logo-sfaFrom November 2013 to July 2014 the Bedfordshire and Luton Community Learning Fund supported 20 local VCS organisations to deliver informal learning provision to disadvantaged groups and communities throughout the county.

The fund was co-managed by the Learning Partnership and Luton Adult Learning.

Details of each individual project can be found below.

For more information on the Fund please contact Caroline Wilkins, or for further detail on the projects supported by the Learning Partnership in 2013-14 please read the full CLF 2013-14 Outcomes and Achievements Report.

Family Groups logoFamily Groups

Charlotte Day
T: 01234 316801
E: charlotteday@familygroups.co.uk
W: www.familygroups.org.uk

Award in Skills for Health and Social Care Level 1

The Award in Skills for Health and Social Care project delivered an OCNER accredited course, over 8 weeks, enabling learners to gain an Level 1 Award.

The course was aimed at engaging people looking to improve their employment prospects and who had an interest in working with adults and/or children in a care setting. Participants were able to explore their options of work in the fields of care, schools, nurseries or child minding and develop valuable skills designed to increase their knowledge and add to their CV’s for use during their search for employment.

Learners were provided with Careers’ Information Advice and Guidance support and offered help with applications and job skills. The learners also benefitted from one to one support sessions to discuss their own personal development plan and to gain support accessing further learning opportunities.

14 learners, from a variety of backgrounds, engaged onto the programme with 13 learners successfully completed the full course and 12 achieving an OCNER level 1 award. To help move learners into additional learning Family Groups worked closely with Bedford Adult Skills and Community Learning and the Children’s Services Training department.

Youth Inspired logoYouth Inspired

Natalie Morris / Clive Simpson
T: 01234 480980
E: natalie.youthinspired@gmail.com

“Steps towards Customer Service / Cooking / Healthy Living”

The aim of ‘Steps towards…’ project was to: ‘develop transferrable skills, confidence and self-esteem which will increase employability and economic participation within the community thereby increasing independence and reducing reliance on support services.’

Specific objectives for learners were to: improve confidence and self-esteem brought about by experiencing teamwork, social interaction, maintaining engagement, learning new skills and the achievement of a qualification;  achieve an OCNER qualification; progress onto further education, volunteering or employment through IAG and signposting / referral to other agencies, employers and providers as appropriate to the aims and aspirations of the individual learner;  receive an induction and initial soft skills assessment.

This process enables learners to identify areas of strength and areas that need development. Through self-assessment at the beginning and end of the course learners are able to reflect on their achievements.

The project delivered 4 x eight-week courses of 40 guided learning hours, in three different subjects: Customer Service, Cooking and Sport Skills. The courses were accredited by Gateway Qualifications (formerly OCNER) at 3 different levels: entry level 3, Level 1 and level 2. One course was delivered in each subject with 2 courses in Cooking skills being delivered in response to the demand from learners.

Courses were aimed at those aged over 19 with learning or mental health difficulties/disabilities, who are unlikely to engage in mainstream learning provision due to the nature of their conditions. The project encouraged learner progression to FE, volunteering or employment and improved active citizenship through increased confidence and self-esteem, allowing greater access to the community.

Youth Inspired recruited through the Disability Advisors at The Job Centre, Occupational Therapists and Autism Beds, as well as through their own website and worked with a number of organisations including Bedford Borough Council and NCS.

26 learners enrolled onto the programme (2 more than originally planned) with 25 learners successfully completing achieving their learning goals.  23 learners were awarded OCN accreditation for their learning and achievements, 5 learners gained paid employment, 7 learners gained voluntary employment, 7 learners are/ have progressed onto other learning opportunities, 23 learners are/have accessed IAG to help them with their progression.

At the end of their course 100% of learners reported: an increased ability to take part in social interactions; increased self-esteem; increased confidence to communicate with new people; increased confidence in accessing IAG support.

100% of learners gained new job-related skills, showed increased motivation and confidence to seek employment, demonstrated improved organisational and personal effectiveness skills and demonstrated increased digital an social media skills.

