Wiltshire Scrapstore based in Lacock is a small community-based environmental charity that not only makes the planet greener, but also helps people to use learning to improve their lives. Their achievements are being recognised with a European Social Fund National Project Award as part of Adult Learners’ Week, 13 – 19 June.
Funding for the project is through a European Social Fund Community Grant which benefits fifteen learners who are furthest removed from the workplace whether because of an emotional or physical disability or through lack of educational opportunity or special educational needs. The grant programme is coordinated across the region by Melksham-based charity The Learning Curve together with South West Foundation.
The Scrapstore collects resources that would otherwise go to landfill and redistributes them for creative projects of all kinds, from arts and crafts to DIY. They also educate the local community on recycling, reusing and upcycling to help reduce the impact on the environment.
The grant awarded to Wiltshire Scrapstore by The Learning Curve and South West Foundation has enabled the charity to run a training programme for their volunteers to give them opportunities within the charity to build their own skill-base, increase their confidence and enable them to meet their full potential. They are gaining a wealth of experience which will aid them towards paid employment. Five learners have completed the programme so far, three of whom continue to volunteer and another is in part-time work. One learner has proved so successful that they had to leave the programme early to take up a full time job.
One of the learners, James Harrison, said: “Working on the learning programme at the Scrapstore has made a big difference to my life and has made me feel more positive about myself and my abilities. My communication skills have improved in particular which has been a huge confidence boost. I have Asperger’s syndrome and I’m partially deaf, so communicating in a workplace environment is something that is challenging for me.”
Joanne Hine, community development coordinator at The Learning Curve said “Wiltshire Scrapstore is a very inspirational organisation which provides a safe and secure environment for people who would not feel comfortable to attend mainstream college to develop their skills. We are delighted to have been able to support Wiltshire Scrapstore in running this project and nominated them for the Adult Learners’ Week award because of the impact of their volunteer training programme – most of their learners have progressed into further learning or employment as a direct result of taking part.”
Angus Gray, head of ESF division at the Department for Work and Pensions, said: “I am pleased that the European Social Fund is again supporting Adult Learners’ Week. The stories of winners, like Wiltshire Scrapstore, show what can be achieved and will undoubtedly inspire even more people to engage in learning.”
David Hughes, NIACE chief executive, added: “The outstanding achievements of this year’s winners go to show the incredible impact that education can make at all stages of a person’s life. All of them have achieved tremendous things and I am sure that their enthusiasm and drive will act as real inspiration to future adult learners.”
Adult Learners’ Week (13-19 June) celebrates the transformational power of lifelong learning through activities and events. Run by NIACE as part of the Festival of Learning, Adult Learners’ Week demonstrates the dynamic personal, social and professional benefits of adult learning. The Festival of Learning, which takes place throughout May and June, will give individuals, families, communities and workplaces the opportunity to take part in activities and celebrate learning achievements.
The theme of this year’s Festival of Learning is #lovetolearn to capture the fun and rewarding nature of learning a new skill. Share what you ‘love to learn’ on Twitter using the Festival of Learning hashtag #lovetolearn.
To find out more about what is happening and how you can get involved, please visit www.alw.org.uk
Pictured above: The Wiltshire Scrapstore receiving their award at a ceremony in London last night (June 15 2015)