. It gives them the opportunity to ask questions and see what is offered, so they can make their own choices. They are loving the atmosphere here: it is big, it is historical, plus the reputation is amazing.”

Yaasmin Mughees, another member of Oldham Parent Power who visited Trinity, has fond memories of Cambridge.

“I had family who had a house here. So, from when I was very young, I knew about Cambridge University and my daughters were born here. Of course there are ‘ifs and buts’ are there but if you work hard why not? First you need the grades, then you need the information and the willpower.”

Mrs Mughees came to Trinity with her four children. As a result of the visit, she said her children would be even more determined.

Jimmy Pickering, Director of Communities at The Brilliant Club, said: “Oldham Parent Power is the second longest running Parent Power chapter in the country, and parent leaders remain determined to campaign for the issues they view as essential in breaking down educational barriers. I’m especially thrilled for Rahiela in her move from motivated parent to Community Organiser and I can’t wait to see what comes next.”

The collaboration is part of Trinity’s Outreach programme and Outreach Coordinator, Amber Silk, said:

“We support programmes for students as young as primary school all the way to their last year at school, and we support parents because we believe that like teachers, parents have an enormous impact on their child’s educational ambitions. If families are empowered by expert knowledge of Higher Education, then children and parents can make informed choices.”

This story first appeared on the Oldham Chronicle website.