Case Studies - Coleg Harlech Courses, North Wales

Student Activities

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Blaenau learners celebrate success at Criccieth Open Art Exhibition

Tutor Joanna Richards is thrilled at her student’s success – “ 5 of my Blaenau students put work into the Criccieth Annual Open Art Exhibition 2014, and everyone had at least one painting accepted , which I think is pretty good going, especially as most had never had a painting exhibited before let alone a prestigious competitive exhibition like this one.

The students are euphoric to have the opportunity to exhibit and several have gone on to sell their paintings which is fantastic.

Learner Val Lewin was “absolutely over the moon” when 2 of her pictures sold, success soon to be followed by Sally Horn who sold a group of pictures of Blaenau Ffestiniog during the show.

Joanna added “This is a competitive exhibition and all paintings were judged by a panel consisting of Howard Coles and Tess Urbanska, I had to persuade them to have the confidence to do it, but they did it!”

Exhibitors were Val Lewin demonstrating the red spot below her painting indicating it had been sold, Cynthia Lewis, Sarah Hartill, Sally Horn, Nigel Batterham and Pam Bateman.

Gwent Learner Forum

The 4th Annual Learner Forum was held in May 2014. Learners attended from the Gwent Adult Community Learning Partnership; WEA; Welsh for Adults and Coleg y Cymoedd. These learners represented Art & Craft, Basic Skills, General Education, Independent Living Skills, ICT and Welsh for Adults.

Managers and service users at Clocktower take time to boost their Essential Skills

The Clocktower, Mostyn, Flintshire provides day services for adults with learning difficulties and challenging behaviours. Coleg Harlech WEA have been providing a communications course for the service users and also, through the Essential Skills in the Workplace programme, for the support staff.

James Beresford, team leader said “All the service users really enjoy this course and look forward to it each week. They have been working on their writing skills by creating postcards and improving their reading skills.

The tutors, Diane Roberts and Sian Hanley have both been brilliant; they very quickly distinguished the right level for everyone taking part so they could all get something out of the course.

I have been learning more about how to structure the activities we provide which has a direct relevance to my job”.

Ben Roberts, Manager added “I have had great feedback from parents and staff, it’s gone far better than I could have imagined and I would love to do more.
I’ve noticed a closer team spirit developing, they’ve all enjoyed attending and it’s good to see them all grow in confidence.

Cambrian Coastal Community Choir is looking for Men!

David Leach, chairman of the Cambrian Coastal Community Choir explained,
“We are always looking for new members, especially for the male sections, everyone is welcome, there’s no auditions, just turn up on Monday evening at Llanbedr village hall where we meet from 7.30pm each week. We will be starting to rehearse for Christmas events soon”.

Long standing choir member Marion Leeke said “I really enjoy coming to the choir, I don’t feel that I’m a good singer but I enjoy singing and they don’t make a fuss if you make a mistake. I don’t read music and it doesn’t matter because the choir master, David Gunn, makes sure we all know what to do.”

Founding member of the choir Nikki-Orinda Dudley added: “We decided to try to form a community choir about a year ago and approached Coleg Harlech for their help. Without their help we would never have got the choir off the ground - staff have shown their enthusiasm and clearly want to see us succeed."

Coleg Harlech’s Site and Short Course Administrator, Sarah Jones, said: "The idea for a community choir is certainly a good one and when we were approached we agreed to organise a non-accredited short course, I am pleased it has taken off and look forward to hearing them sing.”

For more information about joining the choir contact Sarah Jones or Carys Wigglesworth at Coleg Harlech on 01766 781920.

Erw Groes staff flourish on the Essential Skills project

Staff at Erw Groes housing scheme in Holywell have been making the most of the Essential Skills in the Workplace project to support their residents.

Stuart Walls, Senior Project Officer, explained: “Erw Groes is a temporary Supported Living Scheme managed by Clwyd Alyn Housing Association for families who have either become or are at risk of being homeless. The support staff are spending more and more time on the computer these days and I was looking for a course to help them.

“I contacted Coleg Harlech WEA and they explained this project would provide the training we needed free of charge. It has been very successful, six staff followed the course and all completed. I have seen them develop a lot, they are definitely more confident now. The tutor, Diane Roberts, has been very flexible - she’s tailored the sessions to support their day to day jobs and come in at times to suit them.”
Amy Morris, Project Worker said: “I’ve found the course very useful as it has been directly relevant to the work I do. We often help residents to write formal letters so we created a template which means we can all use the same format.

Colleague Toni Doyle added “One of the things I did was to run a competition with the residents to see who could grow the tallest sunflower. This involved creating a poster and letting the residents know about it.

