I came to Sheffield in 2002. I spoke a little bit of English and did not have any skills to get a job. My life was very boring and lacked social relationships. Therefore I went to college and enrolled for two courses in English language and maths because I wanted to improve my literacy and numeracy. While I was studying I got a part time security job and when I finished my courses I decided I wanted to do professional advancement, but this course needed a much higher level of English and an academic English test.
Another student and I arranged a private tutor and I passed my English exam at Sheffield Hallam University. Then I was able to start a business course at the Open University. I have also studied for many other courses such as accounting, phone repairing, and community journalism.
Studying has helped me get a better security job – now I work in the office rather than doing patrols. I manage my life independently, participate in my community and enjoy my life. I have more social relationships.
For me, learning English was the key.
I am 64 and left school in 1968 with no qualifications. I was married with a child at 18 and had three children by the time I was 27. I have volunteered in different roles since I was 13 and have worked all my life in a variety of jobs. I never thought myself to be a good learner and as a poor speller it was one of many things that affected my confidence. When I was 42 Ann Jones, Project Worker for Healthy Cross on Parson Cross, encouraged me to do a four night community course at Northern College. This woke up my desire to learn. I became a community worker in 1997. In 1998 I did an NVQ Level One course in Community Development and was thrilled to get my certificate.
In 2004, aged 52, I was accepted into training as an evangelist, and in 2007 graduated from college with a Foundation Degree in Theology and Ministry. All the learning (formal and informal) I have undertaken has been life changing and life enriching for me, and I have met
some fantastic people because of it. Fear of failure held me back for many years and I never thought I was good enough to do what I did. Don’t let fear stop you from having a go at learning. There are many amazing teachers of adults out there, give it a go and just amaze yourself.
Recently I did a residential course at the Northern College. I had to stay there for two weeks, but was able to return home at the weekends. The Northern College is based in an old country house, with magnificent wooden carvings on the staircases, the kind of place people often pay to visit. Superb meals were provided too, much better quality than the average school dinner, and for most of us it was free. We spent all day in class, but at night we could visit the on-site pub. Once the two weeks were up we all returned home and wrote up reports about the course, complete with footnotes, references and a bibliography, which we handed in to the college a couple of months later. Overall, it was an enjoyable change from my usual routine and educational too.
More recently, I’ve been to a creative writing group run by the WEA, which met at Burngreave Library. All the group members were keen amateur authors, so it was interesting to compare notes with them. The tutor gave us various five minute exercises to do, such as writing a short story beginning with a sentence the tutor gave us. When the time was up, everyone read out what they’d written, then discussed each other’s work.
At 27, as a single parent of two small children I decided to return to education. Through the Notts Women’s Training Scheme in Worksop and the encouragement of Rose Ardron, I decided to become a plumber. Condensing the three year City and Guilds course into two years, I accepted an apprenticeship, and ultimately a job, from Sheffield City Council and moved here.
Eventually I ran my own plumbing business here and in Kent, which ultimately led to a job teaching plumbing in a men’s prison. That meant college again and a teacher training course. The most satisfying thing I have ever done has been teaching prisoners plumbing and giving them hope of genuine rehabilitation and a potential career. None of that would have happened without adult education opportunities.