Latest News

Drive To Boost Functional Skills Maths Qualifications Across County

FS Maths

HAFLS has had a focus this Spring on signing up Herts residents to intensive 13 week maths courses, designed to equip them with Functional Skills maths qualifications, which is equivalent to a GCSE.

This coincides with the news 'that British businesses are being urged to do more to tackle deficient numeracy skills among their employees, as the cost to the economy tops £26bn. (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2019/04/17/businesses-told-help-staff-brush-numeracy/)

Government data, analysed by charity National Numeracy, suggests that 17 million adults – 49pc of the working-age population of England – have the numeracy level expected of primary school children.

This is costing the UK economy around 1.3pc of GDP, claims Pro Bono Economics, which in 2018 equated to £26.3bn.'

Assessment sessions have been held in three locations where adults aged 19 and over have been able to drop in and find out if they are suitable to enrol on the 13 week courses, which require full attendance and additional homework in order to make the grade.

As an ongoing concern, with the courses due to start at the end of April, we look forward to publishing more on this story and the learners' successes in the summer issue of HAFLS Share.

In the meantime, if you have a workforce or individual that you feel needs help with their maths skills, please get in contact with us to discuss on 01992 556194.

September Courses in the Pipeline!


As we enter the summer term, preparations are firmly underway to finalise the course offer for September.

We've had a fantastic academic year so far with our 'Becoming a Classroom Helper' courses and quilting/sewing courses being fully booked within days of being announced.

Planned course highlights include Festive Creative Crafts, Scrapbooking, Quilting, Resilience and a range of courses designed to help in the path to employment.

In the next issue of HAFLS Share, we look forward to sharing the finalised timetable.

BBO Celebratory Event and Adult Achievement Awards Preparations Ramp Up

As we roll into the summer term, we're eagerly preparing to celebrate the achievements of participants on our BBO project and learners from HAFLS courses, run both directly and via our partners and providers.

On the 15th May at Knebworth Barns, participants, mentors, tutors, partners, volunteers and important members of the community will come together to celebrate the achievements of the second year of the BBO project.

Building Better Opportunities funding supports projects in England that tackle poverty and promote social inclusion. It is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund.

The below video from last year offers an insight into the event and we can't wait to hear from this year's participants.

Meanwhile, nominations are flooding in from tutors for the annual HAFLS celebratory Adult Achievement Awards, held at Hatfield House.

Last year, at the 2018 awards, many of the learners had successfully completed courses under difficult and challenging circumstances. Among the people whose work were celebrated at the 2018 awards were learners who completed courses in English, maths, health and wellbeing or skills for work.
Winner of the ‘Overcoming Challenges’ award, Miguel Almeida,45, from Watford, successfully completed the ‘Boost your confidence’ course while coping with a debilitating medical condition. He said “Before the course I wasn’t in a great place. I was unemployed, depressed and really struggling with my condition. My wife found out about the course, while looking for something to build my confidence and get me back into work."

Winner of the Progression Award was a single mum with five children who completed the `Employability course’, Katie Waites from Hemel Hempstead.
Katie’s tutor said, “As soon as Katie stepped into the classroom you could tell she felt happy and comfortable and it was wonderful to watch her grow in confidence.”
After the course Katie secured a part-time role with a travel company which she really enjoys. She has also joined the Open University studying sociology with a view to getting a degree in psychology and criminology and ultimately becoming a forensic psychologist.

As the above video shows, Hatfield House was a truly magnificent backdrop against which to celebrate learner achievements and we look forward to celebrating again on June 26th.

Herts Steering Group Formed To Tackle Loneliness

Head of HAFLS, Chantal Lommel has stepped up to Chair a Hertfordshire steering group, which aims to pull together a Hertfordshire-wide strategy on tackling loneliness.

