NIACE and Homeless Link combine to make learning work for homeless adults

20 March 2014

Recent developments in policy, research and practice on supporting adults who are homeless, or at risk of homelessness, to access and sustain learning opportunities were shared at NIACE’s joint national conference with Homeless Link.

Learning for Everyone equipped providers of homelessness services with practical steps and approaches to help them support their clients. Participants received a free copy of the latest edition of The Really Useful Book of Learning & Earning which contains useful advice and practical support for adults using homelessness services, alongside stories of inspirational learners like former Adult Learners’ Week award winner Frank Harris.

Following 35 years in and out of prison, addicted to cocaine and time spent living on the streets, Frank transformed his life through learning. In just four years he quit drugs, gained ‘A’ grade GCSEs, and started training in counselling to support vulnerable people. He said:

“My learning has empowered me and given me the belief that my future is in my hands… I now feel liberated and free from the fear of prison and addiction.”

Another former Adult Learners’ Week award winner, Lydia Wall, who began attending a Millinery class at London’s Skylight Centre run by homeless charity, Crisis, in 2007, was one of the conference speakers. Despite her homeless situation, Lydia achieved an HNC followed by a year’s work at Philip Treacy Millinery and now runs her own successful millinery business. She displaying a selection of her hats at the conference.

Sue Southwood, NIACE Programme Manager, said:

“There are many challenges facing charities working in this sector including access to funding for education and training, lack of research about what works, and barriers to working with clients with more complex needs. But for someone who is homeless, engaging in learning activities can help to build social networks away from the streets and the skills developed can lay the foundations for more formal training and pathways to employment as a longer-term route out of homelessness.

“This is exactly why we’re really pleased to partner with Homeless Link to offer a conference which will explore how to put learning at the heart of any plan to support adults facing the challenge of homelessness and hear from a range of organisations that are already doing this.”

The Really Useful Book of Learning and Earning (RUBLE) is a free resource for adults using homelessness services to help them think about their learning and development, plan ahead and develop strategies for achieving their goals.

The book contains information, advice and activities to support people to take positive steps forward in their lives. It includes:

  • activities to encourage people to think positively and to reflect on the skills they have and the skills they would like to develop;
  • information about different types of learning and the benefits of learning, with examples of the positive difference that learning has made to people who have been homeless;
  • hints and tips about applying for jobs, creating a CV, and going to interviews;
  • details about self-employment and volunteering, and links to further information and sources of support;
  • advice and support on action planning and setting short, medium and long-term goals;
  • diary pages to help people stay organised and in control;
  • ideas to encourage positive health and well-being, and to support people to manage their money; and
  • links to useful websites and helplines.