Cardiff Met Journeys

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At Cardiff Metropolitan University we aim to ensure that adults of any background or ethnic group are given a fair and equal opportunity to study in a supported manner. We are committed to ensuring that everyone with the determination, skills and desire to access Higher Education should be able to do so. We work to provide opportunities for adult learners in their own communities, targeting those who have not previously had the opportunity to study in Higher Education. We understand how important it is to work closely with local communities to help raise aspirations and encourage people who think Higher Education is “not for them” to start thinking about the opportunities available. This is our fifth edition of the Widening Access ‘Journeys’ publication. The idea behind these booklets is to celebrate the success of Learners and to hopefully inspire others who may be considering returning to learning.



All the stories are told in the learners’ own words and show how they have succeeded by overcoming a wide range of barriers. They all show the difference learning has made and how their lives have improved through the process.

We are sharing their stories with you in the hope you find them so inspirational that you are moved into taking the steps necessary to develop your own interests and find your own learning path.

Each of their journeys show how with the right support and advice students grow in confidence and self-belief, and often gain qualifications that they previously would not have believed possible.

If you are inspired to start your Higher Education journey, we have a range of FREE short taster and accredited courses which are designed to provide a pathway to study at University.

For further details visit




Taff Housing Association is an ‘anchor’ organisation for inner city Cardiff by helping to create inclusive communities and building on people’s strengths and abilities. We believe that a person’s past does not have to dictate their future and work with individuals and communities to develop their resilience, aspirations and ambitions. We have fully embraced a co-productive and connected future and partner with organisations who share our mission, such as Cardiff Metropolitan University’s Widening Access Team, to provide a foundation from which a person’s future can develop. By utilising each other’s strengths, non-traditional learners are able to engage in courses that are accessible and flexible and led by experienced tutors. Many learners who have previously disengaged with employment, education and training develop theoretical knowledge through access courses and later progress onto university degrees. The first cohort of learners who came on Widening Access courses at Taff back in 2015, have recently graduated. Many learners chose to also volunteer through Taff’s Building Futures programme to gain practical experience and develop their knowledge. Support from the Widening Access Team and Taff provides learners with the confidence to achieve their goals and it is inspiring to witness these journeys.

HMP Prescoed strive to provide a rehabilitative service for those who are in custody in order to reduce the likelihood of reoffending. We have the opportunity in our D Category open prison to make partnerships with community projects, business groups and education providers. Gaining these working relationships and successful partnerships is not always easy and often unsuccessful. Cardiff Metropolitan University are the exception. The Widening Access team have accepted our establishment into their academic community, not only accepting some of our learners onto undergraduate degrees (following a stringent disclosure process) but making our establishment a site by which many courses have been delivered. At HMP Prescoed we have already had many courses delivered by Cardiff Met. Giving our men an insight into university level education is absolutely brilliant, as it not only increases the individuals’ employability by improving their qualifications and experience but offers an insight into higher learning. Long may this continue!

Matthew Jones Teacher/Education Officer link based at HMP Prescoed

Clare Dickinson Senior Community Investment Officer, Taff Housing Association



The programme of courses that have been delivered at Ely Hub for the local community have been life changing. From the point of engagement, individuals could present as feeling very negative about their lives. Some could have very limited communication skills, low self-esteem, low aspirations and many had given up on ever achieving qualiďŹ cations, let alone accessing University. The beneďŹ ts of partnership working with Cardiff Metropolitan University, using a Community based approach, offering continuous 1:1 support, encouragement, and skill building, has provided individuals the opportunities to grow emotionally, expand their knowledge and skills and reach their end goals. In turn this has maximised results for the local community and employment opportunities. Since working in partnership under this model 46 Learners from the Ely Community have progressed to study at University.