The steering group  has members from key organisations including  Public Health, Age UK Herts, University of Hertfordshire and CVS along with Dr Marie-Anne Essam, a champion of social prescribing

The steering group has been formed in response to the Government's strategy, ‘A connected society: a strategy for tackling loneliness - laying the foundations for change’, published on 15 October 2018 which is the first strategy for tackling loneliness in England. It marks a shift in the way we see and act on loneliness, both within government and across society. It builds on years of work carried out by many individuals and organisations, and acts as government’s first major contribution to the national conversation on loneliness and the importance of social connections. This strategy is an important first step, but the  government is also committed to long-lasting action to tackle the problem of loneliness. (https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/governments-work-on-tackling-loneliness)

To give some context to this important issue affecting society the " loneliness can kill" report statistics show;

  • 76% of GP’s report 1-5 patients per day have chronic loneliness
  • Cost to NHS £12,000 per person per year
  • Equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes per day
  • Higher risk of heart disease, strokes, depression, dementia and suicide
  • 2-5 times more likely to die prematurely than those with strong social ties

Age UK have developed a 'heat map' of loneliness where you can see how 'lonely' people are in your local community. (http://data.ageuk.org.uk/loneliness-maps/england-2016/) This certainly helps to give a visual representation of a problem affecting people of all ages, backgrounds and family sizes, across both our county and country-wide.

As an organisation set up to provide adult learning in the community, for the community, with the community, HAFLS is keen to help tackle loneliness wherever possible.While we appreciate that we will not solve the issue of loneliness, we hope that we can go someway to help avoid it becoming corrosive and damaging to peoples' lives.

The group will meet regularly over the forthcoming months, and we look forward to bringing you an update on their work in future issues of HAFLS Share.

Government updates

#AdultEducation100 Campaign Under Way


HAFLS is supporting the new #AdultEducation100 campaign which marks 100 years since the Ministry of Reconstruction – created towards the end of the First World War – published its ‘Report on Adult Education’ and argued lifelong education was vital for the future of the country.

Most subscribers to HAFLS Share are probably aware of the alarmingly frequent and increasingly depressing articles surrounding the continued cuts to funding for adult learning.

As highlighted in Laura McInerney's hard-hitting article for The Guardian (A century of adult education has been tossed aside – is it too late to rescue it?), thankfully, a new centenary commission, led by the Co-operative College, the Workers’ Educational Association, and the Universities of Oxford and Nottingham, has been formed to find solutions. It will report back in November.

Here at HAFLS, we eagerly await the proposals from the commission. With the current economical uncertainty, we are always looking into how we can continue to offer affordable education to the people who need it most. We are forever grateful to all our partners, providers, funders, volunteers, tutors and staff who make what we do possible - without them, we wouldn't exist.

If you are interested in working with us, whether you are a small charity with big ambitions or an individual with a skill you want to share, we want to hear from you! Call us on 01992 556194 and we'd be happy to discuss.

PREVENT - An Alternative Far-Right Focus


Part of the Government's Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015 contains a duty on specified authorities to have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.

The most significant threats are currently those associated with organisations such as IS in Syria and Iraq, and Al Qaida associated groups. However, extremism associated with the far right also poses a continued threat and it is important to look for potential signs of extremism, particularly in the current climate regarding Brexit. As the recent complaints over Jon Snow's comments on a pro-Brexit rally (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-47774564) show, tensions are high and we must be aware of the Far Right groups in existence, particularly on social media sites.

Cleverly, memes and other posts are unwittingly shared by people without recognising that there is a credit at the bottom of the photos which links to an extremist group. On the face of it, light-hearted posts echoing the views of many Britons harbour a much darker, menacing message that many fail to see. Thus, the name of the group is spread further and a Far Right group may gain a few more followers.

As this Guardian article explains, the Far Right terrorists are seen to be one step ahead of police and it is important we remain vigilant as we welcome new learners into our classrooms to ensure that we can help anyone that may be subjected to extreme ideological views.

As an organisation who come into daily contact with vulnerable people, the HAFLS team have all undergone Prevent training to help recognise the signs of extremism. If you come across any information or a situation that concerns you please report it to prevent@herts.pnn.police.uk

Hear from our learners

Learner Success Story - A 'Life Hacks for Healthy Living' learner


Name: Martin Norman

What was the name of the course you did?

Life Hacks for Healthy Living

What did you like best about the course you did?

 It’s reinvigorated my enthusiasm to look past my disabilities and in line with my counselling and great assistance from my doctor, to concentrate on what I can do, not just for myself and my family but also for my community. I think this community is fantastic, very friendly with lovely people and I’d do anything to help anybody here as people have helped me.

