Inspirational 95-year-old veteran among residents celebrated at our Adult Learning Awards

We’re celebrating the achievements of our dedicated adult learners, including inspirational 95-year-old veteran Tony Blakely.

The annual awards evening is a culmination of a year of hard work from residents in the borough who have taken part in our adult learning service in 2022-23.

Veteran Tony Blakley, our oldest ever learner, has family across the globe including Canada, South Africa, and Bristol and as he lives alone, he wanted to learn how to use technology to stay in touch with the people he loves.

Thanks to Veterans Charity Royal Marines Association, Tony was able to get a tablet and WiFi at home and with the help of his tutor Jack he began a journey of learning how to use the tablet, type on the keyboard, take photos and send messages.

His sheer determination and hard work both in the classroom and at home paid off and Tony has not only mastered using the tablet, but he received a special recognition award from the Council.

He is now in constant contact with family around the world including receiving and sending his own photos, something he said wouldn’t have been possible without the help of his tutor and Royal Marines Association.

Tony was in great company on the night as awards including young learner of the year, group learners of the year and adult learner of the year were handed out to the winners.

Those winners included Sharon Haley who was awarded ‘Adult Learner of the Year’ for her journey with the adult learning service.

When Sharon experienced a personal loss in December 2023, she felt lost and unsure what her next steps would be as she had been a full-time carer.

To set a new routine, she signed up to a Functional ICT courses which quickly led to her confidence growing and after accessing employment support too, she landed herself a job with the Council’s Adult Social Care service as an Admin Assistant.

The full list of winners is:

  • Young Learner of the Year (16–18-year-old learners) – Joint winner Chris Power and Alisha Blakelock
  • English and Maths Learner of the Year – Samantha Taylor
  • Group learner of the Year – Get into Tynemouth Castle Inn
  • Apprentice of the year – Olivia Wrightson
  • Adult Learner of the Year winner – Sharon Haley
  • Adult Learner of the year highly commended – Tracey McGuigan
  • Special recognition award – Tony Blakey

Cllr Steven Phillips, cabinet member responsible for Inclusion, Employment and Skills at North Tyneside Council, said: “We believe everyone in the borough deserves access to training, employment and skills and this year’s winners are all proof that learning never stops and there’s always opportunities to grow and develop.

“We have a fantastic offer here in North Tyneside with dedicated and expert teams leading brilliant courses and offering all kinds of support and that’s something I’m extremely proud of.

“From young learners like Chris and Alisha achieving so much and having a positive impact in their roles to residents like Tracy McGuigan who juggled learning with a busy family life and achieved her goals, there’s so much to be celebrated.

“I’d like to congratulate every person involved in these fantastic achievements, from our employment and skills team right through to the friends and family of the learners who supported them on their journey. You’re all inspirational.”

Earlier this year our Adult Learning Service was rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted with ‘outstanding’ features.

We offers everything from English and Maths qualifications through to specific training and access courses for careers. If you’re interested in enrolling, find out more here: www.skillsnorthtyneside.org.uk

Successful working well hub opens its doors in Wallsend

The doors to Working Well North Tyneside’s latest hub in Wallsend were officially opened this week.

Our employment, health and skills hub has celebrated major success at its flagship hub in North Shields and now Wallsend residents can benefit from the one-stop-shop for advice and support.

A space on the first floor of Wallsend’s Customer First Centre has been transformed to make way for the hub. A move that’s part of the Council’s recent announcement that the Customer First Centre is set to become one of six community hubs in North Tyneside.

Thousands of residents have benefited from the service so far. From accessing jobs with local and national employers to enrolling on specialist training, the expansive offer at the hub is tailored to meet the needs of local residents.

One of the schemes success stories is Yuilla, who fled Ukraine last year with her 8-year-old son and had been learning English to improve her job prospects.

She visited the North Shields Hub after enrolling on a course with Newcastle College and completing work experience at the council.

Her employment advisor was on hand to help and arranged a meeting with Tyneside Women’s Health as they were looking for a finance assistant volunteer.

Yuilla is now being mentored by the Finance Officer and has good prospects of accessing paid employment.

Alongside the Council’s expert Employment and Skills Team, the hub will host partners including Cedarwood Trust, the National Careers Service and North Tyneside Citizen’s Advice, who will be on hand to address wider barriers to employment including debt, physical and mental health, and housing.

Tackling health barriers is a key ambition of the hub as it’s clear that a job with a sufficient income to meet daily needs is vital for residents’ wellbeing.

The hub will create opportunities to meet with Northumbria NHS team, providing wellbeing advice as well as offering ‘How’s your Heart’ blood pressure and atrial fibrillation checks.

Cllr Karen Clark, Cabinet Member for Public Health, and Wellbeing at North Tyneside Council, said: “The success of the Working Well model is something we’re all immensely proud of and I’m delighted that residents now have access to this fantastic service in the North East of the borough.

“More than 4000 residents have now accessed support from our teams and our brilliant partners, and significant numbers of people have gone onto employment, training or volunteering. We’ll see these numbers increase even more as our new hub gets up and running.

“We know that being in good work is better for your health and we’ve partnered with a range of brilliant services and work with employers across the region to make this a reality for our residents.

“The latest hub is a culmination of a lot of our ambitions. From our aspirations for Wallsend’s regeneration to achieving our Equally Well health strategy and I look forward to hearing even more success stories.”

