MP for South West Hertfordshire, David Gauke, spent the day meeting inspirational adult learners from a local employment support programme.

The Building Better Opportunities Hertfordshire programme, funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery, through the Big Lottery Fund, provides skills, employment and finance mentoring at a series of hubs across Hertfordshire.

The visit was an opportunity for the MP, who is Secretary of State for Justice, to see first-hand the positive impact community learning has on adult education in his constituency.

During his visit, the MP met Jason Ashcroft, a participant in the BBO programme at ASCEND in South Oxhey, as well as other participants from local charity Community Learning Partnership (CLP). Jason was referred to the Building Better Opportunities (BBO) programme by his carer. Jason says: “My flat had become a bit of a prison to me; I was lonely and so I spent any time outside my flat in pubs drinking and getting into scrapes in my local area.”

Through learning he has developed his confidence and is now leading some activities taking place at the hub. He says, “Since I’ve been on the BBO programme, my mentor has encouraged me to take part in classes, including African drumming and crafting.  I’ve also taken digital courses to develop my skills. The courses allow me to meet people from different trades and this gives me a chance to learn new skills for life.

“If it wasn’t for the programme, I probably would have spent Christmas alone in my flat, but since I’ve been here I’ve made really good friends and I had people to spend time with over Christmas.

“The BBO hub is a friendly place; you’re not judged and you can start afresh. Since coming to the hub, I’ve not even thought about visiting the pub! This programme has changed my life. I look forward to attending every week and taking my next step.”

Lord-Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, Robert Voss was also at the hub to see first-hand how the project is supporting participant’s education and social development needs.

Colette Wyatt-Lowe, Cabinet Member for Adult Care and Health, said;

“The Building Better Opportunity programme is making a huge difference to people’s lives, giving them the necessary support to overcome their issues and build confidence.

“Jason is a great example of how the programme can help people turn their lives around. I am so pleased that he and his fellow learners had the opportunity to meet with their local MP and share experiences of their journeys thanks to the BBO programme.”

BBO Hertfordshire is run by Hertfordshire Adult and Family Learning Service (HAFLS) in conjunction with a range of partners across Hertfordshire, including ASCEND in South Oxhey, Community Learning Partnership (CLP) and HACRO. Hertfordshire County Council was awarded £5.5m from The Big Lottery Fund and European Social Fund to help boost skills for local residents.

Read more about BBO, ask us a question or call 01992 556194 to find out more.