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In Cheshire and Warrington, Unreachable Learners Are Gaining Invaluable Skills

In Cheshire and Warrington, learners who were previously thought to be unreachable are gaining invaluable skills thanks to a new, innovative approach to training. Tutors from South Cheshire and Mid Cheshire College are working with outreach workers, community liaison officers and support organizations to gain access to the “Traveller” community. “This partnership approach has been vital to overcome the communitys suspicion of outsiders and help us gain their trust and confidence”, added Mid Cheshire College tutor, Marjorie Hallsworth.

Recognising the power and potential of storytelling as a route to improved literacy and communication skills, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC), BBC, NIACE and voluntary and community organisations, set up the project as an alternative to more traditional styles currently failing to attract people from marginalised groups. The “Tell Us Your Story” project uses the age-old custom of storytelling to deliver an informal, creative and flexible project that is attracting adult from traditionally hard to reach groups, such as travelers and those with mental health problems.

“Establishing a good rapport early on has been crucial to project success. Regular visits to traveller sites has helped tutors to establish good relationships with the community and as a result, has allowed learners to write and record their stories in a familiar, safe, environment,” said South Cheshire College Skills for Life tutor, Judith Bannister.

To equip them with the creative skills to deliver the project, Cheshire & Warrington tutors have been receiving expert tuition from Inside Lives BBC Producer, Marie Crook. Through an intensive two-day workshop tutors have learnt ice-breaking activities and storytelling activities, discovering how to draw out ideas for stories.

Upon completion, graduates gain an Open College certification, take away copies of their recorded story, and many hear their stories broadcast online as part of the BBCs Inside Lives project. Project graduates have experienced significant improvement in their literacy skills, while newly found self-confidence has inspired learners to progress to more formal training. This is the first step in a series of many that could have some life changing benefits.

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