Tutor Diane Roberts said “I am very pleased with the way the staff at Erw Groes have responded, they’ve worked very and will all gain a level 2 qualification in Supporting People with Essential Skills Needs.

Learners at Caia Park inspire Assembly Member

Lesley Griffiths AM presented certificates to six inspirational young women at the Coleg Harlech WEA awards ceremony at Caia Park, Wrexham and praised the women on their achievements she said “It’s always good to celebrate success. I’m very pleased to present them with their hard earned certificates.”

Nicola Holmes, Coleg Harlech WEA Development Worker explained, “The students have successfully completed the Pathway to Progression Course, this is a very demanding course and requires a lot of commitment. The students have worked really hard and most have had to juggle study alongside bringing up young children and working, I am so proud of what they have achieved. Although they hadn’t done well in school they have all passed this course and been offered places at university.”

Student Becky Paice said “I tried to do the course 2 years ago but I had just had a baby and found it very difficult. I came back determined to do it this time despite losing my Nan just before it started. I didn’t get good grades at school and I knew I wouldn’t get into college or university, the health visitor told me about this course and I’m glad she did as I have now got a place at Glyndwr University to do a foundation degree in Health and Social Care.”

Other successful students are Amanda Padley, Rebecca Penk, Alisha Burns, Sam Acton and Sian Davies


Music Technology learners from Bethesda launch first Album

Since winning the battle of the bands competition at Betheda's rock festival in the summer Rhyd Radio, who were members of the Coleg Harlech WEA Music Technology course in Bethesda, have gone from strength to strength and are now launching their first Album.

The courses were run in conjunction with Menter Iaith and were led by Aled Hughes (Cowbois) and Huw Owen (Mr Huw). There was an emphasis on recording and also included elements of performing, arranging, history of Welsh rock music and the importance to the Bethesda community. The courses were part of Bethesda's Rock Festival in late August and the Battle of the Bands was held at Neuadd Ogwen.

Since then they have gained considerable recognition. On March 21 they were in Cardiff launching their first album on the label Unhealthy before setting out to promote it. Their music is described as bilingual punk and hip-hop. The band made a big impression on the producers and White Maffia Gai Toms and were supported in their recording studios in Llanerfyl and Blaenau Ffestiniog.

Band members are Antony Roberts (who studied on the full time music technology course at Coleg Harlech), Rhys Bowen Harris and Cai and Callum O'Mara.

'Smile' is a winnr at Zoom Young Filmmakers Awards

Congratulations to Katrin Dallimore who won in the 'Best Direction' category at the Zoom Young Filmmakers Awards, fantastic news and recognition of the contributions made by all the members who took part in the Reach the Heightts project in Conwy.

Steven Swindon of TAPE who delivered the project for Coleg Harlech WEA through Conwy CAMHS, said "The young people had not met or done any filmmaking before but despite this, they very quickly developed the ideas, storyboard and dialogue for the film. Over the course of the project, the group worked very closely to develop and shoot all their ideas, with an attention to detail which was very impressive. This precise development of their ideas continued through the edit process and I believe can be seen in the finished film. All the ideas on screen and in the soundtrack belong to the young people in the group".

Follow this link to view the video

'Sam the Dog' is inspiring welsh learners

Dafydd Rhys, learning manager explained “We recently had the pleasure of working with Emyr Llywelyn and Aberystwyth University to develop a unique course 'Do and Tell' (Sam the Dog) which was piloted in primary schools in Merioneth. The success of this pilot has been the relationship between the children, their parents and the school".

Delyth Jones, Head Teacher commented “The resource 'Sam the Dog' is engaging, fun. After the workshops parents have shown much greater interest in their children's early reading skills.Sessions were presented to the children initially, then parents were invited into school for 10 minutes before the end the day to see them have fun while learning welsh. Parents were then given the opportunity to attend ‘Welsh without Stress’ sessions using the same methods and vocabulary".

A parent on the pilot said “I really enjoyed the course which was especially aimed at things children will talk about. I can now support what they are learning at school from home.”
For more information (in welsh) or contact Dafydd Rhys 01248 353254.

Learner Imogen gives something back as a teacher

Open Minds project-Imogen gives praise at conferenceA Young Flintshire woman fought her way back from the depths of depression to gain the qualifications she needed to help others in the same situation.

Her debilitating condition meant that 28-year-old Imogen Garbett, from Cadole, near Mold, would spend weeks locked up her bedroom because she couldn’t face talking to anyone.