Relate Bedfordshire and Luton, YMCA Bedfordshire

Yasmin Ali
T: 01234 342503
E: yasmin.ali@relatebedsandluton.org.uk

Taking Charge of your Life

The Taking Charge of your life project was targeted at engaging vulnerably housed/homeless people aged 19 and over and designed to enable participants to develop the skills needed for independence and tenancy sustainment and longer term skills/resilience to make positive life choices and contribution to local communities.
The key objectives of the project were to enable individuals to:

  • understand and develop effective communication skills, giving learners the ability to express themselves in a clear manner – including practicing verbal and listening skills to build empathy and understanding of other people’s viewpoints and using these skills with confidence when communicating with their support worker, potential landlords and employers.
  • develop strategies for dealing with stress and understand how change affects them, helping them build resilience to future negative circumstances. Individuals also learned how to identify their own support networks to help them in times of difficulty.
  • develop independent living skills in the areas of budgeting, cookery, home maintenance, first aid (certified) and health and safety.
  • manage their time to live a more structured life and motivate them to fill their time with worthwhile activities, including investigating education, employment, training, volunteering or engaging with their support workers.

Relate worked with YMCA Bedfordshire to deliver the project. The YMCA were involved in recruiting learners onto the program through their support workers and for delivery of the Independent living skills element of the program.

The scope of the project was widened for recruitment purposes and included a housing association and two other local charities working with homeless people. The project also approached other agencies working with homeless people or people in supported housing including The King’s Arms Project, Prebend Centre Bedford and Aragon Housing.

A 30 hour course of learning was delivered to 2 groups of learners and covered: Communication, managing stress, managing time, managing change, cooking, budgeting, first aid, food hygiene and home maintenance.  The first course was delivered in the evening over 10 weeks and the second cohort 1 full day per week for 5 weeks.  The 12 hour course was a two day taster session that included selected elements from the 30 hour programme.

The delivery model of the program was varied to meet the different needs of this client group. In total 22 learners engaged onto the project. 18 learners enrolled onto the 30 hour programme with 13 completing the programme and 11 achieving all of their learning goals. 4 learners enrolled onto the 12 hour programme and achieved 100% attendance and all of their learning goals.

1 learner secured private accommodation; 6 learners progressed to part time work; 3 learners progressed into a voluntary role; 3 learners are attending further education; 2 learners are attending higher education; 13 learners achieved a Food Hygiene Certificate; 9 learners reported their daily life skills have improved; 9 learners reported that their ability to manage stress has improved; 9 learners reported that their communication skills have improved.

Preen CIC

Paul Robson
T: 0844 9934399
E: paul.robson@preencic.org

Made in Bedfordshire

The aim of ‘Made in Bedfordshire’ was to develop the creative and business start-up skills of individuals wanting to explore the idea of creative skills as a route to employment opportunities and other positive destinations.

Three courses were delivered that offered a package of practical, personal development, enterprise and pre-employment training and support with the aim of retailing learner products through self and sheltered employment or alternatively to enter into further education.

Creative skills were delivered via a series of workshops in a range of techniques leading, in cases, to the production of marketable products. The first course also included business start-up workshops, one to one support and a peer led Enterprise club.

The first course engaged with 8 learners, all of whom had LLDD needs, 6 of these learners successfully completed the course, achieving their learning goals and attending an average of 83 guided learning hours. The base of this activity was at the Preen Reuse Centre in Dunstable.

The second and third cohorts were delivered over a shorter period of 30 and 15 guided learning hours respectively. Both course 2 engaged with unemployed, hard to reach and disadvantaged individuals with often chaotic backgrounds. The courses were delivered in Downside at the Mayfield Centre and from the  Blackhorse homeless centre in Leighton Buzzard.

These course delivered a range of craft techniques whilst developing teamwork and self-confidence amongst the learners. The group will continue to be supported in a possible market venture in Dunstable. Together these course enrolled 15 learners, 7 of whom successfully completed and achieved their learning goals.

Bengali Womens Project logoBengali Women’s Project

Judith Robinson / Sheikh Moheeuddin
T: 01582 519500
E: s.moheeuddin@cycd.org.uk

First Steps to Learning

The aim of the ‘First Steps to Learning’ project was to provide learning sessions to adult women, from predominantly BME communities, in a safe, known environment, so that they were able to develop their English abilities, their learning processes, self-confidence and their knowledge of self, enabling them to function more fully in their host environment.

The project was targeted at those not ready for the cultural change of attending UK formal adult education as a way of enabling them to realise the gifts they already have for the host culture and offer opportunities for them to develop communication and self- awareness skills so that these gifts can be shared with the wider community.

