Cymoedd Business learner achieves Triple Distinction*

Twenty One year old Matthew Brown secured triple Distinction * in his Level 3 Extended Diploma in Business course. Originally from Leicester, Matthew moved to Caerphilly in 2016 and studied for his GCSE’s at St. Martins School, where he gained a total of 13 GCSE’s A*-C grade.

After the success of his GCSE results Matthew returned to school to study his A-Levels but after the first year he realised that exam based learning was not his preferred method of study. With a keen interest in the Business sector and an ambition to progress on to a degree course at university, Matthew visited the college to discuss his options.

 He found the staff extremely helpful and after some discussion, enrolled on the Level 3 Extended Diploma in Business course based at the Nantgarw Campus, as this would enable him to achieve his long-term plans.

The course ticked all the boxes for Matthew, friendly and supportive lecturers who were always ready to help with the work, visits to local businesses so that students could talk to entrepreneurs about their experiences of starting a new business and the frequent visits to the college by its many influential industry partners. Hearing the speakers talk about careers in business and aspects of their daily lives aided Matthew with his assignments and inspired him on his career choice.

Through various modules, the course provided Matthew with the opportunity to put the new skills amassed whilst being at the college to the test; including time management, public speaking, and managing funds/costs.

Speaking about his achievements Matthew said, “It is undeniable that the college has empowered my ambition to take up a career within the industry by giving me the confidence to try new ventures outside of my comfort zone. At the end of the two-year course, I managed to achieve three Distinction*; which just shows that you can achieve anything if you put in the effort and you find the course stimulating and interesting.

After securing a position at five universities, I have chosen a place at the University of South Wales to study BA (Hons) Business and Management; the three/four course will allow me to study for a Master’s degree after completion. After university, I would like to either start my own business or take up a management position at an existing organisation.

I would highly recommend Coleg y Cymoedd to anyone who is looking to go to University, full time employment, start an apprenticeship, improve their education portfolio or even to start a business. The course itself has given me so many life skills that I can take forward to university and use every day. I have thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of college life from studying to meeting good friends”.

Congratulating Matthew, Course Tutor Yvonne Morris said “Matthew demonstrated a maturity to his studies from the very beginning of the course. His drive and determination to achieve the highest possible grade was evident throughout the two years of the programme and the standard of work produced by Matthew was exceptional. He thoroughly deserves the D*D*D* grade achieved.

Award win for man who overcame depression and anxiety through learning

A 37-year-old who overcome anxiety, depression and drug use through learning has won a major award.

Jamie Evans’ depression and anxiety saw him isolate himself from others, to a point where he would go weeks without human contact and was using prescribed drugs to medicate himself from the pain.

Now he’s top of his class and planning his next steps at university, after finding that learning helped him cope with his mental health challenges.

Jamie was awarded with the ‘Health & Wellbeing’ award at this year’s Inspire! Awards, a recognition of his success and dedication to learning against the odds.

Co-ordinated by Learning and Work Institute with support from the Welsh Government and the European Social Fund, the Inspire! Awards reward those who have demonstrated the power of learning, building confidence and developing vibrant and successful communities.

Jamie was awarded one of 12 awards which feature as part of Adult Learners’ Week, a week full of taster sessions and masterclasses aimed to inspire others to follow in their footsteps, which this year takes place online from 21-27 September.

He said: “I started suffering with anxiety when I was a teenager. I had health problems that were affecting me daily, which meant I was missing school, and that’s where it all began.

“I developed crippling anxiety and eventually stopped eating to combat the problem. I ended up losing six stone in less than a year, but this only made it worse.

Jamie was diagnosed with Chron’s disease and his anxiety became a huge barrier, stopping him from working, socialising and seeing anyone outside of his home.

“At my lowest, I wouldn’t get out of bed, I wouldn’t wash, I wouldn’t eat. I wouldn’t answer my phone when my family called, and I would make excuses when friends invited me out, so eventually they stopped asking. I had nothing to look forward to and I had lost all joy in life. I had been out of work for 10 years because of my anxiety, depression and my health problems, and I had no aspirations or plans for the future – I was just surviving day to day. I was miserable.

“I had been prescribed painkillers for the pain I was feeling but began relying on them more and more, and I started taking more and more because I was so unhappy.  Eventually, when they weren’t enough, I turned to stronger drugs and my problems really started to spiral. I was assigned a peer mentor through my substance misuse support worker.”

There, he was given a leaflet about a 12-week Psychology course with Adult Learning Wales, run in partnership with New Horizons mental health charity, that was starting shortly, and he signed up.