But then she enrolled on an Open College Network (OCN) course in volunteering at Flintshire Mind, which was run by Coleg Harlech WEA’s Open Minds project and funded by the Lottery.

From her strong start, Imogen went on to complete a further Open Minds course in peer mentoring at a community venue in Mold, and it was while she was on this course that she became a support worker on an Open Minds cookery course with Flintshire Mind.

Superstar Lyndsey's reversal of fortune

Lyndsey praises the Open Minds projectA young Wrexham woman who was homeless for two years has spoken of how the ground-breaking Open Minds project helped turn her life around.

Lyndsey Phillipps, 24, lived a nomadic existence after a relationship break-up before finding accommodation at Clwyd Alyn Wrexham Foyer.

It was while she was there that she enrolled on an accredited cookery and life skills course which was part of the Open Minds project. Designed and delivered since June 2009 by Coleg Harlech WEA and funded by the lottery, this gives learning opportunities to people who have or are at risk of developing mental health issues.

Diane Roberts, who was the tutor on the Open Minds course Lyndsey took while at Wrexham Foyer, said: “I call her my superstar. “She did an excellent job on the course and then later when she returned as a volunteer support worker".

The Thief - short film by Reach the Heights learners

This short film was written, performed and filmed by students who took part in a two day OCN Complete Video Production course with Camalz Media. Part of the Reach The Heights project by Coleg Harlech WEA.
Reach the Heights is funded by Arts Council Wales. The project is designed to encourage young people who are not in Education Employment or training, or at risk of this, to develop through performing arts activities. The programme at Coleg Harlech WEA includes a wide range of help for recording, dance, music, acting sound and lighting, and set design.


Reach the Heights Learners produced this video, vocals by Anya Spencer-Turner

Reach the Heights is funded by Arts Council Wales. The project is designed to encourage young people who are not in Education Employment or training, or at risk of this, to develop through performing arts activities. The programme at Coleg Harlech WEA includes a wide range of help for recording, dance, music, acting sound and lighting, and set design.


Drama students given new voice by timeless classic

wea flintshire drama groupA famous Dylan Thomas play for voices is been given a new twist by a group of budding thespians.

Drama students have been working on a version of Thomas’s best known and most popular work, Under Milk Wood.
It's being put on thanks to a collaboration between adult education specialists Coleg Harlech WEA, Holywell Communities First and the Flintshire-based Trap Door Theatre Productions,

The cast of 22 mainly Holywell-based actors are all students on a course in performing arts and have been drawn from all sections of the community.
They brought the timeless masterpiece, celebrating a day in the life of a small Welsh fishing village, Llareggub, to life at the Stiwt Theatre, Rhos, near Wrexham


Cecilia stirs Mid-Wales melting pot

spanish class in powys go to spainAn adult education college is helping an international workforce make their home in Mid Wales.
Coleg Harlech WEA is teaching people from Russia, Slovakia and Poland who have settled in Welshpool and Newtown to speak English.

Adding to the multi-cultural melting pot is the tutor - a Spanish speaking lecturer, born in Argentina.

Cecilia Forsythe is also teaching some of her students Spanish, which is now the most commonly used language in the World.
And she is taking a party of 30 students to Madrid to immerse themselves in Spanish culture.


Caring Robin looks to future thanks to pioneering Coleg Harlech scheme

After a lifetime in industry a special job programme for the long term unemployed has opened Robin Hughes’ eyes to a new career in caring for others.

The 54-year-old father-of-two has not worked full-time since 2008 after illness cost him his job at Anglesey Aluminium.

Job applications which never even got a response disheartened him, but then he was introduced to Intermediate Labour Market (ILM) scheme run by Coleg Harlech WEA.

The scheme pays wages to long term unemployed people on specially created temporary jobs.Robin has spent three months working at the Tyddyn Môn farm visitor centre at Brynrefail, Dulas, near Amlwch.
Tyddyn Mon manager Linda Walne said: “He got on so well with all our service users. He did everything we asked of him and I think it really boosted his confidence."


Congratulations to our Gardeners in Powys!

To the Powys area office and all the hard work done by horticultural learners in north Powys WEA who were supported by funding from a variety of projects.

They were invited to exhibit a garden to the Royal Welsh Spring Festival in Builth Wells and came away with a well deserved Highly Commended.

The show is a major atttaction drawing crowds in excess of 24,000 over the weekend. Many visitors to the show stopped to sit down in the garden and comment on the clever design, using reclaimed and recycled materials such as plastic bottles and an old car battery.

Along with the low cost aspect, the other idea for the garden is that it should be wildlife friendly and as such many of the plants chosen are attractive to insects. The small pond should also bring in insects, amphibians and birds and the raised beds provide nooks and crannies between the bottles for creatures to hide and over winter.

