Community Learning Fund Bedfordshire and Luton Evaluation Report

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1 Community Learning Fund Bedfordshire and Luton Evaluation Report September 2013 Christopher Cooper Senior Partnership Co-ordinator T: E: The Learning Partnership Calibration House 1 Sunbeam Road Woburn Road Industrial Estate Kempston, MK42 7BZ 1

2 1.0 Overview From January 2012 July 2013 Community Learning Funding for Bedfordshire and Luton supported a number of organisations to deliver learning provision to disadvantaged groups and communities throughout the county. In total 40 organisations tendered for funding across Bedfordshire and Luton. After a process of appraisal the Learning Partnership supported 8 programmes as follows: Mind BLMK - Healthy Aspirations Polish British Integration Centre - MilD (Migrant ID) Family Groups - First Steps to Training Voluntary Community Action - Volunteering for Employment Groundwork Luton and Bedfordshire - Gaining Green Skills through the John Muir Award Bengali Women s Project - First Steps to Learning Relate Bedfordshire and Luton - Parent Mentoring Children s Links Do it 4 U Over the life of the Community Learning funding for the projects collectively delivered: Outputs and outcomes No. of learners Learner enrolments onto a course/programme 209 Learners progressing into training 35 Learners assisted into employment/self-employment 9 Learners progressing into volunteering 22 Learners achieving one or more accredited certificates 54 During feedback and evaluation learners collectively reported the following: About your learning.. % Enjoyed the learning 99% Felt learning at an appropriate level 97% Learning met expectations 98% Learnt the skills as expected 98% Would recommend the learning activity 98% To mark the end of the fund for a number of individual celebration events were held by each provider where learners were presented with their qualifications and/or project awards. 2

3 2.0 Projects 2.1 MIND BLMK Healthy Aspirations Healthy Aspirations delivered 5 courses to 40 individuals across Bedford and Central Bedfordshire. The courses provided a structured opportunity to learn techniques that were designed to support mental health and wellbeing. Each learner gained NOCN Level 2 in Self Development. The project engaged adults experiencing mental health difficulties, with chronic conditions of long term illness. The programme equipped individuals with tools to build skills and assist with individual learning goals. Outputs and outcomes 40 individuals completed the programme. 2 individuals have signed up to attend a volunteer training programme. 1 individual gained employment. Positive feedback received from all learners. Other learners expressed a desire to get back into employment in the future. Learners have access to Information, Advice and Guidance services to help identify skills and work goals. Case Study 1 Healthy Aspirations Learner 1 has been attending wellbeing groups and other learning and wanted to build up his confidence, self-esteem and learn how to manage his wellbeing. He also wanted to make new friends and gain a qualification. Learner 1 faced multiple barriers at the beginning of the course including early start times which he found difficult mixing with other people also initially caused some anxiety. Learner 1 achieved development of interpersonal skills, made new friends and completed all work criteria and has achieved accreditation of NOCN level 2 Certificate in Employability unit Self Development. Learner 1 has improved immensely in confidence and self-esteem; he has achieved his goal to get up earlier and to get his bus. He has made new friends and is engaged in other areas within MIND BLMK. He has taken part in assisting with assessment at Bedfordshire University on OSCI exams for the mental health nursing students. Learner 1 is now an active service user representative and sits on various focus and steering groups. 3

4 2.2 Polish British Integration Centre MilD (Migrant ID) MilD project delivered innovative and cultural workshops with anti-discrimination and E&D themes by creating a strong sense of learner s ownership of the programme. The project delivered 4 themed elements including The Pilgrims, Mi Art, Cultural Training and Cultural Training (delivered by Community Champions). MilD targeted those who were disengaged, unemployed or in low incomes struggling to find their sense of belonging in the local community and those in deprived areas lacking awareness of anti-discrimination and E&D knowledge. Outputs and outcomes A large element of the project was delivered by the community champions identified and trained through the project. 36 individuals developed and improved their language, presentation, research, team and partnership building skills leading to developing roles of community champions. 24 individuals gained knowledge of antidiscrimination and Equality and Diversity and how to apply this in local context. 8 Community Champions were actively involved with life in community and are able to promote aims of the project. 2 Community Champions decided to use their knowledge and experience gained to promote the aims of the project by writing published articles for Beds on Sunday newspaper and web service. 5 of the Community Champions decided to participate in the Polish Forum. 2 Learners gained paid employment. 1 participant started to develop her own catering business, inspired and empowered by the Pilgrims and Cultural Workshops. 3 participants decided to continue their personal development by enrolling on further training. Workshops helped the learners to build self-esteem and self-confidence and reduced feeling of isolation in a community. All learners said that the workshops were very inspiring and that the experience and knowledge gained during the training helped them to better understand the country they had chosen as their new home. Format of interactive workshops instead of lecturing or traditional lessons which build a strong sense of program ownership, and reduced learner isolation. 4

