Strabane native Bethany has overcome barriers to learning thanks to the Going Places Programme at South West College. The innovative employability programme assisted Bethany on her educational journey and progression into employment.
Having been diagnosed as autistic at a young age, Bethany faced many hurdles throughout her secondary education. Over the years she felt uncomfortable and found it challenging to make friends. As a result, Bethany completed her schooling by attending the Alternative Education Programme.
At age 17, Bethany took ownership of her future after receiving a Going Places leaflet through her door. She instinctively felt the programme would be a great fit for her, offering a more flexible learning environment with smaller class sizes reinforcing her ability to feel comfortable.
Bethany received tailored one-on-one mentoring and support on the 15-week programme, which she feels made all the difference in her educational journey. It elicited self-belief, allowing her to thrive and complete accredited qualifications in what she describes as career-advancing taster courses, including Health and Social Care, Customer Service and Employability through City and Guilds.
For the first time, Bethany had received the educational experience she yearned for and felt inspired to achieve her best; in turn, her confidence and independence grew, and she successfully moved onto Phase two; learning to drive. Bethany commenced lessons with an appointed driving instructor and received mentoring support through her driving theory, which she triumphantly passed on her first attempt.
Bethany blossomed within the tailored learning environment and progressed within her studies, focusing on key competencies through workshops concentrating on employability and personal development. Likewise, she attended a job club; updated her CV, gained knowledge in interview skills and completed application forms.
Determined to succeed, Bethany did not let her disability deter her, and she successfully secured employment with ‘Savers Health and Beauty’ through the Going Places programme in Strabane. Bethany said, “I don’t think I would have had the confidence to apply and go for this job if it was not for the support and help from the staff at Going Places.”
The fully-funded Going Places programme delivered an unparalleled experience for Bethany, and she feels that she wouldn’t have received this support elsewhere. It has opened up so many opportunities; gaining not just education, but new friends and so much confidence in her own abilities.
She said: “I have felt very comfortable attending the classes at Going Places; I have met new friends and gained a number of qualifications. I would highly recommend this course to anyone; it has helped me with many things, including gaining more confidence within myself, and I have developed new skills and qualities. They have also helped me receive my driving test, which I never thought I would be able to do with being so nervous and anxious.
I have achieved a range of qualifications that helped me get a job in ‘Savers Health and Beauty’ and had a great interview that Going Places helped me prepare for. With the qualifications I achieved, I can now use these to find more jobs in the future. So, I would highly recommend Going Places; they help you to achieve your goals!”
Bethany thoroughly enjoyed the empowering programme and is now hoping to continue her studies at South West College, specialising in Early Years. She said: “I don’t think I would have had the confidence to do this a year ago, but Going Places has changed the way I feel about education.”
To find out more about South West College’s range of social inclusion programmes, designed to create progression pathways into further education and employment, please visit: www.swc.ac.uk/learn/alternative-programmes