“On the first day, I stood outside the class for about 20 minutes looking at the door, terrified to go in. My anxiety was though the roof, I felt sick and I almost turned around. But something inside of me had clicked and I forced myself into the class.

“My first class was amazing. I immediately felt at home and the classes couldn’t come quick enough – I just wanted to learn more. I couldn’t remember a time when I’d had something to aim for and I felt motivated to get my life back on track.”

When the course was coming to an end, Jamie didn’t feel ready to stop, and enrolled on a Criminology class with the same tutor, despite it being a 40-minute drive away, something he had never conquered before. After a few weeks, he was on a third course in confidence building, sitting three courses a week, before eventually enrolling onto an Access course in humanities and social science at Coleg y Cymoedd.

“I met so many new people and my anxiety just seemed to melt away. I was enjoying myself and had a constant positive feeling inside of me. l felt like I had a purpose in life.”

In November 2018, not long into his course, Jamie was involved in a car accident, leaving him with physical injuries that worsened his Chron’s disease symptoms and brought back his anxiety.

He completed the course, coming top of the class, and although his tutor wanted him to apply for university, he decided to take a year off to recover.

 “I used to have the fear of the unknown, but now going into class, I meet new people and know that everyone is going through their own things and dealing with problems of their own, and no one is judging me. Nothing really mattered when I was in that classroom, and I can’t wait to get back to doing what I love.”

Now Jamie hopes his story will inspire others to believe in a light at the end of the tunnel.

“I’ve got so much more out of learning that I ever could have expected. Not just the subject knowledge from the classes, but valuable skills, self-belief, resilience, friendship and better mental health”.

Adult Learners’ Week celebrates lifelong learning, whether in educational institutions, through work, at home or as a leisure activity and the week will be full of tasters and success stories on why learning a new skill can change your story.

Education Minister Kirsty Williams said: “Even without a ceremony it’s so important that we celebrate the Inspire! Awards winners whose determination has been extraordinary. 

“Jamie is a great example of how lifelong learning has turned his life around, both professionally and personally. Gaining qualifications at any age will not only help us build a workforce with the right skills needed for the new normal, but also inspire people to keep learning to explore directions and keep their minds and bodies healthy too.”

David Hagendyk, Director for Wales at Learning and Work Institute said: “There has never been a better or more important time to start learning and our Inspire! Award winners show just what is possible. Whether it is gaining skills to help you find a new job, improving your health, or learning something you have always been passionate about, now is the time to pick up the phone or go online to get the support you need to start your journey. 

“During lockdown thousands of adults across Wales started to change their story by learning something new. We hope the incredible stories of all our award winners will inspire thousands more to take that first step back into adult education.”

Twenty-year-old carer wins national learning award for helping teenagers with their mental health

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A young carer who set up a club where young people can talk about their mental health has won a major award for learning.

Alisha Morgan, 20 from Penrhys is a full-time carer for her mother Heidi, who has almost 20 different medical condition including early onset dementia.

At 17, Alisha was suffering with her own mental health challenges and, paired with looking after her mum, felt she had no choice but to leave her college course. Life was tough and a difficult balancing act, and following the suicide of a family friend, Alisha became depressed.

She enrolled on a mental health first aid training course, which helped her find coping mechanisms for what she was going through. That course led to her finding the support to go back to college, inspired by the care she and her siblings Nicole and Ryan give to her mum.

Alisha has now been awarded with the ‘Young Adult’ Inspire! Award, a recognition of her success in changing her life through learning.

Co-ordinated by Learning and Work Institute with support from the Welsh Government and the European Social Fund, the Inspire! Awards reward those who have demonstrated the power of learning, building confidence and developing vibrant and successful communities.

As a team, they take care of her mother every day, from managing her medication, cooking her meals to washing.

Alisha said: “I had lots of experience taking care of someone who was really ill, so I thought why not make healthcare my career? I was fascinated by all the theory and science of it all. When you’re caring for your mother you don’t think about the tasks you do throughout the day, you just get on with it.”

Determined to forge a successful career, she is now working towards her Level 2 Diploma in Health and Social care at Coleg y Cymoedd with plans to be a paediatric mental health nurse.

She said: “The college is so supportive. It’s still really challenging and there are days when I sit in class knowing I’m going to get a phone call to say mum has taken a turn for the worse, or I’m thinking about the medication I need to organise. But they’re really flexible and understand my homelife.”

As well as caring for her mum and going to college full time, Alisha set up Ferndale Youth Club for young people, including those who have lost loved ones to suicide.

