Finalist 2021

Nicola Williams

2021 Runner-up

Nicola’s main motivation to return to learning after 12 years of stay-at-home parenting was getting back into work. However, she soon started to see the wider benefits of learning, also sparking an interest in a career-change to become a counsellor.

After being out of work for 12 years, first to look after and home-school my child and then to care for my elderly Mum, I wanted to find a job and feel confident in supporting my son’s secondary school education.

I started off with improving my basic Maths and English skills, but it was when I enrolled on a Counselling course to improve my confidence, listening and communication skills that I started thinking about pursuing a career as a counsellor.

As scary as it was to think about a career change at my age, I felt this path was right. My motivation was to help others realise their goals and overcome the daily challenges of life or illness. I’ve now got a job supporting people with mental health problems which has been made possible by the knowledge and skills I gained through all my courses.

As well as helping me progress down a career path I’m passionate about, I’ve also become a better listener and my relationship with my family has improved. It’s a great feeling knowing that I can be there to support my son through his school years.

I used to lack confidence and feel shy, but I’m increasingly aware of the qualities and abilities that I possess to make me into more than just a Mum, carer or partner, but also a contributing member of society.

Gigi, HALS Curriculum Manager, said: “Nicola’s generosity and courage to share her own challenges with others in an honest and open way, her willingness to accept support and her reflections on how his support has helped her to progress have made a real beacon of hope for many learners starting on their learning journeys. She is a well-known voice and a real inspiration for both learners and staff across the service.”