Learning Changed My Life - Read Maria's Story
Maria provides loving care and support to her granddaughter, Lillie, who has additional support needs. In order to spend some quality time together away from everyday stresses and strains, Maria had ambitions to undertake a course with Lillie, which she believed would also equip them both with new skills, which could be enjoyed at home.
The first course Maria took with HAFLS partner, Community Learning Partnership (CLP) was a course in 3D art. This was part of the National Community Learning Mental Health Research Project (CLMHP). Maria had been suffering with anxiety, and when she saw the course advertised for learners with mild to moderate mental health conditions, she thought it would help her. And it did! Maria learnt valuable new skills, made new friends and went on to enrol on other CLP courses, including beginner’s crochet; felting; art journaling and Holistic Wellbeing Scandi Embroidery.
Maria further benefited from these courses by spending time with her granddaughter, Lillie, who was struggling to fit in at school and to get the right support from education professionals - this lack of support in her education had an impact on Lillie's already fragile confidence.
However the half-term art journalling course gave them the chance to spend time together in a new environment and to share their love of arts and crafts. It gave both of them much-needed respite and the enthusiasm to continue their new-learned skills at home together, which helped ease family pressures.
Maria said: "These courses with CLP have changed my life. I’ve got new friends and confidence and I’ve learned new skills. CLP has helped me to cope with a difficult situation and there’s always the support of everybody there. I don’t know where I’d be if it weren’t for CLP, to be honest. They came into my life at the right time!"
Maria lacked confidence and had huge issues with her anxiety, which staff identified were holding her back. Once she had attended the first course, this helped her to deal with her anxiety as she made friends with others who were grandparents. Although Maria was anxious about coming on the family art journalling course with Lillie, she knew one of the other grandparents also felt daunted about it, so they arranged to meet at the venue to support one another. The fact that Maria didn’t want to let her friend down also helped her overcome her own fears.
For Maria herself, she is now more confident and has developed personal strategies for coping with anxiety, which has allowed her to participate in further courses. She has taken part in a Holistic Wellbeing Scandi Embroidery course and has supported CLP in the week-long exhibition at Hillingdon’s arts & crafts celebration. She has also stepped forward to be a more permanent volunteer for the charity and has progressed on to ASCEND’s 3-day ‘Spirit of Volunteering’ course, where she also gained a level 1 safeguarding qualification.
CLP nominated Maria for a family award in the 2018 HAFLS Achievement Awards ceremony (an award that Maria won), because of the huge impact she’s had on her own family’s learning. Her husband, Richard, has now also taken part in a family art course with Lillie, and they found it to be a very good bonding experience. Maria has even persuaded her daughter, Kelly, to sign up to the Building Better Opportunities (BBO) project, who in turn persuaded her husband!
BBO is a programme run by Hertfordshire Adult and Family Learning Service (HAFLS) and made possible with funding from The Big Lottery and European Social fund. The project aims to help provide skills, employment and finance mentoring at a series of hubs across Hertfordshire. This is done in conjunction with volunteer organisations in the community, such as CLP in South Oxhey. Get in touch with the BBO team to find out more about the project and to speak to the friendly team.
For more information on the wide range of courses run by CLP (tel: 07771 992895), ASCEND or BBO, contact their friendly teams or speak to HAFLS.