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Islington woman turns her life around and wins adult learning award

PUBLISHED: 07:00 05 November 2020 | UPDATED: 14:05 05 November 2020

Liz Collins was given this year�s Festival of Learning�s Return to Learning award, which is sponsored by City Lit, organised by the Learning and Work Institute and supported by the Department for Education. Picture:The Learning and Work Institute

Liz Collins was given this year�s Festival of Learning�s Return to Learning award, which is sponsored by City Lit, organised by the Learning and Work Institute and supported by the Department for Education. Picture:The Learning and Work Institute

The Learning and Work Institute

An Islington support worker has won an award for turning her life around in adult education.

Liz Collins was given this year’s Festival of Learning’s Return to Learning award, which is sponsored by City Lit, organised by the Learning and Work Institute and supported by the Department for Education.

Growing up in care and leaving school with few qualifications, mum Liz said she was “very depressed and very low for long time” because she “had no life”.

READ MORE: Islington charity for vulnerable women bags national award

However, Liz was inspired to go back to class after watching a documentary about adult learners and enrolled on an Introduction to Adult Social Care course with Islington Council’s Adult Community Learning service.

The 55-year-old is now a support worker for people with profound needs.

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“It has completely changed my life,” Liz said. “Now I realise that I can actually learn, and I am quite bright. I feel like I could do anything.

“That’s an incredible feeling, to be 55 and suddenly realise actually you are not stupid, you can learn and you can go on and have a really good career.”

The annual Festival of Learning celebrates the power of learning and encourages adults into education.

Colin Gardiner, lead tutor at Islington Adult Community Learning and Liz’s tutor, said: “Liz has blossomed. Her life has purpose and she is embarking on a rewarding career made possible by taking a course in adult social care.”

Cllr Asima Shaikh, Islington Council’s executive member for inclusive economy and jobs, said: “Taking that first step back into education as an adult might seem daunting at first, but Liz has proved that it is totally worthwhile and for many people can be utterly life changing.”

Stephen Evans, chief executive of the Learning and Work Institute, said stories like Liz’s “show us how transformative lifelong learning can be” for individuals, families, communities and society.

He said: “As we look to build back better after the pandemic, we need to redouble our efforts to provide access to lifelong learning opportunities for all.”


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