I began college as a mature student at the age of 39 years old. I had not participated in any learning for over 23 years. I did not succeed academically at school so it was quite a challenge. Once I had my first child I began work as a cleaner through which I met an inspiring lady called Celia who encouraged me to work in social care. I started working as a care assistant. As my children grew up I took the decision to go to college and did a National Diploma in Care to earn more money. Part of the course required me to do 100 hours voluntary work to gain experience in a caring role. The Council for Voluntary Service told me a local Home-Start scheme was starting up to support families with bereavement, managing on a low income and depression amongst other things. I thought, "I can relate to some of those issues as I had
been there myself more times than I care to remember."
The training course covered a lot of elements in working with families; it was interesting and informative. Eventually I was 'let loose' on a family to try out my new found skills. I visited 'my family' once a week and I logged each visit in my Home-Start diary. At times I did not feel I was being much help, but at each supervision the organiser pointed out the positive changes in the family I was visiting. As well as giving 'my family' confidence, mine was growing also. I went on to have other families and seeing them progress through their sometimes stressful situation and come out the other side was extremely rewarding.
I passed my BTEC National Diploma in Care with flying colours, and my self esteem went through the roof. My plan was to get a better paid job but my tutor suggested that I go on the Access to Social Work course! She said it would lead me on to university! I had many doubts as no one in my family has ever been to university. I was encouraged by friends, Celia, college and Home-Start staff to apply for the course and see where it took me. I was surprised how much information I had actually retained from my ten week Home-Start training, volunteering and the BTEC course. Soon I heard I had been accepted at all three universities, providing I got the required credits, which
I did. I was stunned and delighted. Although it was hard at times and I wanted to quit, I hung on in there and qualified with a 2:1 BA (Hons) in Social Work.
"I know that without the support and encouragement from everyone at Home-Start, my college tutors, friends, husband and family I would not be where I am today. I am now a Senior Practitioner with a children's charity and a trustee of my local Home-Start scheme."