She said: “At my lowest, just after our family friend had committed suicide, I was caring for my mum and trying to keep afloat with my college work. I became extremely depressed. Every day was a struggle. I was caring for my mum, then rushing straight to college. I never went out and didn’t have much of a social life, there weren’t many opportunities for me to talk about what I was going through.”

The youth club is open to people aged 11 to 25 – a topic is chosen each session and the members talk, on everything from depression, anxiety and grief, to ‘Love Island and shopping’.

She said: “I’ve suffered with poor mental health myself, so sometimes it’s hard for me to talk about things such as grief but it also helps me spot signs. We talk as a group or sometimes one on one, it’s just nice to know that you’re not alone and other people have similar experiences to you.

“Running the youth club is a lot, but it also gives me some time and space on my own to chat to other carers or people dealing with grief. I’ve made so many new friends who I can chat to or check in with on social media. Being a young carer is all I know. It is hard sometimes, but you have to just keep going.”

Alisha is now on track to complete her diploma, after her last placement was paused due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

She said: “I want to be a paediatric nurse specialising in mental health. I will keep on pushing to make my mum proud.”

Alisha is one of 12 winners who feature as part of Adult Learners’ Week, a week full of taster sessions and masterclasses aimed to inspire others to follow in their footsteps, which this year takes place online from 21-27 September.

Kirsty Williams, Minister for Education, said: “Even without a ceremony it’s so important that we celebrate the Inspire! Awards winners whose determination has been extraordinary.  

“Alisha is a great example of how lifelong learning has turned her life around, both professionally and personally. Gaining qualifications at any age will not only help us build a workforce with the right skills needed for the new normal, but also inspire people to keep learning to explore directions and keep their minds and bodies healthy too.”

David Hagendyk, Director for Wales at Learning and Work Institute said: “’There has never been a better or more important time to start learning and our Inspire! Award winners show just what is possible. Whether it is gaining skills to help you find a new job, improving your health, or learning something you have always been passionate about, now is the time to pick up the phone or go online to get the support you need to start your journey. 

“During lockdown thousands of adults across Wales started to change their story by learning something new. We hope the incredible stories of all our award winners will inspire thousands more to take that first step back into adult education.”

 

Business learner pursues career in Health & Safety sector

Eighteen year old Cymoedd learner, Millie Easley left school with a focus on pursuing a career in the Business industry. However, at 16 years she was unsure of the specific route that she wanted to follow within the industry.

Millie attended an Open day at Coleg y Cymoedd and has never looked back. Living in Caerphilly, the Nantgarw campus was easy to access and she was excited to experience the atmosphere of studying at the college.

She enrolled on the Level 3 BTEC Extended Diploma in Business which provided an in-depth understanding of the operations and structures of businesses. Throughout the course Millie enjoyed learning about areas such as Exploring Business, Principles of Management and Work Experience in Business.

On completion of the course Millie achieved excellent grades and was equipped with the skills, to enable her to pursue her chosen career route within the Health & Safety industry. She enrolled on the NEBOSH qualification; an advanced Health & Safety course that will put her in a strong position to apply for and secure employment within the sector.

Speaking about her learning journey Millie said “Deciding to go to college was the best decision I have made, I now have many wonderful friends, fantastic memories and an honourable qualification. The course has shown me a variety of areas within the business industry that I would not have considered as a career, before starting the course.

Throughout my time at the college I have definitely become a more confident and independent person.  I would highly recommend the course and the college, it’s a great place to study – the staff are so helpful.

I’m looking forward to pursuing a career in the Health & Safety industry and I cannot thank the staff at Coleg y Cymoedd for their encouragement and support throughout the course.”

Top marks for Cymoedd’s Business learner

When 19 year old Megan Evans left school she was keen to pursue a Business course, as she had discovered an interest in the subject at school and hoped to pursue a career in that field.

Megan had heard great things about studying at Coleg y Cymoedd from friends who had studied there and attended an open event. Living in Caerphilly, the Ystrad Mynach campus was an ideal location, close to her home and easily accessible.

Arriving at the college Megan was impressed with the atmosphere; everyone was friendly and extremely helpful. She enrolled on the Level 3 Extended Diploma in Business as the course would provide an insight into different aspects of Business.

Megan enjoyed the benefits of studying at the college – the sense of freedom and being responsible for her own studies, but with the advice and support of tutors, if needed. The encouragement and guidance she received from the tutors and peers helped enormously with her assignments and she was always happy with the results – “you get back what you put in to your work”.

On receiving her results Megan said “I was delighted with my results Distinction* Distinction* Distinction, – I would recommend this course to anyone! Every day was a different challenge with a range of practical and written work but it has prepared me for fulltime work. I’ve obtained transferable skills which will make me more employable.