The team will kick start an exciting range of events with a Christmas Job Fair on Wednesday 4 October, where residents can find out more about the seasonal jobs on offer. It’ll take place in Wallsend Indoor Market and is running in partnership with Jobcentre Plus and Reed.

It’s an exciting time for Wallsend as the opening forms part of the authorities ambitious vision to create a vibrant and connected town that will be attractive to residents, visitors and prospective employers.

The Ambition for Wallsend is built around three key priorities; improving the quality of the housing offer, enhancing the appearance of the street scene and public spaces, and ensuring that residents are connected to and well-prepared for good, high-quality jobs.

The Working Well North Tyneside hub will open from 9.30am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday, walk ins are welcome.

Success for ‘Get into Tynemouth Castle Inn’

Group of people sitting at St James' Park, all of whom attended the Get into Tynemouth Castle Inn course

Following our ‘Get into Tynemouth Castle Inn’ course, 14 of the attendees are now employed at Tynemouth Castle Inn. The recruitment manager at Tynemouth Castle Inn couldn’t have been happier with the outcomes following the course.

They said, “Thank you for your help and support with our recruitment drive.

“It was really professionally organised and the change in candidates from the start to the interviews was remarkable.”

Keep an eye out for our future ‘Get into’ courses on our website and social media channels for a boost in getting that next new job.

Wallsend set to welcome pioneering employment hub

Wallsend Customer First Centre has today been announced as the location for the latest Working Well hub in North Tyneside.

Following the success of the pioneering hub in North Shields, the Working Well service is expanding to the west of the borough this September.

Thanks to funding from the North of Tyne Combined Authority, work is now underway to transform a space on the first floor of the customer service centre into a one-stop-shop for employment, skills, and health support.

As well as expert employment support there will be information and advice on hand to address wider barriers to employment including debt, physical and mental health, and housing.

The Working Well model established by North Tyneside Council has proven its success in recent months, with the flagship North Shields hub welcoming almost 4000 visitors so far.

Nick, a resident who benefited first hand from the support on offer, speaks highly of the hub: “It’s strange to think I didn’t even know the place existed. Three trips to the Working Well hub resulted in me being able to work again, I’d like to thank them for the service they provide for people like me.

“It’s a fantastic resource and I’d recommend it to anyone who is serious about getting back to work.”

The hub forms part of North Tyneside Council’s ambitious vision for Wallsend to be a vibrant and connected town that will be attractive to residents, visitors and prospective employers.

The Ambition for Wallsend is built around three key priorities; improving the quality of the housing offer, enhancing the appearance of the street scene and public spaces and ensuring that residents are connected to and well-prepared for good, high-quality jobs.

Cllr Steven Phillips, Cabinet Member for Inclusion, Employment and Skills at North Tyneside Council, said: “The success stories we’ve seen come from the North Shields hub have been fantastic, from supporting local people back into employment to helping businesses fill vital roles it has been a joy to see the service succeed.

“As we expand into Wallsend, I’m delighted that we’ll be making this service more accessible to residents and support our ambitions to ensure residents in Wallsend are prepared for high-quality jobs.

“I look forward to seeing the hub open and thriving at the heart of Wallsend soon.”

The Working Well North Tyneside hub will open from 9.30am to 3.30pm Monday to Friday, walk ins are welcome.

Ofsted praises North Tyneside’s Adult Learning Service

Learners, officer, and councillors are celebrating the news that North Tyneside Council’s adult learner service has maintained its ‘good’ provider status following it’s latest Ofsted visit.

‘Well-planned and implemented programmes that interest learners and stimulate a love of learning’. That’s the feedback from Ofsted inspectors published in a report today 27 July 2023.

With four ‘good’ and four ‘outstanding’ gradings, North Tyneside’s adult learning service has cemented its place as a brilliant place for adults in the borough to access training and learning.

The inspectors completed an in-depth inspection of the service over four days in June, speaking to learners and apprentices, observing teaching, and learning and speaking to managers and partners of the service.

The glowing report outlines how learners feel ‘very welcome, safe and secure’ while attending classes, workshops, and placements and that they make ‘very rapid progress from their starting points’ which instils an enthusiasm about their next steps.

The Adult Learning Service is open to all adults in North Tyneside to access learning opportunities, from distance learning courses and week-long specialist courses through to year-long workplace placements and qualifications.

It’s ‘get into’ employability courses, which include education, social care, welding and much more, is praised as an ‘effectively established working partnership which helps employers recruit into roles that may be hard to fill.

Tutors across the service were praised too for their use of ‘innovation teaching and assessment strategies’ to keep learners engaged in the programmes and inspectors described them as ‘well qualified to teach in their subject specialisms’.

Cllr Steven Phillips, Cabinet Member for Inclusion, Employment and Skills at North Tyneside Council, said: “Going under the microscope for an Ofsted inspection can be intimidating, but I’m absolutely delighted that the inspectors had the opportunity to see first hand the fantastic offer we have in North Tyneside for our adult learners.

“From employment events through to gaining qualifications, there’s so much going on in our borough to ensure everyone has the opportunity to gain new skills and have a career they’re proud of and that shines through in this report.

“I’d like to thank everyone involved in the inspection including our brilliant learners and our dedicated Employment and Skills Team who work hard every day to create and deliver these opportunities for our residents.”

North Tyneside’s Adult Learning Service offers a huge range of courses and opportunities all designed to help residents get back into work, learn something new or upskill themselves. New courses were recently added for 2023-24, you can find out more here.

The full report can be found here.