What have you learnt about yourself as a person since doing the course?

That my disabilities don’t necessarily have to be a barrier to the kind of things that I’d like to achieve as I progress through life. Obviously I have a life-changing medical condition that 30 years ago people would have laughed at and said wasn’t a thing. Instead, one has to cope with the card they’ve been dealt and this really makes a difference to my positive thoughts to carry on with what I’m doing.

What would be your advice to any person considering a HAFLS course?

 I strongly recommend it. It’s certainly lifted me out of a brief period of depression and despair because of additional pain. The lady who has been teaching – her enthusiasm and passion is infectious – she’s a fantastic teacher.

 The course that Martin enrolled in is called Life Hacks for Healthy Living. During the course, learners are able to improve their health with some key 'life hacks'. Each week includes new recipes to try at home, light exercise and exploration of the government’s ‘5 Ways to Wellbeing’ initiative, with a focus on being active and good nutrition. To browse our range of wellbeing courses, click here.

BBO Mile Participant Begins New Career Journey

Truck driver

We had some very exciting news from the BBO project as one of our Mile Participants, Alex, starts her journey as an HGV driver.

Our Mile Mentor Mike has been supporting his Participant Alex in career change and job searching.  Alex would like to be an HGV driver and will need to complete the relevant training for Class 2.  To support Alex in her knowledge and understanding of being a lady HGV driver we were able to gain the support of a local haulage company, Gregory and Davis Transport Ltd and their lady Class 1 driver Sharni.  Sharni spent 3 hours with Alex explaining what was involved and also took her to the haulage yard to see all the different size vehicles.  Gregory & Davis also made it possible for Sharni to take Alex out in her 7.5 tonne rig.  Alex is very excited to be starting her training in May this year and has already begun job searching and looking at potential employers. 

A big Thank You to Sharni and Gregory and Davies Transport Ltd.  This opportunity was made possible by the funding provided by ESF and the Community Fund.

Logo BBO

Carers in Herts iPads and Tablets Intermediate Course Defies 'Digital Divide'

Carers in Herts IPad Course

We were thrilled to receive this photo from our tutor, Evelyn at her Intermediate iPads & Tablets course, run via our partner, Carers in Herts. This course ended last week and the learners are shown here with their certificates of completion. This photo was welcomed by the HAFLS team following the worrying headlines from the latest ONS Digital Divide report.

  •  5.3 million adults in the UK, or 10.0% of the adult UK population have either never used the internet or have not used it in the last three months. Since 2011 this number has almost halved, but remains significant.
  • The 5 basic digital skills used to measure digital inclusion in the report were:
    • managing information: using a search engine to look for information, finding a website visited before or downloading or saving a photo found online
    • communicating: sending a personal message via email or online messaging service or carefully making comments and sharing information online.
    • transacting: buying items or services from a website or buying and installing apps on a device.
    • problem solving: verifying sources of information online or solving a problem with a device or digital service using online help.
    • creating: completing online application forms including personal details or creating something new from existing online images, music or video.
  • It’s estimated that 8% of people in the UK (4.3 million people) have zero basic digital skills (unable to do any of the activities described in the five basic digital skills).
  • 12% (6.4 million adults) are estimated to only have limited abilities online (missing at least one of the basic digital skills).
  • Top 5 online activities are:
    • sending/receiving emails
    • finding information about goods or services
    • internet banking
    • social networking
    • watching videos on YouTube or similar
  • 40% of online respondents indicate that being online helps them feel less alone – this is felt even more strongly among disabled people
  • London has the lowest proportion of internet non-users (7.0%) while Northern Ireland continues to have the highest proportion (14.2%), followed by the North East of England (12.1%).
  • Women consistently make up over half of internet non-users (58%) (3.1 million), although the overall number has declined over time
  • 12% of people aged between 11 and 18 years (700,000) report having no internet access from a computer or tablet, while a further 60,000 report having no home internet access at all.
  • An increasing proportion of internet non-users are over the age of 65 years
  • Fewer adults report accessing the internet “on the go” in older age groups
  • Across all age groups, a large proportion of adult internet non-users are disabled. Though the percentage of disabled adults not using the internet has been declining, in 2018 it was 23.3% compared with only 6.0% of those without a disability.
  • The ethnicity gap in internet usage has narrowed over time as the proportion of internet non-users has declined
  • Among those of working age, the economically inactive are the most likely to be internet non-users
  • The percentage of households with an internet connection increases with income
  • People who live alone are less likely to have an internet connection at home
  • Barriers to digital inclusion:

-  perceived lack of need

-  lack of skills

-  able to access net elsewhere

-  equipment/subscription costs

-  privacy/security concerns

-  physical or sensorial disability

  • Lack of skills reported by many older people who express the feeling that it is simply too late in life for them to start learning digital skills, saying that since they have always managed perfectly well without a computer or internet access, they see no reason to start now. Suggests they may not realise the benefits of being online, but may also reflect that they consider the benefits insufficient to justify the effort.
  • The barriers to digital inclusion suggest part of the education for digital skills may need to start by highlighting the benefits of being online and overcoming any apprehension to engagement.

HAFLS offer a wide range of courses designed to improve ICT skills, for all ages and all abilities. Browse our ICT courses here.

‘I Was Sceptical…Boy I Was So Wrong’- Poetry Helping To Heal

Learners have just completed a Creative Writing course, run via The Living Room in Stevenage, a recovery centre for people with a range of addictions.

The resulting book of poetry written by the learners has provided an emotive insight into the feelings of the learners as they battle their addictions.

As one of the learners summarised, “I was sceptical as in the past I never thought this type of thing was for me. Boy I was so wrong! I loved expressing my feelings in a poem”.

With such incredible pieces of work, we look forward to sharing more poetry soon but in the meantime, here is one of the poems, written by Bobby.


The silence is refreshing

            …but, it still leaves me wanting

So much love and forgiving

            …but, I am not in the land of the living

I need to stand with the people, laughing

            …but, who am I kidding, you must be joking

Together we will survive, keep on fighting, you know it is so uniting

            …but, all I want is the white powder lining

Breath in the fresh, your head needs clearing

            …but, all I can think of… where is my rizla for rolling

The stars in the night sky, you gaze at them, so sparkling

…but, I know when I close my eyes, the nightmares start happening

The aroma in the air, of families dining

            …but, all I desire is my bottle for slurping

Children play in the park, their faces are gleaming

            …but, all I can think of is my lifelong beatings

The excitement of the audience, at the theatre queueing

            …but, my own personal drama just keeps on unfolding

A couple on a bench, in love, they are embracing

            …but, all I think of, is my needle for shooting

Kin, by the graveside, all together kneeling

            ….but, I know when I die, there will be no one grieving

Together we stand, holding tight each other’s hand

            ….but, God please help me, I know you will understand


Hear from our partners

Latest Learner Creations Showcased on Social Media

With our social media following ever-increasing, we love to see the works of art being created by learners on courses run by our partners and through our direct delivery courses.

Here are just a tiny selection of the highlights over the past three months, demonstrating the skills and abilities that learners sometimes weren't aware they had!

A set of jewellery designed by learner, Yok-Lan at the January 'Jewellery for Wellbeing' course;


One of the many stunning mosaic designs, created in a course run by Montet Designs, via ASCEND.


A mesmerising piece from a 'Woodland in Stich' course, run via ASCEND.


A celebration of New Beginnings during the last session working with the Building Better Opportunities (BBO) programme at ASCEND.


Jars transformed into tealight holders at a Creative Crafts course, run via Carers in Herts.


A touching tribute from the latest cohort of Study Plus students, thanking HAFLS for their time and teaching efforts.


To browse our courses, please visit our website.

Partner Focus: HACRO's Caring Dad's Programme

Caring Dads

Working as a valued partner on our Building Better Opportunities (BBO) project, HACRO exists for the care and resettlement of offenders as they are released from prison. BBO's Project Strive is the part of the programme which deals with the problems that stop disadvantaged people getting into work. HACRO has a specialist mentor to help ex-offenders get back to work.

