Lancashire student nominated for national Student of the Year award

Lancashire Adult Learning (LAL) student, Andrea Horrocks, has been shortlisted for the Adult Student of the Year award with the Association of Colleges (AoC). This is a prestigious national award that takes into consideration nominations for students from colleges up and down the country.

The AoC Student of the Year awards highlight exceptional students across four categories and nominees are hand selected by a panel of expert judges.

Andrea’s name was submitted for consideration after she took home the Overall Learner of the Year award, as well as the Community Star award at last June’s Star Awards ceremony. 

Her personal story of addiction, recovery and continued growth through learning – on top of her outstanding achievements, have resulted in her being highlighted for a number of accolades, culminating in the AoC Adult Student of the Year 2022.

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, there was a time when the future had looked bleak for Andrea.

Since then, however, she has pushed herself to undertake a journey of personal growth and academic development which has helped her turn her life around. Starting in 2019, Andrea began attending courses with LAL, with an ambition to gain a range of knowledge, skills, and qualifications, so she could fulfil a role as a volunteer within the community.

Over the next three years, Andrea obtained qualifications in Money Management, Basic Life Support, Emergency Paediatric First Aid, Basic Awareness of Food Safety, Essential Digital Skills, Mentorship, and more. 

In 2020 – amid the pandemic – Andrea also became the founder and director of WatchUSgrow, a charitable organisation and outreach hub in Chorley.

The success of this venture has led to her recently receiving approval to open her own recovery house in the town, offering support services for adults through their addiction recovery journey.

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!”

The Assistant Principal for Adult Learning with Nelson and Colne College Group, of which LAL is a part of, Andy Parkin said; “We are absolutely thrilled with Andrea and all the hard work and dedication she has displayed over the last three years.

“Her achievements are a testament not only to her resilience and strength of character but also to her passion and selfless enthusiasm for giving back and helping others. She is more than deserving of all the accolades that come her way and we couldn’t be prouder of her!”

This nomination comes on the back of LAL being awarded an Ofsted Outstanding rating back in March ’22 for providing educational excellence. When asked about being nominated for a national award, Andrea said; “I’m totally over the moon about being nominated as this is a totally new experience for me.

“I never believed in myself before, but LAL has given me so much self-confidence and has been massively supportive in the development of watchUsGrow. I’m truly grateful for everything they do.”

The winner of the Adult Student of the Year award will be announced at the AoC annual conference later this month and, if successful, Andrea will then be invited to attend an awards celebration event in London in Spring 2023.

Lancashire Adult Learning are Raising Aspirations across Lancashire

Another successful Raising Aspirations event took place in Brierfield this month providing attendees with a variety of resources, connections and opportunities to increase their employability, financial situations and all-around well-being.

The event, which took place at Brierfield’s Leisure Box, saw employers from across Lancashire setting up stands to interact directly with out-of-work attendees, or just those who have simply upskilled and were looking for a change of career.

Despite all this, Raising Aspirations is far from being another run-of-the-mill job fair. Lancashire Adult Learning organised and tailored the event towards improving the well-being of attendees in a number of ways. For instance, staff from Bupa were in attendance in order to administer free health checks, ensuring that everyone was fit to enter the workforce. If there were any problems with, for example, blood pressure – then they prescribed methods to reduce that to get those who needed it healthy and work-fit as soon as possible.

In addition, debt managers and financial advisors were on hand to assist anyone who had found themselves under the pressure of economic hard times – a burden with which people within our community are all too familiar in recent years. Other charity organisations were set up and ready to assist in a variety of ways, such as MPT (More Positive Together), who provide a number of services tailored towards improving job prospects for those who may need it. This includes providing free suits for interviews, developing new skills through training and generally increasing the confidence of all who utilise their service.

Once those in attendance are confident and ready to enter the workplace, then Raising Aspirations has them covered with a plethora of local employers on hand to provide information on job roles, invite candidates to interviews and even offer roles/positions on the day. Employers in attendance included; McDonalds, the Police Force, Wellocks, BT, 360 Health Care, Nelson and Cone College Group and Lancashire County Council – all of whom had meaningful interactions with potential candidates.

A total of 42 jobs were offered and 145 follow-ups arranged. The success of events like these can positively impact the lives of those affected for the better and as a college group, we look forward to seeing the sustained success of events like these in the future. Raising Aspirations will be back in the new year, so keep your eyes peeled on our events page for more info when it is published: https://www.lal.ac.uk/news-and-events/our-events/

Take a FREE 15 min course and learn how to save a life – Restart a Heart 2022

In aid of Restart a Heart Day 2022 (Sunday, 16th October), Lancashire Adult Learning (LAL) are teaming up with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) in order to provide free CPR courses across Lancashire.

Members of the public will once again have the opportunity to attend drop-in classes teaching important, life-saving skills, such as; CPR, defibrillator use and heart issue detection. This will make a change from last year’s event which had to take place virtually, via Zoom, due to the lockdown restrictions.

The aim of the Restart a Heart initiative, according to the BHF, is to “help raise awareness of cardiac arrest and give everyday people life-saving skills and the confidence to use them.” 

The nationwide initiative is being promoted in the wake of rising cardiac fatalities in the UK. The BHF suggest that having as many confident deliverers of CPR in the family home as possible can be vital to preventing family heartache, both figuratively and literally.

“Approximately 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen every year in the UK. Sadly, less than 1 in 10 people survive these cardiac arrests. Performing CPR can more than double the chances of survival in some cases” states the BHF.

Drop-in centres, provided by LAL, will be based across Lancashire and are open at the following times for those interested in gaining vital CPR skills:

The Waterside Centre, Accrington; Friday 14th October, 9:30am – 12pm

St Mary’s Community Centre, Leyland; Thursday 20th October, 10:30am – 2:30pm

The Cornerstone, Sulyard Street, Lancaster; Tuesday 18th October, 1:00pm – 3:00pm

No pre-sign-up is required for these classes, and they are available to anyone over the age of nineteen, so feel free to turn up on the day. A representative from LAL said; “Mention to your friends and family, as adults you’ll never know when you’ll need CPR. It is much better to have these skills and not need them than need them and not have them”.

Furthermore, the Curriculum Leader for Health and Social Care with LAL, Deborah Ormandy, said; “Learning how to save a life is easier than ever, whether you’ve learnt CPR before, or it is your first time, our drop-in sessions provide an opportunity to gain the skills and confidence to help if someone collapses and stops breathing normally.

“Just 15 minutes of your time can equip you with the confidence and skills to save a life!”

For more information on the Restart a Heart initiative and for further information and support on heart-related health issues, please visit the British Heart Foundation website. To find out more about free courses and offers from LAL then visit https://www.lal.ac.uk/news-and-events/our-events/.

Local college project aims to get people back into Lancashire’s libraries

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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