The objectives were to: Enable participants to understand and apply the learning processes (meta-learning); Introduce/re-enforce decision making strategies for daily living; Increase English literacy skills (speaking, reading, writing, listening); Encourage active citizenship and the role each learner can play in their community.

The project delivered learning to 2 groups:

  • Level 1. This course was originally developed and delivered with Community Learning Funding in 2012-13 and proved to be a huge success. This year 15 new learners were given the opportunity to attend the level 1 course.
  • Level 2 progression course. The course was attended by learners who successfully completed last year’s level 1 project, giving them the opportunity for more in-depth study. Due to the success of last year’s project, and learners’ insistent demands to be involved in this form of informal learning again, the introduction of a Level 2 programme was the perfect progression route. Fifteen of last year’s learners were given the opportunity to attend.

Each course was delivered separately in 10 x 3hr tutor-led workshop sessions, with the assistance of an accompanying interpreter / learner support worker, at the premises of the Centre for Youth and Community Development.

Partner organisations worked with to publicise the project included Luton Community Health Forum, Bhandhob Health and Wellbeing Club, Khidmat Pakistani and Kashmiri Support and the Somali Women’s Group. Learners for level 1 were predominantly recruited through word of mouth and leaflet drops in the local area. Recruitment for Level 2 took place by carefully selecting “graduates” from the level one classes of 2013.

In total 34 women learners engaged onto the course – exceeding the original target. 96% of learners (at the time of learning) lived in the one of the top 50% most deprived areas of England with 32% living in the top 20% and 26% living in the top 10%; 41% of learners reported a learning difficulty or disability; 100% of learners came from a BME group with 74% of learners Bangladeshi; 62% had qualifications at level 1 or below with 18% having no qualifications; 94% learners were unemployed.

34 (100%) of learners completed the course and achieved their learning goals. A wealth of soft outcomes for learners were observed and recorded by the tutor during the delivery of the 2 courses.

These soft outcomes include: increased communication skills, confidence and self-esteem (letter writing, questioning in class, taking part in group activity, speaking out in class, volunteering to be a case study, sharing learning material in class brought from home); improved social relationships – 2 learners reported strengthened relationships with family members by improving their English to be able to help with homework and practicing their new English skills with their family.

Stronger links between community groups and support through new positive relationships – built through group work, changing seats in class, mixing with other ethnic groups and evidence by learners making new friends and exchanging phone numbers.

1 learner went on to gain part time employment as well as local volunteering position. Throughout the course all learners showed increased motivation and confidence in learning new skills and all have registered their interest in progressing onto further learning.

logo-Polish School BedfordThe Polish School in Bedford

Lucy Ratajczyk
T: 07840 107510
E: thepolishschool@gmail.com

ESOL enriched IT courses for Migrants

The aim of the project was to reduce fear of IT by migrants, particularly those aged over 50 and those from deprived communities within Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire by delivering an innovative learning programme combining the development of both English Language and IT skills through the use of e-learning and digital technologies.

The project was designed to help the learners develop confidence in using IT leading to increased engagement in  a variety of learning opportunities, better communication and participation and to aid integration, reduce isolation and increase personal confidence.

The project delivered 7 cohorts of learners between December 2013 and June 2014 with each cohort receiving 36 guided learning hours and up to 3 hours of bilingual individual support to help with enrolment, progression and individual needs addressing barriers to learning and offering additional access to IT equipment.

Learners benefitted from an ESOL e-book with and full IT access during the lessons. Learners used a variety of programmes and applications including Skype, email  and social media. The course helped them to develop their English skills and to make their daily life easier, enabling learners to engage with their family and friends and to access various community and learning networks.

A total of 47 learners engaged onto the programme with 40 successfully completing and achieving their learning goals. Of the 40 completing the project ages ranged between 22 and 72 – 55% were aged 50 and over, 60% were unemployed, 78% lived in an area of Bedford ranked in the top 22 in the indices of deprivation, with 28% living in one of the top 4 (and the top 10% nationally),5% reported a learning difficulty or disability.