Meanwhile, HACRO have a programme, Caring Dads, which is devoted to ensuring the safety and well-being of children by working with fathers who are alleged to have abused or neglected their children or exposed them to abuse of their mothers.

Caring Dads provides a 17-week parenting course for fathers who are in contact with their children or have the expectation of being in contact with them. It is a cognitive behaviour therapy programme for up to 16 fathers and is delivered by trained facilitators with a background in child development or offender management.

This programme is designed to enable men to improve their fathering skills and take responsibility for their children’s welfare and safety.

It is primarily to develop the father’s relationship with the child and mother to reduce the impact on both. It is also to encourage child centred behaviour, reduce conflict in family life and enable men to become better fathers.

The programme uses intervention strategies adapted from motivational interviewing, psycho-educational, cognitive-behavioural and emotion-focused approaches.

Following domestic abuse and family breakdown fathers are often angry, feel victimised and deny, minimise or blame others for their situation. As a result they continue to cause difficulties for their children and their children’s mothers.

In Hertfordshire from April-December 2015 the police received 7,148 non-crime domestic abuse call-outs and 5,838 domestic abuse crime call-outs.

75% of cases of domestic abuse children will have been present either in the room or in the property when domestic abuse has taken place.  It is well established that witnessing the abuse of another, particularly a parent, is emotionally and developmentally damaging to children.

Men who have been abusive in one intimate relationship often go on be abusive in other relationships.  Many such fathers have not had good enough parenting themselves so do not know how to be a positive role model and adopt a child-centred approach to parenting.

Instead they are controlling and respond with anger and aggression to children’s needs and this pattern is repeated as they move from one abusive relationship to another. In turn, their children will not benefit from an appropriate role model, thereby continuing the cycle of abuse unless there is suitable intervention.

The main aims of the course:

  • To increase men’s awareness of child-centred fathering
  • Increase men’s awareness of, and responsibility for, abusive, and neglectful fathering behaviours and their impact on children.
  • To rebuild trust and enable the beginning of healing of the harm caused to their children.

At the end of the course fathers commonly report that they now recognise the harm they have caused to their children, they feel better able to manage their feelings and feel better equipped to support their children in the future.

They also report having an improved relationship with their children’s mother.

Caring Dads is the only programme that deals with alleged perpetrators as parents and partners.

HACRO has been providing Caring Dads courses for six years in Hertfordshire. The Caring Dads Programme offered by HACRO is the only parenting programme for alleged perpetrators of domestic abuse in Hertfordshire.

The great majority of referrals to Caring Dads come from Children’s services, and we only accept fathers onto Caring Dads courses who are positively motivated. There is no charge to course participants who live in Hertfordshire or whose children live in Hertfordshire.

The referral form attached to this page is for use by professionals or those fathers advised by Cafcass to attend, in which case a copy of the court S7 report will be required along with contact details for the CAFCASS officer.

Please contact HACRO if you are interested in attending a course, or to find out more.

Equality & Diversity

Testing the Brain Cells on International Women's Day


The beginning of March saw us recognise and celebrate International Women's Day.

We decided to release a quiz to the HAFLS team to have a go at testing their trivia skills. See whether you knew the answers to the questions!

  1. What was the name of the artist that died in 2018 whose hits included – “Respect” and “I Say a Little Prayer” Aretha Franklin
  2. Who was the first female prime minister? Sirimavo Bandaranaike - Sirimavo Bandaranaike, (born April 17, 1916, Ratnapura, Ceylon [now Sri Lanka]—died October 10, 2000), stateswoman who, upon her party’s victory in the 1960 general election in Ceylon, became the world’s first woman prime minister. She left office in 1965 but returned to serve two more terms (1970–77, 1994–2000) as prime minister. The family she founded with her husband, W.R.D. Bandaranaike, rose to great prominence in Sri Lankan politics.
  3. What is the name of the “material girl” who was married to Guy Ritchie? Madonna
  4. Which woman fought for women’s rights in 1850s America despite being black and born a slave and wrote the speech ‘Ain’t I a Woman’? Sojourner Truth - Ans: Sojourner Truth (1797–1897) was born into slavery but escaped to freedom and became one of the most noted African-American women speakers on issues of civil rights and abolition. The speech contained the following:“Den dat little man in black dar, he say women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wan’t a woman! Whar did your Christ come from?” Rolling thunder couldn’t have stilled that crowd, as did those deep, wonderful tones, as she stood there with outstretched arms and eyes of fire. Raising her voice still louder, she repeated, “Whar did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothin’ to do wid Him.”
  1. Rush and Heat Rush are fragrances endorsed by which female singer? Beyonce

