Thursday, 19 December 2013

Celebrating success

The right course at the right time can change your life

The opportunity to study by distance learning can really make a difference to people. Whether it be for an A level or an IGCSE, a vocational qualification or something just for fun, being able to study around other commitments or without having to attend face-to-face classes is the only possible way for some. At NEC this is at the heart of what we do, and working here it is difficult not to be inspired by some of the amazing people we support and the great things they go on to achieve.

We told you recently about partnerships we have formed with 3 charities, to provide bursaries to disadvantaged students in our blog NEC tutor’s lifelong learning legacy. On Friday last week I was lucky enough to see  this in action at an event held by Crisis the homeless charity called the ‘Celebration of Success’. I was invited to say a few words about the bursaries available at an event they hold each year to celebrate the successes of their members, and I want to share with you my experience of what was an inspirational and moving day.

The first thing that was clear is how important this annual celebration is to Crisis members. It was standing room only, and the excitement in the air was electric. Several members of the Crisis team spoke, including CEO Lesley Morphy. We heard all about the cafe, and how it is educating members not only to help them move into the catering industry, but also teaching them about seasonal produce and healthy eating.

We also heard how the private renting campaign is helping more and more people into suitable accommodation and the employment services have helped more than 113 people into jobs since July this year. We also clapped and cheered as a huge amount of members, including some studying with NEC, received certificates for the educational programmes they are either working through or have completed.

The stories that some of the members shared were very emotional, at some points there was not a dry eye in the house. There were deportation issues, identification issues, substance abuse, punishments for crimes committed long ago carrying on long after the sentence is done. The gentleman I sat next to shared some of his experiences with me, and he had been through more than I thought possible. He was there to be presented with a certificate for a course he had done, and even shared with me a poem he had written since becoming involved with the education programme. It was beautiful! The afternoon finished with a great performance from the choir, which had everyone in the room clapping along.

Despite all of the challenges members of Crisis have faced, the outlook is positive thanks to the help and support that Crisis provides, and education is a really big part of that. Be that education by way of formal qualifications, teaching them some ballroom dancing or helping them to learn what it is they want and how they can get there. The positivity in the room was overwhelming and I feel both honoured and privileged to have been witness to it.

The NEC guide to courses (PDF) says on the cover ‘The right course at the right time can change your life’, and my afternoon spent celebrating the successes of these truly inspirational people reminded me just how true that is.

Carly Mason

Sales & Marketing Manager

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