Using learner feedback, soft skills outcomes forms, ILP’s and assessment of those who completed the course :

  • 100% of learners showed improved confidence in using English language and feel more confident in speaking and writing in English.
  • 100% learners showed improved confidence in using IT and increased engagement in a variety of learning opportunities.
  • 100% learners showed improved communication skills and a reduction in perceived isolation.
  • Improved family relationships: After attending the activities 37  learners agreed that they have better relationship with family and friends due to an increase in contact via social networking.

The Polish school worked with PBIC for referrals and for the provision of IAG by bilingual advisors to enhance employment and self-employment opportunities for the learners and to signpost them to progression opportunities.

Bedfordshire African Community CentreBedfordshire African Community Centre

Bony Ndjova Shamalo
T: 01582 484807
E: bony.shamalo@africancentre.org.uk

Learn for Brighter Future / Digital Skills for Brighter Future

The project aimed to empower and support hard to reach African Migrants and other BMEs living in Luton South (Dallow, Biscot, Hightown, Farley, South, Lewsey, Leagrave) through the provision of a variety of learning experiences on multi-media and broadcasting technologies, to increase employment, social entrepreneurship opportunities and support them in their daily life.  It is also aimed to provide a learning opportunity that will prepare and develop skills and confidence needed to live independently.

The objectives were to increase social interaction, communication, employability and entrepreneurial skills through the use of Social Media; increase the awareness of digital technologies and thereby improve employability and interaction in this digital age;  improve public speaking, presentation and production skills through broadcasting and production workshops in camera operation, editing and radio broadcasting, thereby increasing confidence and to improve knowledge on basic software packages such as MS Word, Excel, etc.

The project helped to reduce isolation amongst the service users and encouraged integration.  It brought awareness of digital technology to a group of people who would have otherwise not been confident to venture into these new areas.  Some of the learners were supported into further education and employment.

marshfarmfutures logoMarsh Farm Outreach

Glenn Jenkins
T: 01582 345555
E: marshfarmoutreach@gmail.com

Bottom Up Development – Level 1 Project

Bottom Up Development engaged residents from Luton estates learning grassroots ECOnomic development techniques ‘from the bottom up’. Learners participated in group discussions and activities exploring different aspects of the Marsh Farm ‘Bottom-Up Development’ strategy for sustainable change.

Learners were encouraged to physically survey the local area for resources in preparation for asset mapping. Learners took part in a ‘urban safari’ which involves a tour of the local area in the context of community development in the recent years. This gave life to the learning gained from playing MFOpoly.

The project evidenced a considerable increase in the will to engage in community life. The understanding of local economic flows through the ‘Leaky Barrel’ experience impacted on all of the learners generating hope, ideas, and determination to make changes for the better, for the individual and the local community in general.

For most there was a general familiarity with multi-cultural communities but for some there was an increase in the will to engage with other cultures. Real ideas for projects and enterprise emerged from some of the participants’ involvement with the course with one learner finding work for him and another learner (and they are still working together today).

The increased will to be involved in local community groups/ life ranged from simple involvement to getting involved in local politics to help make some of the changes highlighted in the BUD strategy. Confidence levels were raised considerably for some of the learners who were able to move on to other courses. Nearly all felt more confident or hopeful toward positive change in the community.

BRCC logoBedfordshire Rural Communities Charity

Beth Mccausland
T: 07738 240619
E: bethb@bedsrcc.org.uk

Practical Horticulture for Adults with Moderate Learning Difficulties

The aim of the project was to deliver an inclusive, accessible, accredited, high quality horticultural training course to 15 learners with moderate LDD embedding and extending their current pre-qualification knowledge and provide the opportunity for some to achieve at least one Entry Level 3 unit in Horticulture, providing them with an opportunity to progress to meaningful employment/volunteering opportunities and/or further learning

At the end of the project, all fifteen learners have achieved their target outcomes. Eight of the learners have submitted portfolios for NOCN accreditation at Entry 3 and/or Level 1.  All of the learners on the full course completed 26 volunteering sessions at Stockwood Discovery Centre and completed 4 projects – a winter interest garden, a Roman herbs planter, a floral display and an herb bed within the grounds.

The learners designed the planting schemes, prepared beds and planted them.  In addition the learners undertook a range of maintenance tasks in the grounds including weeding, digging, removing gravel and levelling soil between the glasshouses and caring for plants.

