“I’m here to uplift my community so no one feels alone”

After experiencing homelessness and challenges growing up, Lea Gibson is determined to create real change in her community.

She combined her life experiences with her Open University qualifications to start a business that provides support and welfare services to people in need.

“I want to make sure people never feel lonely and have someone to talk to,” said Lea, who is 31 and lives in London. “It’s what I needed when I was younger.”

Bring about positive change

Lea’s passion for helping others stems from her own challenges growing up.

“I grew up in quite a turbulent household and faced many challenges as a youngster. I wanted to help people, so I started my organization called Anthrovision,” she explained.

Lea built her business from the ground up and now offers wellness workshops, homelessness outreach and mentorship services. During the pandemic, she launched “People with Periods,” an inclusive initiative to address menstrual poverty in her area, providing free wellness care packages to those in need.

“We just want to make sure there’s unity in the community,” Lea said. “That there is always someone to support those who need it.

“I try to show that people are not alone, because I know how it feels.”

“It wouldn’t be possible without the UO”

Determined, Lea knew that a degree would not only change her life, but give her the tools to create change in her community. She first signed up to study BA (Hons) Combined Social Sciences with the OU while she was homeless and says the experience and support she received from her guardians helped her start believing in herself.

“I couldn’t have seen my potential without the support of OU,” she said. “The UO has literally changed my life.

“My tutors were absolutely amazing. They gave me tips and tricks on how to study and made sure I had the resources I needed. The student community at OU was also fantastic.

“My advice to anyone considering studying with OU is to do so, give yourself the opportunity to try something new. You are capable of more than you think.

Building trust and a new career

Lea enjoyed her studies so much that she completed her master’s degree in psychology with UO in 2020.

“Everything I learned from my two degrees gave me techniques, skills and theory to put into practice in the real world,” she said.

“The Open University has boosted my confidence a lot and basically given me the skills I need now. It has also given me a boost when I used to apply for jobs before. Open University degrees are globally recognized, so whatever job I’ve had, employers think it’s amazing.

Looking back on her journey so far, Lea is so proud of all she has achieved and says her family is equally thrilled. She says:

“I feel really, really proud of myself. My mom thinks my degree is amazing. She always pushed me to be more and do more and support the community.

Looking ahead, Lea is focused on growing her business so she can continue to support even more people in her community. She knows that without access to education, care or support, so many people can be left behind.

“The main thing for us at Anthro Vision is to make sure those who are invisible are visible again.”

Generation change: those to watch

Lea is one of the amazing OU students featured in “Ones To Watch,” the docuseries co-branded with OU and MTV Generation Change.

In each episode, host Henrie Kwushue meets the OU students who are not only changing their futures, but are busy tackling global issues related to the environment, equality and health. Watch the second episode featuring Lea now on YouTube.

Sam D. Gomez