Learning gives Carl a new life focus

Though most of us will suffer some form of hardship in our lives, for Carl Ablott, that hardship reached such levels there were fears it could cost him his life.

Battling addiction and living on the streets, there seemed to be little in the way of a future for Carl. But following a moment of clarity, he decided to get himself clean once and for all.

That was 12 years ago. Since then, Carl has embarked on a journey that most recently saw him presented with a ‘Health and Social Care Star’ award at the 2022 Lancashire Adult Learning awards.

Carl’s turnaround began with volunteering at various recovery support organisations locally, including the Thomas Project in Blackburn and Inspire in Accrington and Burnley.

After four years of exceptional work with Inspire, he was promoted to a national volunteer role and invited to sit on committees within the organisation.

Keen to provide for his 11 year old son, Carl’s attention turned towards paid employment within mental health services. He recognised that enrolling onto a learning programme would enrich his own understanding of personal mental health and was crucial for securing gainful employment.

Not only did Carl achieve that goal, working part-time as he now does for Red Rose Recovery, something within him has been awakened.

Having completed a Level 1 and Level 2 Mental Health course, at Accrington and Rossendale College, Carl is busily studying for his English and Maths Level 2 before he goes on to pursue a Level 3 in Mental Health.

His goal then is to study for a mental health degree at Accrington and Rossendale College.

As a dyslexic, obtaining qualifications in English and Maths will prove a challenge for Carl but his determination knows no bounds and Lancashire Adult Learning has armed him with the skills for interpreting information to develop his writing.

On his remarkable journey, Carl said: “Learning doesn’t come easy to me. I left school with no qualifications and was only diagnosed with dyslexia later in life.

“Had I, and the school been aware that I was dyslexic, things may have worked out differently for me. Instead, I was pretty much written off as being ‘thick’. I’m quite sure this contributed to the downward spiral I found myself trapped in.

“Rather than losing myself to resentment though, all I want to do now is help other people who have also taken wrong turns in life, whatever the reasons. I particularly want to help other addicts see they can break the cycle of addiction.

“Not in a million years did I think this where I’d be now, much less that I’d be winning awards for my learning. I want others to see there is a way back.”

Caren Stewart, Carl’s Health & Social Care Tutor at Lancashire Adult Learning, said: “Carl was great to teach. Though his dyslexia has given him some confidence issues with his written work, he attended every session and was never late.

“Carl is proof that a can-do attitude coupled with positive support really can be life-changing.”

To find out more about the vocational courses available via Lancashire Adult Learning, visit https://www.lal.ac.uk/,  phone 0333 003 1717 or email enquiries.lal@nelsongroup.ac.uk

A discovery of learning leads Andrea to a new life

Having left school with no qualifications, enduring much of her adulthood trapped in a cycle of drug addiction, and then tragically losing her husband to a car accident, the future had looked bleak for Andrea Horrocks.

To say that she has since been on a journey of personal growth would be something of an understatement.

In 2019 and aged 51, following the sad death of her husband, Andrea decided it was time to make some changes and began attending adult community courses with Lancashire Adult Learning (LAL). Her ambition was to gain knowledge, skills, and certificates, so she could fulfil a role as a volunteer within the community. 

Over the next three years, Andrea’s learning expedition with LAL saw her obtain qualifications in Money Management, Basic Life Support, Emergency Paediatric First Aid, Basic Awareness of Food Safety, Essential Digital Skills, Mentorship, and more.

As if this string of qualifications wasn’t impressive enough, Andrea went even further and in 2020 – in the midst of the pandemic – became the Founder and Director of WatchUSgrow, a charitable organisation and outreach hub based in Chorley.

Such has been the success of WatchUSgrow, Andrea has recently received approval to open her own Recovery House in the town, offering support services for adults as they recover from addiction. 

Her stunning efforts were rightly commended at the recent Lancashire Adult Learning annual awards ceremony where she was crowned ‘Community Star & Overall Learner of the Year.

On a whirlwind three years, Andrea said: “The first certificate I ever received in my life was as an adult learner in 2019 with Lancashire Adult Learning, at the age of 51! It proves that it’s never too late to do something meaningful with your life.

“The Recovery House has been my ultimate aspiration and achievement. I was so thrilled to get the approval and it’s now fully established with three residents currently receiving support. 

“I’m also aiming to set up another Recovery House, so watch this space!”

Among its role within the community, WatchUSgrow is now an Outreach Service for Chorley Hospital, where Andrea visits people before their discharge.

She also visits schools and colleges to share her story and continues to support the local community in various ways via the community hub and through training, events, and new projects.

On LAL’s involvement in her remarkable turnaround, Andrea added: “I have learnt to believe in myself and that I can do anything I want if I put my mind to it. 

“I have achieved goals I never thought possible as a recovered addict. It’s been an amazing personal journey from my recovery through to being able to support others.

“LAL’s courses have helped me personally as well as helping to develop my role as Founder and Director at WatchUSgrow. I’m now even co-ordinating regular LAL course delivery myself at the community hub to support others who are on their own recovery journeys. 

“The courses make a huge difference in building confidence, resilience, and in supporting the mental health of myself and those I support. “I would just like to say a big thank you to LAL for their on-going support in providing training for adults within local community settings. The work they do is quite incredible.”

Published book a dream for Sonia

A 10-week Creative Writing course with Lancashire Adult Learning gave Sonia T. Husayn the inspiration and confidence to write and publish her own book.

The 32-year-old, who is an avid reading fan, keen journal writer and occasional poet, decided to give the course a go last year and really enjoyed it.

She said: “I really wanted to gain some new skills and it was interesting to find out more about how to develop characters, editing and critiquing.

“It gave me the confidence to start writing my own children’s book ‘Happy Hijri New Year!’”

The book, aimed at 2 to 5-year-olds, gives an insight into the Islamic New Year, celebrated this year on July 29th/30th.

Sonia said: “I felt there was a need for good quality books to teach both Muslim and non-Muslim children about the traditions of my religion, with beautiful illustrations following a young family going to search for the moon and celebrating the New Year.”

She sourced illustrator Nadia Elzein on social media to depict the celebrations perfectly and now has 300 copies of her self-published book, ready to give out to family, friends and local organisations as well as selling online.

Sonia added: “I’m very proud of my achievements and excited to see what the future might bring. While this year I am just testing my book out on a small audience, I hope to develop my range of books next year with further celebratory events. Who knows where it may lead?”

The book is available to purchase online at www.mydmpublishing.com.

To find out more about the vocational courses available via Lancashire Adult Learning, visit https://www.lal.ac.uk/,  phone 0333 003 1717 or email enquiries.lal@nelsongroup.ac.uk

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