The course has also helped with my personal development, giving me the confidence to present in front of people and the belief in myself that I can succeed in looking for my dream career”.

Congratulating Megan, Course Tutor Yvonne Morris said “Megan is an exceptionally hard-working and intelligent learner, who has impressed her tutors with her determination, work ethic and modest attitude to her success. The quality and standard of work produced by Megan is exemplary and she is very deserving of her Distinction* Distinction* Distinction grade achieved. We wish her every success for the future.”

Cymoedd learner awarded ‘The Worshipful Livery Company of Wales’ Award

A Cymoedd learner from the ‘A Level Class of 2020’ has received The Worshipful Livery Company of Wales Award in recognition of her outstanding academic achievements.

The college was delighted to welcome Mr. Geoff Hughes, Past Master of The Worshipful Livery Company of Wales accompanied by Liveryman, Miss Margaret Davies, to the Nantgarw campus to present the Award and a cheque for £250 to Jodie Neville.

Jodie, 18, from Treharris studied at the college’s A Level Centre achieving four A* grades in Law, Sociology, Maths and History and will be heading to St. Edmund Hall, Oxford later this month. The gifted learner, who hopes to become a criminal barrister, fell in love with the prestigious university after taking part in its residential summer school programme last year.

Presenting the Award, Mr. Geoff Hughes, congratulated Jodie on her A Level results and on securing a place at Oxford. He explained one of the primary aims of The Worshipful Livery Company of Wales is to promote education in Wales and the School Awards provide the opportunity to recognise learners who have achieved outstanding results.

Speaking after the presentation Jodie said, “I am proud to receive this Award in recognition of my A Level results; I was so happy to have achieved the grades that I needed to secure my place at university and have to thank all the tutors at the college for their support. I have always wanted to go to Oxford, it is one of the best universities in the world and I am so excited to start my course in October”.

Commenting on Jodie’s achievements and the Award, Karen Phillips, Principal said, “We are so proud of Jodie. This has been a very different year for our learners, and I know that she has worked so hard to achieve the grades required by Oxford. We wish her every success for the future and I’m sure, given her commitment, she will achieve her ambition of becoming a criminal barrister. I hope that Jodie will stay in touch with the college to inspire future learners. I would like to thank The Worshipful Livery Company of Wales; we are grateful for their continued support of Cymoedd learners and I’m sure they would agree – Jodie is a worthy recipient of the 2020 Award”.

Young Carer achieves qualification to realise her ambitions

From a young age Chelsea Algate from Dinas, Rhondda had set her sights on a career in childcare and on leaving school she decided to enrol at college. She visited an open day at Coleg y Cymoedd’s Rhondda campus, and was delighted with the support offered to her, as a learner and young carer for her mum.

Chelsea enrolled on the Level 1 Childcare course and has never looked back. She found the course extremely interesting, providing the background to the practical aspect of the childcare course, including topics such as growth and development.

From the first day at Coleg y Cymoedd, Chelsea felt welcomed by the tutors and fellow learners and made many new friends, which helped her settle quickly on the course. Throughout the course, the tutors encouraged her to reach her full potential, gaining confidence in her academic work and also in seeking advice and support when she needed it.

Speaking about her three years at Coleg y Cymoedd, Chelsea now aged 19 years said” Studying at Coleg y Cymoedd has impacted on my life in a good way as it has made me a more confident person. I have thoroughly enjoyed studying, the placements and making good friends – for life.

Caring for my mum and completing my assignments has been challenging at times, but with the support and understanding of everyone at the college I was able to complete the Levels 1, 2, and 3 Childcare courses, gaining many qualifications and certificates.

I’m currently enjoying my employment, caring for elderly people and in the future, with my Childcare qualifications; I hope to achieve my ambition to work with children.

I would definitely recommend Coleg y Cymoedd and the Childcare courses. When I enrolled at the college three years ago, I didn’t think I would achieve the Level 3 qualification –but you don’t know what you are capable of until you try, and I’m so glad that I did!!

Congratulating Chelsea, Cymoedd’s Carers Champion, Laura Wilson said “The college actively supports Young Carers who have caring responsibilities which can impact on their learning. I am delighted to see Chelsea achieve her Level 3 Childcare qualification and gain employment. On behalf of the college we wish her every success.”

Aberdare

Wellington Street
Aberdare
Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF44 8EN

Nantgarw

Heol y Coleg
Parc Nantgarw
Cardiff
CF15 7QY

Rhondda

Llwynypia
Tonypandy
Rhondda Cynon Taff
CF40 2TQ

Ystrad Mynach

Twyn Road
Ystrad Mynach
Hengoed
CF82 7XR

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