Hundreds of people celebrated the achievements of inspirational adult learners from across the region at an awards’ ceremony at Leeds Art Gallery last night (May 17).
Twenty winners in the Yorkshire and Humber Adult Learners’ Week Awards 2012 each overcame personal challenges including illness, redundancy, dyslexia and bullying at school, to return to education. Castleford Community Learning Centre was also honoured for its work in supporting adults back into learning. (Note: a full list of winners is below)
There were 400 entries in regional awards, organised by Involve Yorkshire and Humber, as part of national Adult Learners’ Week. Winners received their awards from acclaimed poet and playwright Rommi Smith, Parliamentary Writer in Residence.
“Getting back into learning turned my life around and I want to do the same for other people”, says Shaun Allison, from Huddersfield, who was named Outstanding Learner of the Year. Shaun, who left school without any qualifications, was a bricklayer for more than 10 years. When the recession hit he needed to think about getting qualified, particularly for literacy.
At Kirklees College he passed literacy and numeracy exams before joining a reading group at Huddersfield Library. Shaun is now the leader of the reading group, and has also completed training with West Yorkshire Probation Service to become a mentor
Amanda Vickers, from Involve, which supports the voluntary and community sector in Yorkshire and the Humber, co-ordinates Adult Learners’ Week in the region. She says: “Against a backdrop of a recession and cuts in public sector spending, Adult Learners’ Week has never been more relevant. All our winners show how education and skills can provide a better quality of life, improve self esteem and enable people to be part of the local economy.
“One of the biggest challenges adult learners face is having self-belief, particularly if they had bad experiences at school. Voluntary and community groups are often the first rung of the ladder – encouraging and supporting people so that they have the confidence to take a more traditional educational course.”
Adult Learners’ Week, set up by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE), is now in its 21st year.