5 Case Study Learner 2 MilD (Migrant ID) Due to learner 2s long term medical condition forcing her from taking on any form of employment, she experienced decreasing connection with the local community which led to low self-esteem and a real lack of self-confidence resulting in complete social isolation. At the MilD initial enrolment meeting and assessment she described her interest as to find out more about the histories of successful migrants and reflect on those stories looking at her own life. Learner 2 wanted to find out what she could do to reduce the feeling of isolation and how to use her skills to do this. Learner 2 described herself as a person who couldn t do or offer much due to her current illness. Her main barriers initially were low self-confidence, self-esteem and limited English language skills. Learner 2s participation in the project resulted with her having increased selfesteem and self-confidence as well has having an active involvement in community life. Learner 2 has started to act as a Community Champion taking part in partner projects and activities such as Refugee Week and the Polish Forum. Learner 2 has established her own local connections, with the Polish internet portal started actively promoting the project aims and activities by writing articles addressed to the community. Learner 2 volunteered to deliver elements of the cultural workshops on Equality and Diversity and antidiscrimination to new learners, using her new found knowledge and presentation skills gained through the project. Learner 2 continues writing articles, participates in the Polish Forum and is looking to start volunteering work with English organisations to help develop her language skills and build her confidence gaining some valuable work experience when she s able to re-enter the labour market. 5

6 2.3 Voluntary and Community Action South Bedfordshire - Volunteering Pathway to Employment Volunteering Pathway to Employment delivered Your Pathway to Employment sessions for people who were unemployed and seeking to enhance their employability through attendance on workshops. Where required learners received Information, Advice and Guidance and a 2 hour workshop where they explored the possibilities of volunteering. Outputs and outcomes: Strong partnership links established across Bedfordshire and Luton with a wide range of agencies involved in promoting the project. 30 learners attended the Volunteering Pathway to Employment workshop. 28 learners stated they had been able to consider what volunteering is, why people volunteer and the benefits of volunteering. 24 learners stated they had been able to reflect on your own and others volunteering experiences. 24 learners stated they had been able to identify their own skills, knowledge and motivations for volunteering 20 learners stated they had been able to learn how to identify a suitable volunteering role. 23 learners stated they had been able to obtain details of how to contact other relevant services. Case Study Learner 3 Volunteering Pathway to Employment Learner 3, a 20-year old unemployed man heard about the project through a local work club. He came to the work club to see if volunteering could help him get back into work. At that time he did not know what kind of work he wanted to do. Learner 3 lacked confidence, direction and experience. As a result of attending the workshop, he identified that he would like to be in a customer service role, preferably in retail. He made an appointment with a volunteering adviser and consequently started a voluntary role at a local shop where he had the opportunity to experience a variety of roles. He felt that his confidence grew as a result. Learner 3 has since applied for several paid positions in retail and was successful with his most recent application. Samuel has just started work at a retail outlet in Bletchley. 6

