Seasiders celebrate student success

Published on 16/10/2019 by nmoo

Some simply sought safety and the chance to rebuild shattered lives thousands of miles from their war-torn homes.

Others had left school with no qualifications and desperately needed help to give them a fresh start and a chance to look beyond unemployment.

All had a burning desire for a better future. And to build a better Blackpool for everybody.

This week the efforts of some of our town's most deserving and dedicated people were celebrated at the Seasiders Student Progress Awards hosted by the Mayor of Blackpool, Councillor Amy Cross.

Coun Cross has committed her year in Mayoral office to helping those most disadvantaged across our community. Her charity for the year is Bispham-based Empowerment, which supports vulnerable people.

The awards ceremony was an extra special event coinciding with Love Our Colleges week, a national initiative designed to bring attention to the transformative power for everyone of education.

Seasiders Learning Centre, part of Blackpool and The Fylde College, reintroduces adults to education with basic training around English, maths, IT and employability.

The centre reaches out to those most in need of a fresh start through a wide variety of organisations across the local community including job centres and housing associations.

Many Seasiders students endured tough situations before starting out at the learning centre.

Some had low morale and no expectations - but like its sister college Gateway Campus, which helps 16-18 year-olds achieve qualifications out of reach to them at school, Seasiders provides an inspirational environment that first gives learners self-belief and then through study helps them set their sights on fulfilling careers.

Coun Cross praised students at the celebration for their unswerving commitment to changing lives of themselves, their families and the wider Blackpool community.

Any one of the Sands Way students at this special occasion were perfect examples of how lifelong learning can change communities.

We take a look at some people who came to Seasiders looking for a basic education to help them on their feet - and found instead the chance to achieve their ambitions thanks to the learning centre team's unending commitment to student success and strong ties with regional employers.

I’m possible

Earlier this week Eliud Kipchoge achieved what many thought was impossible - a sub-two hour marathon.

He told reporters than no human was limited. Seasiders' students in their hundreds have proved time and again that impossible means I'm possible; here are just a handful who have exceeded their own expectations and shown others how self-belief can change everything:

Supporting the community: Malek Albatere

Malek escaped war-torn Syria for a refugee camp in Jordan. After volunteering as a health advisor, Malak was later given entry to the UK with her husband and their four children.

Having arrived in Blackpool, Malek decided to start the journey to becoming a teacher and after being introduced to Seasiders signed up for maths and employability courses. Having passed ESOL Entry 2, Malek is working towards Entry 3 and recently completed Level 2 Maths - while volunteering at a local primary school.

Malek said: "My journey here has been long, difficult and sometimes traumatic, but I am here and I have to forget the past and move forward and create a new life for me and my family in the UK."

Life-changing experience: Dindar Hassan

Syria-born Dindar Hassan had a mountain to climb arriving in Blackpool with no family and a little English.

He was referred to Seasiders and began the long road towards gaining his English (ESOL) and maths functional skills qualifications, and relished the chance to learn the language among friendly and welcoming students.

Dindar quickly became a class favourite and as well as working hard at home, spent much time volunteering to help other learners get to grips with English.

Dindar has now passed his English speaking, listening and reading ESOL exams and having completed his first two maths courses is now well on track to passing his third, which he'll finish while working on his second English course and an IT qualification.

Life through a different lens: Chantelle Quinn

Chantelle Quinn took her Functional Skills English Level 2 course after being recommended to Seasiders by Blackpool Coastal Housing.

After completing that course Chantelle was inspired to study a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Photography and an English GCSE at B&FC's Bispham Campus.

Chantelle's advice: "You can do anything you put your mind to - you just need to be in the right place to learn and do it."

From learner to teacher:  Dave Tarpey

Dave Tarpey was the last person he thought would become a teacher.

But 35 years after leaving school with no wish to return to education, Dave is back at college - and he's got his sights set on helping others learn functional skills.

Recently former glazier Dave realised he needed English and maths qualifications for a change of career, and faced his fears to restart his studies.

"If I spoke to the Dave of 1983 and told him that I'd enjoy studying, he would have just stared at me in horror," said Dave.

After passing courses at Seasiders Dave has now taken the next step and is studying towards  GCSEs in English and maths - with the hope to later teach functional skills to those who, just like him, didn't enjoy school as youngsters.

Dave owes his success to Seasiders tutors. "Without the patience, support and encouragement of Bev and Sue I would have found it a lot harder and maybe not decided to take the path I am on now. I will always be indebted to them," said Dave.