      6. Which all-girl group “told us what they want, what they really, really want”? Spice Girls

      7. Which Country singer has a feminist musical currently showing in the West End? Dolly Parton

      8. Which woman can be credited for being the mother of computers? Ada Lovelace- Despite being one of the many figures in the history of science whose work was only properly appreciated posthumously, today Ada Lovelace (1815–52) is now regarded as one of the most important figures in the early history of the computer. Lovelace is particularly intriguing as, not only was she a woman working during a period when men dominated the fields of science and mathematics, but she also had a unique and farsighted insight into the potential of computers. She met Charles Bubbage in 1833 and he had credited her with the work she did with him, but male scientists were scathing preferring to say that she only helped with publicising his work.

     9. I’ve won four Olympic gold medals for cycling in the last 10 years – who am I? Laura Trott

    10. Who is the most successful female tennis player of all time, in terms of grand slam singles titles wins? Serena Williams

    11. Who was the first African woman to receive the Nobel prize? Wangari Maathai was a Kenyan environmental activist who founded the Green Belt Movement which campaigned for the planting of trees, environmental conversation and women’s rights.  The first woman in East and Central Africa to earn a doctorate degree, Maathai was elected to parliament and appointed assistant minister for Environment and Natural Resources from 2003– 2005.  Her work was internationally recognised when, in 2004, she became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her contribution to sustainable development, peace and democracy

    12. Sarah Story is the most successful British Paralympian of all time with 14 gold medals – what sport does she compete in? Cycling – road and track

    13. British Track and field athlete, Jessica Ennis, was born in which English city? Sheffield

    14. Which woman was named ‘Computer Science Man of the Year”? Grace Hopper - who in 1934, earned her Ph.D. in mathematics, becoming one of the very few women to hold such a degree. She went on to help "develop a compiler that was a precursor to the widely used COBOL language" for computers, and she became a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. She also coined the phrase ‘computer bug’ when moths ate through the cables of the computer system she was developing.

    15. What sport does Trischa Zorn hold the most gold medals at the Paralympics in? Swimming

    16. On average, how many women experienced domestic abuse in the year ending March 2017? 1.2 million

    17. Women farmers control less land than men. What percentage of landholders are women? Less than 20%

 18. Globally, women make up what percentage of parliamentarians.23%

 19. Worldwide, women are paid less than men, in most countries earning ***** on average of men’s wages. (World Bank Gender Data Portal, 201560 - 75%  

HAFLS gears up to support Dementia Action Week

HAFLS is getting ready to support The Alzheimer's Society's Dementia Action Week, running from the 20th to 26th May. 

Almost all of us know someone affected by dementia. But too many people living with dementia report feeling cut off from their community, losing their friendships and facing dementia alone. 

Having dementia shouldn’t mean an isolated life. And it doesn’t have to. Simple actions from us all can create supportive communities - where people living with the condition can continue to socialise with others, hop on the bus, go to their favourite shops or take part in local activities for as long as possible.

We all have a role to play in making the UK a dementia-friendly place to live and that’s what Dementia Action Week is all about. (https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-involved/dementia-action-week)

Tracey's story (https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/blog/how-tracey-helping-sports-clubs-leisure-centres-inclusive-dementia) highlights just how important leisure and exercise can be in improving health and wellbeing, aswell as maintaining a connection with others.

HAFLS's wide range of courses include 'Get Smart, Get Fit' which has a real focus on keeping mobile, both physically and mentally, to improve wellbeing levels.

Don't feel that you're on your own; we're here to support you. Please give us a call whether you are affected by dementia or if you are a carer for someone living with dementia and we can advise on what courses are available to you. Our number is 01992 556194.

Taylorfitch. Bringing Newsletters to life