7 2.4 Groundwork Bedfordshire & Luton Gaining Green Skills through the John Muir Award Participants on the Gaining Green Skills award and who were experiencing mild to moderate health problems increased their confidence and skills through exploring and helping to conserve some of Luton s flagship parks, combined with self-development training to help them feel ready for work or further education as appropriate. Participants worked towards and gained the John Muir Award which celebrates informal learning outdoors. Outputs and outcomes: 9 learners enrolled and completed the John Muir Award. All learners completed action plans to help prepare for return to employment and/or education. More than 75% of learners reported improved skills and confidence. Positive feedback from learners was received: I wish it was longer, I don t want it to end, I never knew Luton had so much wildlife and I feel more relaxed in a group. Effective links to Information, Advice and Guidance to support learners post programme and help to form an action plan to enable learners to work towards their individual goals. Case Study Learner 4 Gaining Green Skills through the John Muir Award Learner 4 has always been interested in things like bird watching, insects and plants. Learner 4 wanted to learn more about nature and was keen to do more walking. Learner 4 has epilepsy and severe arthritis and these health conditions are a barrier to finding work and simply going for a walk on her own. Learner 4 developed a particular interest in bird watching and completed a journal of birds with sketches and text about a number of difference species. She has said that she felt happier with herself now than she did when she started the course. Learner 4 reported that the course has given her another interest i.e. bird watching. She feels better about herself and feels more relaxed around other people. Undertaking the course has given her more confidence and she is interested in finding out about other courses and finding some part time work with some assistance through careers guidance. 7

8 2.5 Family Groups Bedford First Steps to Training First Steps to Training in the Community delivered non accredited training supporting individuals who were interested in taking the first steps to becoming community learning champions. The project looked at the skills of the individuals and built on those skills to assist with the delivery of informal workshops and soft skills training in the community. Outputs and outcomes Recruited above profile. 3 learners progressed into paid employment. 5 learners are regularly volunteering. 13 learners have signed up for further education. Strong alignment to Information, Advice and Guidance services where learners were offered learning and work support. Recruited learners from a variety of wards and areas of deprivation. Learners were supported who had multiple barriers to gaining employment including low confidence and self-esteem, learning and physical disabilities, long term unemployed, single parents, mental health difficulties and English as a second language. Case Study Learner 5 First Steps to Training Learner 5 joined the course as she had been out of work for many years due to suffering from mental health issues. Learner 5 had low confidence and self-esteem and found it difficult to engage with others. Her objectives for joining the course were to increase her self-confidence and improve her planning. Learner 5 attended the First Steps to Training programme and gained new skills and knowledge in relation to training. She improved her confidence and social interaction with others. Learner 5 volunteered to deliver a workshop for Family Groups using her new skills and confidence. She is also exploring opportunities to progress on to accredited courses and start to volunteer as a training support worker. 8

9 2.6 Children s Links Do It 4 U Do It 4 U enabled learners to recognise their potential by identifying the skills that they have and developed a realistic action plan for future employment. The support provided was employment focussed with parenting skills included. Each session was a snap shot of different topics but throughout the programme there were running themes of development resilience, raising aspirations and capturing the qualities of individuals, in order to help identify positive activities beyond the programme. Outputs and outcomes: Significant long term impacts from attendance on this programme including moving all learners closer to the labour market, increased wellbeing of their families and enabling learners to make informed choices. Learners all increased in confidence and took away ideas which they have implemented into their own daily lives. By working across a very large group of partners and marketing opportunities the project engaged learners who were not already engaged in Children s Links delivery, therefore broadening the reach of the services delivered and bringing new learners into a Children s Centre environment. Learners had the opportunity to review every single session attended and reflect on their learning. This helped design future sessions and ensured the programme was flexible to meet the needs of the individuals and the group. The creative nature of the course and the interactive sessions that enabled engagement worked particularly well with this group of learners. Building confidence and identifying employability skills was done through non-traditional methods which were accessible to the individuals attending but with the desired outcomes. 9

10 Case Study Learner 6 Do It 4 U Learner 6 joined the programme on the second week when she was told about it by another young parent attending. Learner 6 doesn t live within the catchment of this particular children s centre but had found it difficult to engage with the one near where she lived and their young parents group didn t seem to meet her needs. Learner 6 did not have any aims or objectives at the start of the sessions but it became apparent that she needed some parenting support which was offered by the children s centre as well as some time to meet other parents of a similar age and spend some time focussed on herself. Learner 6 declared that she had been told she was dyslexic at school and had found the school environment challenging. However, she seemed keen to learn and engaged well during the sessions, sharing personal information about herself that was relevant to the group. As a result of the programme learner 6 is now more confident in her role as a parent, she is aware of what she needs to work on and has support to do this from the children s centre but can see how much she has learnt since her son was born. Learner 6 has said that she can see her purpose now, which is important as the troubled background that she has come from can often lead to a downwards spiral of disadvantage. She is determined to offer her son a better childhood than she thinks she had. She now has a group of peers to talk to that have gone through or are going through the same things that she is. This has allowed her to be more comfortable as a young parent and realise that the stigma that some people have attached to her is not the case. Learner 6 is hoping to continue to engage with the children s centre, they have an English course that she has shown an interest in. It is hoped that this will help her be more employable when she feels ready to go back to work. She has a clear plan of where she wants to go and how she thinks is the best way to get there. 10

