by Lesley Reece
My learning journey began in January 2015 when I joined a jewelry making class with my daughter. Previously I had not left the house alone for four years and signing up took all the courage I had. It started when I had a nervous breakdown and I had to leave my job.
At first, it was very difficult to go to the classes, but with my daughter’s encouragement, I persevered. What I soon discovered was a love of learning and when the course ended I enrolled on a pottery class.
I had started volunteering at a local women’s centre: Inspire Women, where I was able to access a wide range of courses. I did things like First Aid, Introduction to Mental Health, Mentoring, Safeguarding and many more as well. Signing up to do the Maths and English courses was very hard as it meant travelling to the course centre by myself, however I was determined to carry on with my learning.
I was very nervous on the first day and as I had chosen to do both courses on the same day, I had many fears to overcome. The tutors soon put me at ease and by the end of the day, I was looking forward to returning the following week. I have to wear hearing aids and the tutors did everything they could to make my learning experience easy and positive.
I started on level one Maths and level two English. In a few sessions, I found a love for English (maths was a bit harder at first) and enjoyed each class, I even liked doing the homework.
I completed my level one Maths in about five months and went onto my level two in the same year. I took my level two exams in June 2016 and I am pleased to say I passed both of them! When the option to try GCSE English came, I jumped at the chance. I had to do a pre-GCSE course to see if I would be able to manage the class. I was told I could do the course which I started in September. I am loving it.
The change in me since starting that first jewelry class has been massive, my confidence has grown and I am able to get to my classes by myself. My whole outlook on life is so different and I am enjoying life again. I am very proud of what I have achieved in such a short time. If I could give one piece of advice, it would be to take that first step, it might be scary, but it really is worth doing. Pluck up all your courage and go for it.
Lesley Reece is the Festival of Learning 2016 Northern Outstanding Individual award winner. Read her full story.