Building better opportunities in Hertfordshire

Published: 30 Jan 2018

On Friday 26 January, Sir Oliver Heald, MP for North East Hertfordshire met with inspirational adult learners and staff from the Building Better Opportunities (BBO) programme run by Hertfordshire County Council’s Adult and Family Learning Service in conjunction with a range of partners across Hertfordshire.

The visit was an opportunity for Sir Oliver to meet individuals who have directly benefitted from dedicated mentor support through tailored programmes, designed to help them overcome life challenges, as well as seeing first-hand the positive impact community learning has on adult education in his constituency.

Mags Maher, a participant in the BBO programme at her local hub at Create Community Network in Letchworth said: “Having had an abusive childhood and experiencing the death of my brother at a very young age, I was determined to support vulnerable people and threw myself into my career. I started The Young Person’s Drug Service in my local area.”

However, it wasn’t until Mags lost her job, after a short illness, that she felt the full force of all she’d been through. 30 years’ experience now counted for very little and her confidence ebbed away, her self-esteem dropped to an all-time low and she became very withdrawn and isolated. Mags’ support worker recommended that she should try attending the BBO programme. Since enrolling Mags has started to build her confidence and self-belief and has become a fantastic role model for other BBO participants.

She said: “I would definitely encourage other people to sign up to this programme. It made me realise I wasn’t alone; the skills I’ve learnt have helped me to think about a different future and have helped me re-build my self-esteem and confidence. The BBO programme has helped me remain alive.”

Hertfordshire County Council was awarded £5.5m from The Big Lottery Fund and European Social Fund to help boost skills for local residents. The BBO programme aims to help provide skills, employment and finance mentoring through intensive one-to-one support at a series of hubs across Hertfordshire. This work is completed in partnership with voluntary organisations in the community, such as Create Community Network in Letchworth.

To find out more about the Building Better Opportunities programme and the wide range of courses HAFLS runs across Hertfordshire, call 01992 556194, visit or email