Finalist 2021

Skills & Learning ACE – Keep Learning, Keep Well

2021 Runner-up

Lockdown put an end to face-to-face learning for many, but adult community education provider Skills & Learning didn’t let that get in the way. They paired free online learning courses with wider information, advice and guidance to support people through unparalleled circumstances.

As well as putting a stopper in the works for many people’s learning, the pandemic also led to an increase in mental ill health, isolation and challenging living circumstances for many. We wanted to bring together different resources which would help meet these diverse needs and to enable people to continue to develop and discover new opportunities when so many other things had been taken away.

We supported over 9,000 people with accessing free online courses and videos to help fill time and provide a sense of purpose. For others, it was signposting to food banks, volunteer support for shopping or mental health support. The increase in unemployment also meant that we provided a lot of support, including a free online information, advice and guidance service and online job club to help people think about the different career options available to them.

Moving online allowed us to support the community, providing free online resources and acting as a connector. It was created as a response to lockdown and coronavirus but, our Keep Learning, Keep Well provision has been so effective at bringing all different kinds of support together in one place that we have continued this into our new course programme.

One learner said: “I’ve worked for the same company for 25 years and always hated my job. When I found out I was at risk of redundancy, I felt at a complete loss of what to do next – I don’t want to spend another 25 years in a job I hate. I signed up for an Interior Design taster course at Skills & Learning and loved every second. S&L has helped me to feel much more positive about my situation and to see redundancy in a different light.”