Three of the learners have decided to go on to study for their Level 1 English with Luton Adult Learning next year.  Two learners wish to undertake further study toward a teaching qualification.  Five learners intend to continue volunteering at Stockwood Discovery Centre, one leaner is moving to Ireland to work on his own smallholding and two are undertaking self-employed gardening in private homes.

All the learners engaged in a programme of extended study above Level 1 and participated in the design and execution of experiments, for example, growing trials using different growing media and environments.

logo Princes TrustThe Prince’s Trust

Lauren Keeler
T: 07572 626898
E: lauren.Keeler@princes-trust.org.uk

Get Started with The Prince’s Trust

Get Started with The Prince’s Trust has provided community based informal learning opportunities to disadvantaged Adult Learners aged 19 to 25 through the delivery of two Get Started with Football Programmes. These programmes were based at Luton Town Football Club and used a combination of sport and personal development activities to engage with learners and sustain their participation in a stimulating and supportive informal learning environment.

Recruitment was targeted at the most deprived areas of Luton and surrounding areas.  Learners gained recognised coaching qualifications as well as improved confidence and personal skills to help them progress into employment, education and training.

Rampage Carnival Club

Annmarie Williams
T: 07701 091589
E: rampagecc@btinternet.com

First Steps to Carnival Arts

“First Steps to Carnival Arts” offered informal learning for adults aged 19+ with no previous experience of this art form, targeted at unemployed BME residents in Luton.

Courses covered Carnival heritage, costume design, production and fabrication techniques, plus aspects of performance, culminating in a celebratory showcase and involvement in the Luton Carnival.

Recruiting learners to the programme proved to be a greater challenge than anticipated, but learners who did engage benefitted from increased confidence through skills development and creative expression. The project improved creative skills and increased the self-esteem for unemployed or economically inactive residents Luton who took part.

Lady Zia Wernher logoLady Zia Wernher Training Department

Judith Jackson
T: 01582 439104

Developing Communications in SEN, EAL and the early years

Lady Zia Wernher is a specialist school based in the Ashcroft/Ramridge area of Luton.  The school specialises in the education of children with learning and physical difficulties.

Drawing on the wealth of experience and knowledge that staff have developed, the Training Department was established to meet the needs of the local and wider community to support the development of communication and understanding of children from birth to three years and those with SEN/EAL needs of all ages.  The department is completely self-funding.

This continuation project offered learning opportunities to parents and carers of these children, specifically supporting those from deprived and SEN communities.  Learners were able to improve their communication skills and in the process became more confident about communicating with their children.

Mind logoMIND BLMK

Jeanette Skipsey
T: 0300 330 0648
E: jeanette@mind-blmk.org.uk

Healthy Aspirations

Mind offered Healthy Aspirations courses as a continuation project in Luton.  These courses provided a structured opportunity to learn techniques that are designed to support mental health and wellbeing.

The project was tailored to engage adult learners over 19 years old, experiencing mental health difficulties, or with chronic conditions or long term illness or chronic conditions, many of whom are also affected by mental health difficulties.

These groups ran in Luton and created supported learning groups of people with similar lived experiences. The programme equipped learners with tools to build skills and assist with individual learning goals.

DRCC logoThe Disability Resource Centre

Melanie Hawman
T: 01582 470900
E: melanie.hawman@drcbeds.org.uk

I can do IT

I can do IT provided targeted support to carers and residents with physical and mental health issues hoping to develop their IT skills in order to access services, support and promote independence.

Information technology skills were developed via a selection of engaging and interactive workshops to provide a package of practical support and training through a managed journey which took into account the specific needs of the target group.

NOAH Enterprise logoNOAH Enterprise

Warren Edwards
T: 01582 417785
E: warren.edwards@noahenterprise.org

Digital Learning for Beginners

The projected was designed to work with socially excluded individuals and provide them with training to learn what is available on the internet and ways they can access information and services.

We aimed to teach the basics of using a computer, other digital devices and the most common software; Microsoft Office. Learners learned how to access more information, get better deals on purchasing items they needed, accessed work opportunities, upload their CV’s onto job sites and were introduced to social networking.

The project engaged with some of the most marginalised and disadvantaged in Luton, many of these were homeless and potentially suffering from mental health, drug and alcohol issues. The project worked with many partners to identify and engage potential candidates which resulted in the final numbers being very close to the project target; an excellent achievement given the challenges faced by the learner cohort.