Tutor Dave Burridge who supported the learners said the aim was to prove that you can create a beautiful, peaceful garden on a small budget, and this was recognised by all who voted.

Colourful career beckons for Colin thanks to Coleg Harlech project

At 52, with two redundancies behind him, Colin Williams would not have thought a colourful new career was on the horizon.
But Colin, from Bangor, is now hoping to set up his own business working with stained glass thanks to an employment project run by Coleg Harlech WEA.

The Intermediate Labour Market (ILM) project pays wages to unemployed people while they learn new skills,

He’s just about to complete placement with top stained glass maker Mike Lees, who’s based at Talwrn near Llangefni on Anglesey.

Father-of-two Colin, of Vaynol Park, Bangor, said: “It’s been very good for me, a very positive experience and helped focus my thinking on self-employment as the way forward for me.”


Llanrwst drama class wins Award at Conwy One Act Play competition

Llanrwst drama class tutor craig ryderLearners from a Coleg Harlech WEA drama class were thrilled to pick up the Adjudicators Choice Award at the One Act Play competition in Conwy last weekend.

The play, called Chavenue, was the culmination of a drama course run in Llanrwst. The learners not only performed but also devised and wrote the play under the guidance of their tutor, West End actor and native of Llanrwst, Craig Ryder.

Craig explained that the class only started in October, they didn’t know each other at that time and most had no prior experience of acting. He said “I am so proud of their achievement, they have progressed so quickly in a short period of time, it has been wonderful to see their confidence grow every week and to get this award is incredible. The course is called ‘Stars of the Community’ and they have certainly lived up to it!”

Learner Yvonne Townley explained that Chavenue evolved out of a series of improvisation sessions so everyone had a role in writing the play. It is located on a council estate and follows a couple who are getting married however the bride’s sister has had a child with the groom, a fact the bride is unaware of – many complications and comic situations emerge as the drama develops.


Coleg Harlech create a safe haven

ILM create new garden at Hafal PorthmadogA new garden in Porthmadog is providing an oasis of calm for people with mental health problems.

It's been created over the past five weeks by a team from Coleg Harlech WEA as part of an Intermediate Labour Market project to help participants escape the dole queue.

They have transformed the rundown land which belongs to Hafal, a charity working with people with mental health issues. The organisation could not afford to turn the messy and overgrown space into a place for service users to relax but Coleg Harlech came to the rescue.

According to Chris Eastwood, the Vice Chair of Hafal, everyone is overjoyed with the new garden.
Mr Eastwood said: “Coleg Harlech have been kind enough to send in some work placement people who have transformed our garden from what was a pretty unsightly mess into a low maintenance and very enjoyable space.


Ground-breaking project that helps people grow

Ponthafren gardening project with WEA  Open MindsMature students on a pioneering gardening course in Mid-Wales are making history - as well as growing fruit and veg.

The "life-changing" Open Minds project in Newtown has been designed to help people who have or who are at risk of suffering mental health problems.

It's being run in partnership with the mental health charity, the Ponthafren Association, in Longbridge Street.
The green-fingered students are in the process of investigating setting up a social enterprise to sell produce and possibly even offer garden design and landscaping services in the future.

Five of them are also studying for qualifications in horticulture based ‘Progression’ and ‘Employability’ with Diplomas accredited by Agored Cymru.
It's believed they are the first in Wales to study for such demanding diplomas through a mental health centre.

Their achievements impressed two Mid and West Wales AMs, Rebecca Evans and Joyce Watson, who came on a visit.
Rebecca Evans said: "It's fantastic, I don't think a single inch has gone unused and their plans to develop further are very ambitious."
Joyce Watson, a keen gardener herself, added: "I understand how people can learn skills in a relaxed way and how they can literally see the fruits of their labour and how that will give them confidence in itself."


Quilters keep Wales Air Ambulance flying high

A team of talented quilters from Anglesey are helping to keep the Wales Air Ambulance flying.
The group who meet at Beaumaris Leisure Centre raised more than £400 by raffling a special quilt they made.

Meanwhile, their tutor, Alison Chapman, is in the running for a top award.
She has been nominated for one of the prestigious Niace Inspire Awards for her work with Coleg Harlech WEA.
Alison runs a total of seven weekly quilting classes for Coleg Harlech, six of them on Anglesey and the other one in Bangor.

She said: "Some of the students here have been with me for about 10 years so I keep having to find new things for them to do. “The Air Ambulance quilt was project we did in partnership with a local artist, Jayne Huskisson, who's now become a patch-worker herself.