11 2.7 Bengali Women s Project First Steps to Learning First Steps to Learning provided informal learning that brought together women from a range of different cultures to help them develop new skills and a broader capability to learn. Learners were taught how they learn, how to problem solve in everyday lives, increase English Language Skills (ESOL), encourage active citizenship and assist women to become more involved in their local communities. The activities were designed to improve confidence, motivation and interest in undertaking informal learning leading to take up of further education and training and employment opportunities. Outputs and outcomes Strong links to other Luton based groups who signposted and referred learners to the First Steps to Learning provision. A strong response to initial marketing campaigns from those interested in attending. 31 learners progressed through 30 guided learning hours and achieved their certificate which was presented at an awards ceremony on 04 th July In addition, 3 of these learners also gave speeches on their individual learning journey. First Steps to Learning exceeded the limit of learners profiled at the start of the project. Some learners progressed onto further learning including 1 learner who enrolled on a NIELT preparation course. In addition, 3 learners are now ready for advanced courses in English. The project gave these women a chance to explore their interest in going back into education. For some of the participants it opened new doors and allowed them to understand whether further education is the step they wanted to take. By inviting guest active citizens (women) from the community to share their learning journeys, there was evidence of a growing realisation that they, too, could be active citizens. By incorporating meta-learning (learning about learning) and decision making as significant features in the learning content, the participants developed their ability to assess their own learning styles and preferences. 11

12 Case Study Learner 7 First Steps to Learning Learner 7 is from Bangladesh but she did not know how to read and write Bengali so English was becoming her first language. Learner 7 attended the First Steps to Learning programme not knowing any English at all. She wanted to learn so that she could communicate with the people who come to her door or when she has to talk to a doctor. During the programme she learned about active citizenship and this was one of the themes she identified in her individual learning plan, so she was already expressing a keen interest in becoming involved in her community. Learner 7 was able to discuss with her course tutor towards the end of her learning journey her trip to class. She was also very pleased to have her own story written down on paper. Learner 7 was fully committed to the course with 100% attendance, despite having to travel on two buses and long walks to get to class. Her tutor adds It was an honour to have her in the class. I hold her in deep respect, almost reverence, for her ability to struggle through, despite these almost insurmountable obstacles in a class of 20. Always arriving at class first, always trying and trying to understand, to learn. An amazing woman. 12

13 2.8 Relate Bedfordshire and Luton - Parent Mentoring The Parent Mentoring programme offered NOCN accredited learning at Level 2 to parents who wanted to learn the skills needed for mentoring other parents in their community. Parents undertook a range of activities in a classroom environment including role play, group work, practical exercises and individual contributions. Those who attended developed communication skills, to become a source of support for parents in their own community, build and strengthen relationships within the community, encourage other parents to access community services and develop a sense of belonging in their community. Outputs and Outcomes The Parent Mentoring course recruited learners from all over Luton from many of its communities including Dallow, High Town and Biscot. In total 14 learners attended and gained the NOCN level 2 Parent Mentoring Qualification. All learners fed back that the Parent Mentoring programme has motivated them to learn more. Information, Advice and Guidance services aligned to the project added value for those looking to progress their learning or look at employability options. Case Study Learner 8 Parent Mentoring Learner 8s main aim in attending the course was to support parents. In particular, she wanted to support women as she has vast experience of supporting women in various paid and voluntary roles. Learner 8 found the Parent Mentoring qualification a good refresher and found being in a group of new people insightful into the work they were doing supporting parents locally. For learner 8 this was enjoyable and expanded her network of fellow Parent Mentors who she may not have met. Moving forward she would like to set up a service for women from minority groups and will be looking at how this can be achieved and which organisations she would like to work with in order to achieve this. 13

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