Many of those that attended the programme had little or no experience of using computers and often had literacy issues which compounded their computer literacy. The range of abilities meant that sessions had to be individualised to individual candidate needs, we developed “how to” hand-outs with diagrams and instructions to support independent working where possible.

The course improved the confidence and motivation of individuals with many finding work as a result.

Mary Seacole Housing Association (MSHA)

Audrey Lewis
T: 01582 415651
E: alewis.maryseacole@btconnect.com

Build a Bridge Project

The project offered informal learning for adults residents of Mary Seacole Housing Association. This was a new initiative which provided preparatory steps to access learning and training.

The project delivered a step-by-step re-introduction to education for learners, offering a 9 week course on topics such as Homelessness, Money Management, Communication, Behaviour and Attitudes to bridge learners from homelessness to vocational studies.

During the funding period two consecutive courses were run. Recruiting learners to the programme proved to be a greater challenge than anticipated, but learners who did engage benefitted from increased confidence through the development of new skills.

walk to freedom logoThe Walk to Freedom Limited

Mark Clarke
T: 01582 726039
E: info@walktofreedom.co.uk

Drug and Alcohol Awareness Course

The Walk to Freedom project gave learners in the Lewsey Farm and Dallow areas of Luton the opportunity to raise their awareness and further their development in tackling the issue of drug and alcohol dependency within their service or home.  In addition to that, Learners were able to gain more understanding of the problem by viewing it through the eyes of the user.

The workshops raised confidence and empowered learners to address the issue and to encourage users to face the challenges of dependency and seek further help.

The workshops went really well.   Despite having to add more time on the day to cover the more generic aspects of drug and alcohol awareness, none of the learners actually noticed that the workshop had overrun. We took that as a positive sign of the level of interest in the topics

Luton Community Health Forum

Sarita Jain
T: 07929 384290
E: sarita.jain1@hotmail.com

Negotiating your way to Better Health

The project was a 10 week course for disadvantaged minority women delivered in a range of South Asian languages as well as English to improve negotiating and communication skills in a healthcare context in order to achieve better health outcomes.  The sessions were highly participative and included role play as well as opportunities to have direct dialogue with health professionals.  The course was delivered to two sets of learners within the specified time scale.

The project worked with health professionals (local health commissioner, GP, Pharmacist) who came to the class to speak on a range of topics.  We also had a speaker on cancer and the IAG at one of our sessions as well as a police woman who came to raise awareness of the prevent agenda.

For recruitment of learners we contacted community centres, faith centres, community groups, luncheon clubs, swimming classes and via word of mouth, telephone calls and emails using organisations, individual community activists and networks.  This proved to be a very effective recruitment method and resulted in the project exceeding target numbers leading to an increase in funded numbers.

The course raised awareness of self-care, rights and responsibilities in healthcare and the NHS. We worked with our learners to increase their confidence in communication and negotiation skills.

Community Needs / Training 4 U Services (UK)

Mohammed Islam
T: 01582 455888
E: mohammed.t4us@hotmail.co.uk
W: www.training4uservices.co.uk

Basic ICT

The main purpose of this Basic ICT continuation project was to promote social and digital inclusion advancing the education and training of people in the Biscot, Saints and Dallow areas of Luton and in particular ICT up skilling to support economic wellbeing and improved employability.

The project focussed on developing the capacity and skills of socially and economically disadvantaged people in the area in such a way that they are better able to identify, and help meet their needs and to participate more fully in society.

Using community networks the project quickly met its targeted numbers and this lead to an increase in the total number of learners for funding.


Helen Tucker
E: helen@iodt.org
W: www.iodt.org

Women Talk Project

The ‘Women Talk’ series mission was to encourage, inspire and support women. Women face a variety of challenges when thinking about returning to the labour market and again once they are within the workplace, education or in business in comparison to men.

The ‘Women Talk’ sessions achieved their goals as the women told their stories – it showed what happens when women become motivated and inspired to improve and/or change their lives. All learners had inspirational stories. The stories were every day stories from local women which showed how their lives went from one phase into another and that if they believed events in their story had changed their life then chances are it may inspire others.

All of the stories were brought together into a book, which was launched at the celebratory event at the end of the project.