From education to employment

WEA community tutor scoops gold award

WEA community tutor scoops gold award

Community tutor Chris Hailey-Norris has picked up a Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) Learner Support Gold Award during the education charity’s annual round of awards.

Chris teaches WEA volunteering and mentoring courses at Levels 1 and 2, for both people looking for work and those in employment, at his Selby-based community charity Up For Yorkshire

He was nominated for the award due to his ability to make every learner feel special and important. Chris engages people who maybe lack confidence to participate in classes and makes them feel comfortable with others and themselves. He also understands the difficulties learners often face and helps them to identify how they can make positive changes to their lives.

Chris has a very personal approach and enthusiastic optimism which helps people to get through the door and enjoy themselves as they learn. Some of his learners have reached out to him when they are at rock-bottom, emotionally, financially and educationally. He goes above and beyond and has helped many learners re-build their lives and confidence to the extent they are now supporting others.

He’s worked at the charity Up For Yorkshire for the past 15 years which has been supporting communities and individuals since 1976. During this time he’s been teaching classes in the Selby-based centre, the last ten in partnership with the WEA.

Chris said: “The WEA’s a wonderful partnership. The courses are a great tool to really change people’s view of learning, they’re so often a gateway for people who’ve never achieved qualifications and maybe have a very negative view of learning from their school days.

“People who’ve started off just needing to build their confidence are now running their own charitable organisations or have secured paid work and are coming back to specific courses to enhance the roles they’re working on. It’s so rewarding to see such progress.”

Simon Parkinson, Chief Executive of the WEA, was at a ceremony in Sheffield to celebrate the charity’s annual award winners, including Chris and a group of community interpreting learners.

Simon said: “I’m so proud of our tutors and learners who use their skills to actively support the lives of others in their communities.

“Chris is a great asset to the WEA and has clearly shown how partnership working with his charity Up For Yorkshire creates fantastic opportunities for people returning to learning. We’re lucky to have him onboard.

“Courses like our mentoring and volunteering courses are vital as they don’t require previous qualifications, which makes them a great entry back into education without it feeling like school. This shows why community learning is vital for the country where education sadly remains out of reach for too many.”

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