Community learning plays an integral role

The Foundation of Light, established in 2001, is the registered charity of Sunderland Association Football Club. It runs programmes across Sunderland, South Tyneside and County Durham working with a range of schools and academies.

One of the Foundation’s flagship programmes is the award-winning adult and community learning programme, Family Learning. The Family Learning team are qualified coaches and teachers who use the power of football to engage with families throughout the North East of England.

Adult and Community Learning plays an integral role within the North-East region. It aims to make learning accessible to everyone, in order to enable people of all ages to gain new skills, re-connect with learning, pursue new interests or to make positive changes in their lives, such as finding employment, moving into further education or volunteering.

The North East has a very high percentage of unemployment and below average educational attainment. Many adults have major barriers to learning which impacts the family unit. As the parents are ultimately the role model for their children, this causes an effect regarding the child’s outlook to education and life.

Adult and community learning programmes give families the opportunity to participate and learn in fun, varied activities that support parents and carers to help their children, and to learn themselves. The Foundation of Light’s Family Learning programmes offer a high-quality range of courses. They are available for families focusing on various topics relating to child development, health and well-being, mental health awareness, healthy cooking in partnership with the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, maths, English and finance.

All programmes allow parents and carers to spend additional quality time with their child whilst taking part in informal education, raising their self-confidence and aspirations to progress onto other programmes on offer or progress back into employment. Programmes are delivered with key partners across Sunderland, South Tyneside and County Durham, with all outreach sites at the Foundation of Light and through key partnerships we have been able to offer all courses free of charge to participants.

As the course concludes, the families are invited to a Graduation Event at the Stadium of Light (home of Sunderland AFC) which allows their achievement and successes to be celebrated. They are awarded with many incentives such as football match tickets, certificates of completion and a stadium tour.

The Foundation of Light works with around 1800 families each year across the North-East region. Many adult participants continue their learning journey by enrolling on further education courses or gaining employment. 99% of participants increase their subject knowledge, 98% increase their confidence and self-esteem and 99% improve and strengthen relationships within the family. These key achievements are the real impact behind Adult and Community learning and provide the entire family the opportunity to fulfill their potential.