A new higher education website for care leavers

by Charlie

It’s not often we get the chance to kick back and celebrate the launch of a new website we’ve built. 

In the heat of a project, with task lists and delivery deadlines to meet, it can be easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.

But when our friends at The Who Cares? Trust invited us to join them for the launch event of Propel - a new higher education website for care leavers - it really hit home just how much this piece of work really mattered. 

 As Dembo - a care leaver - who spoke at the event said,

‘I believe that had Propel existed when I was doing my A-levels, I would have realised the possibility of studying at the Open University. If I had the information about support to study at university, I would have completed 4 years of my degree by now.’

Dembo_ WCT

Dembo with a 'Propel' paper plane - part of the brand identity we created for the new website. 

At its core, Propel is a searchable directory of educational institutions’ pastoral and financial provision for care leavers.  One of the clever things about the search (we think) is that it allows visitors to free type by course or location, without having to pick a category first.  The search is powered by data gathered from Unistats and The Who Cares? Trust. Both data sources have been built into the Umbraco CMS, doing away with the need for a separate database.

Propel invites care leavers to compare the support offered by different universities and further education colleges, including the availability of 365 day accommodation, additional financial support on offer and whether the institution has a member of staff responsible for supporting care leavers.  It’s the most comprehensive resource of its kind in the UK.

But it’s so much more than a directory. 

A key part of the brief was that Propel should help inspire young people from care backgrounds into higher education and help them make an informed choice about what and where to study.  (Many young people study close to home above simply because it’s easier for their local authorities to manage, and end up dropping out). 

This meant introducing ways for prospective students to discover new courses and institutions that they may not have even thought about before visiting Propel. 


Randomised quick links on the homepage encourage visitors to browse courses and institutions.  Inspiring case studies featuring care leavers who are thriving in higher education help reinforce the main message of the site: just because you come from a different background doesn’t mean you should expect any less.

Natasha Finlayson, Chief Executive of The Who Cares? Trust, said:

“We chose to work with Fluent because we felt they really got us and what we were trying to do with this project – and the proof of that is in the fantastic site that the team have built.

Alan_Charlie_Piers WCT

A Fluent team: Charlie, Piers and Alan 

"The website sets out exactly what institutions say they provide for care leavers, enabling young people to factor this into their decision about where to apply.

“But Propel is about so much more than information alone. It seeks first and foremost to inspire and encourage young care leavers.  With Propel, we’re aiming to put the power back in these young people’s hands and give them the opportunity to see that higher education is within their reach.”

WCT Team

The Who Cares? Trust: putting the power back in young people's hands.