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Hertfordshire County Council

Maria provides loving care and support to her granddaughter, Lillie, who has additional support needs. In order to spend some quality time together away from everyday stresses and strains, Maria had ambitions to undertake a course with Lillie, which she believed would also equip them both with new skills, which could be enjoyed at home.

The first course Maria took with HAFLS partner, Community Learning Partnership (CLP) was a course in 3D art. Maria had been suffering with anxiety, and when she saw the course advertised for learners with mild to moderate mental health conditions, she thought it would help her. And it did! Maria learnt valuable new skills, made new friends and went on to enrol on other CLP courses.

Maria further benefited on these courses by spending time with her granddaughter, Lillie, who was struggling to fit in at school and to get the right support from education professionals - this lack of support in her education had an impact on Lillie's already fragile confidence.

However the half-term art journalling course gave them the chance to spend time together in a new environment and to share their love of arts and crafts. It gave both of them much-needed respite and the enthusiasm to continue their new-learned skills at home together, which helped ease family pressures.

Maria said: "These courses with CLP have changed my life. I’ve got new friends and confidence and I’ve learned new skills. CLP has helped me to cope with a difficult situation and there’s always the support of everybody there. I don’t know where I’d be if it weren’t for CLP, to be honest. They came into my life at the right time!"

For Maria herself, she is now more confident and has developed personal strategies for coping with anxiety, which has allowed her to participate in further courses. She has taken part in a Holistic Wellbeing Scandi Embroidery course and has supported CLP in the week-long exhibition at Hillingdon’s arts & crafts celebration. She has also stepped forward to be a more permanent volunteer for the charity and has progressed on to ASCEND’s 3-day ‘Spirit of Volunteering’ course, where she also gained a level 1 safeguarding qualification.

CLP nominated Maria for a family award in the 2018 HAFLS Achievement Awards ceremony (an award that Maria won); because of the huge impact she’s had on her own family’s learning.

BBO is a programme run by HAFLS and made possible with funding from The Big Lottery and European Social fund. The project aims to help provide skills, employment and finance mentoring at a series of hubs across Hertfordshire. This is done in conjunction with volunteer organisations in the community, such as CLP in South Oxhey.

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