The money was accepted on behalf of the Wales Air Ambulance by Eifion Jones, perhaps better known as Jonsi from his days as a Radio Cymru presenter.


Bright Future in Military for Young Actor who was made Homeless

A young man from Gwynedd who is looking forward to a bright future in the military after being made homeless two years ago had one of the starring roles in a hard-hitting play organised by the Caernarfon based charity, GISDA. The play, which was staged at Coleg Harlech’s theatre, tackled hard hitting subjects such as self harm, bullying, and housing issues for young people, something which Anthony, who now shares a house in Dolgellau, has his own very personal experience of.

Taking the lead role of Jessie in the GISDA performance was Seren Cynfal, 17, of Llan Ffestiniog, who has formed her own links with Coleg Harlech by signing up for a special scheme called the Intermediate Labour Market (ILM).

Seren said: “Jessie is quite a challenging part to play because she has a lot of things on her mind and her life is very mixed up because she is facing a lot of issues.

“The good thing about being at Coleg Harlech is that I have had a chance to use some of their facilities – like the recording studio - so I am getting a really well rounded look at performing arts from all different sides, both being on the stage and being behind it too.”

The production has been funded with help from a joint initiative by the Welsh Government and Arts Council for Wales via a project known as Reach the Heights which is aimed at reducing the number of young people in Wales who are not in education, employment or training.


College is just the job for Seren and Gran

ILM intermediate labour market project harlechSeventeen year old Seren Cynfal is getting plenty of support after starting work in college - from her grandmother!

Both Seren and her nain, Anwen Jones, 56, have signed up for ILM projects at Coleg Harlech WEA, the second chance organisation.

They're taking part in the Intermediate Labour Market (ILM) project which provides short term employment whilst helping unemployed people find work.It is being run in conjunction with the Wales Council for Voluntary Action.

Seren, who lives in Llan Ffestiniog, said: “Not many people get to go work with their nain! I’m really enjoying the project and learning new skills all the time.

“Since being here I have had tests and discovered I’m dyslexic, something I was unaware of at school.


Students put Flintshire in focus

A group of talented mature students have captured the visual beauty of Flintshire in a stunning photographic exhibition.Their work has earned rave reviews after going on show at the Holywell Art and Craft Mill.

The pictures are the culmination of an artistic collaboration between Coleg Harlech Workers’ Educational Association and Holywell Communities First.

The students got to grips with a fully accredited beginners' course in digital photographer and editing at the Art and Craft Mill.

Coleg Harlech course tutor Keith Stanley was extremely proud after casting his critical eye over their work and said: “It has been a pleasure to lead a wonderful group of highly talented students. We set them the task of taking pictures on the theme of Flintshire Scenes for this exhibition of their work.


Top gallery showcases work of artistic friends

open minds exhibitionThe work of two friends whose artistic talents have, in the past, been seen only by friends and family is currently on display in one of North Wales’s top galleries. Ann Harrison and Angela Brown could hardly disguise their pride as they viewed their efforts among the exhibits at Plas Glyn y Weddw in Llanbedrog.

The exhibition, which runs until Christmas, was made possible only because the pair from Trefor, near Caernarfon, became involved in a pioneering scheme run by Coleg Harlech WEA.

Two years ago the college launched the Open Minds project, working in partnership with other groups which support people with mental health problems or at risk of developing such problems.Under the scheme, which is funded by the National Lottery and which operates across North Wales and into Powys, a range of courses is held which can be tailored to suit the needs of different groups.

Ann and Angela have both been regular attenders at the Felin Fach Drop-in Centre in Pwllheli which offers various activities and resources for those with mental health issues, and they were delighted when the Open Minds art course began in May.


From Bulgaria with love for the Welsh language

A nurse from Bulgaria is so passionate about her adopted homeland after settling in Flintshire that she and her family are learning Welsh.

Tanya Trotter has signed up for a ground-breaking new course which was launched today (Sunday, July 31) by the Coleg Harlech Workers’ Educational Association at the National Eisteddfod in Wrexham.

Tanya, 47, said: “Living in Wales, I felt it was good for us to learn more about Wales, and the language and everything related to the country. It was a combined decision.

The Welsh for the Family course provided her with the “perfect opportunity” to learn the language while continuing her job, she said.
And she is already reaping the benefits of her new ability to speak in Welsh at work.
“There are Welsh speaking patients and sometimes they are excited if I say something in Welsh to them. It's good. It's fun,” she said.
“It helps me to get to know them better. I can already see benefits.”
More information