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Top learners praise courses

Posted onPosted on 25th Jul
Top learners praise courses

An adult learner made homeless 13 times has praised Nottinghamshire County Council’s community courses for giving him renewed hope for the future.

Theodore Pilgrim, 27, pictured, has spent a total of three years of his life living on the streets since first being made homeless as a teenager.

Battling ADHD, Theodore spent time moving or being evicted from hostel to hostel during his teens and early 20s, facing hunger, extreme weather conditions and poverty.

But while staying at a homeless shelter in Sherwood Street, Mansfield, 18 months ago, he took part in an ACLS course called Cooking on a Budget, managed by Nottinghamshire County Council in partnership with Vision West Nottinghamshire College.

Since taking part in that course, he also joined an open access course at Brunt’s School for Oriental Cookery. He is now living in a flat in the town centre and has been there for nine months and is studying for an NVQ Level One Food Preparation and Cooking course at Vision West Nottinghamshire College. His aim is to become a chef.

He said: “I have had some really dark times while homeless – the experience of extreme hunger was probably the worst, but for some reason I was unable to get out of the cycle of being made homeless for years. I really enjoyed taking part in the cookery courses and it has helped to give me new skills and hope for the future.”

Theodore was one of dozens of learners praised at a recent event hosted by Nottinghamshire County Council at Rufford Abbey – the county council’s Adult and Community Learning Service’s annual Awards Ceremony as part of the NIACE National Festival of Learning. The event was attended by County Council Leader Councillor Alan Rhodes and Council Chairman Pauline Allan.

Another award winner was Jodie Wharmsby, 30, from Kirkby in Ashfield. The mother of four took part in a waxing and spray tanning course managed by the county council’s ACLS team in partnership with Sutton College two years ago, and is now offering beauty sessions to clients at Hetty’s charity shop Donate and Dazzle in Main Street, Huthwaite, a charity for which she is also a volunteer mentor.

Councillor John Knight, Committee Chairman for Culture, at Nottinghamshire County Council said: “Theodore and Jodie have achieved so much in such a short space of time and their stories are inspiring. It is great to hear that they have both found the courses managed by our ACLS team have helped them to learn new skills and build their confidence for the future.”

Jodie had initially left school at the age of 15 with no qualifications and her experience of education was hugely dented by a lack of confidence. But while pregnant with her fourth child two years ago, Jodie decided to take up driving lessons and passed her test at the second attempt.

Her new found independence provided the momentum for her to look at further self-development opportunities and she read about the ACLS course in health and beauty from a leaflet through her door.

She has since gone on to study several short courses in the last two years including learning practices around ear piercing, manicures, pedicures and hair extensions and followed this up with securing professional qualifications at beauty salons in some of these course areas.

Jodie said: “The community courses managed by the county council have been wonderful as they have helped me to build my self-confidence and I had a really supportive tutor, Linda Smith. I now enjoy learning and feel I have come such a long way and I would encourage others to look at what opportunities are out there.”

In relation to Theo’s success, Peter Rowley, team leader for adult and community learning at Vision West Nottinghamshire College said: “Theodore is a great example of how far you can advance once you’ve taken that first step and enrolled onto a community course.

“The progress he has made over the past 14 months is exceptional, and proves that if you really want to achieve something for yourself, then previous barriers to learning can be easily overcome; I hope what Theodore has achieved will inspire others to follow his lead.”

Jodie’s tutor Linda Smith, at Sutton Community Academy, in High Pavement, Sutton-in-Ashfield, added: “When I first met Jodie she was very shy and under confident, she brought along members of her family to courses for support until she felt able to come along on her own.

“She had her confidence destroyed and slowly we got her to a better place where she believed she had a talent which she enjoyed. She is now a lovely student who helps others.”