Donna Hurley Adult Mentor, Communities for Work



I look back fondly at my primary school education (Baden Powell Primary School, Tremorfa). The education and teachers were inspiring and the building and facilities were incredible. It was indeed a very happy time in my life. Just before my final year at Baden Powell we moved to Roath, which deeply upset me. My father assured me that I would make friends at my new school, and he happily accompanied me on my first day at Roath Park Primary School, but sadly passed away soon after. I went onto attend Llanrumney High School for Girls as my feeder school; Ty Celyn (Cardiff High) was full to capacity. Only a handful of pupils from my primary school made the same transition, consequently, I was separated from the few new friends I had made. My time at high school was miserable due to daily taunts, as anyone from Roath was perceived to be “posh”, this prevailed for almost 2 years. Consequently my attainments left a lot to be desired and I could not wait to leave; which I did a month before my 15th birthday in 1970.

Higher education was only attainable for those who could afford it during the 70s and I was deemed ‘not clever’ enough, despite getting off to a ‘flying start’ in primary school; I went on to achieve only average grades. I was married and gave birth to my first child by the age of 20, and returned to full time employment soon after. I spent my free time supporting my widowed mum and I became the sole wage earner due to my husband’s mental illness. Spare time was at a premium as my mother became ill and increasingly dependent upon me as she aged. When my daughter was almost 17 years old, I gave birth to my second child at the age of 36, and enjoyed mature motherhood so much so that I completed my family with another child at the age of 39. During my time as a full-time mum, I attended night school IT classes in preparation for returning to work.

After spending some years looking for work, I lost every shred of confidence and subsequently gave up. It was a rather dark period in my life. I attended several Summer School courses organised by Widening Access which I could not have imagined would have been so enjoyable. Apart from the experience of learning within a university setting, the friends and acquaintances made along the way, made it all the more worthwhile. The tutors were delightfully friendly and the courses were so interesting that I was quite sad when they ended. After Summer School, I enrolled on an accredited Widening Access Psychology outreach course and passing this enabled me to enrol on the Foundation leading to BA/BSc Social Sciences degree at Cardiff Met. I didn’t have much time to really think about it, with hindsight it is just as well because I would not have had the courage, at my age, to ‘take the plunge’. My friends and family were not aware I was on a degree course, as I did not believe that I was capable of gaining a degree I wanted to spare myself the embarrassment if I failed. I managed to keep the secret during my Foundation year but ‘let the cat out of the bag’ at the beginning on the first year. My family were somewhat surprised but also supportive.

I found that all the staff at Cardiff Met – without exception – to be personable, approachable, enthusiastic in their subject and happy to help in any way that they could. The Widening Access team are also deserving of praise, as they were unstinting with their encouragement and guidance. I still find it difficult to believe that I graduated in Psychology with a 2:1. I cannot deny that the course was very challenging, having been out of education for some 47 years, but I relished every day. I would never have believed that a learning environment could be so enjoyable and fulfilling and I know that I am going to miss it terribly. I would definitely recommend attending as many Summer School and outreach Widening Access courses as you can. Apart from the personal interest perspective, these courses are enjoyable and raise self-esteem, increasing confidence and the added bonus is making many new and interesting friends that you might otherwise have not met.

I would also say that if I can do it, then I firmly believe that anyone – regardless of age or education – can do it! The positivity in my life began when I became acquainted with Cardiff Met’s Widening Access team. Without their dedication and commitment to adult learners, I certainly would not be on my amazing learning journey right now. I can honestly say that this period has been one of the happiest of my life. To make matters even more amazing, I am the first person in my family to attend university, and I will be graduating in the same year as my granddaughter!

BERYL O’BRIEN Graduated 2:1 BSc Psychology (2018)



I have had an exciting career working as both a performer and entertainer, teaching workshops alongside being an administrator and project manager, mainly in the community arts and community development sectors. It wasn’t until my 40s that I started academic study in Cardiff through life-long learning and eventually gained enough credits for my Certificate of Higher Education. I then embarked on my Master’s Degree - Arts in the Community which I completed in 2010. This opportunity developed my interest in how the creative arts can contribute to our well-being and I worked in this field for a while which I really enjoyed.

A few years ago I had to take a career break and I gradually lost my confidence, which along with not having sufficient funds stopped me from continuing my education. This was frustrating as I had come to understand how much learning was benefiting me. Attending the Widening Access Summer School at Cardiff Met was a brilliant opportunity to start studying again and to meet lots of other people doing the same thing. The students came from all walks of life and were all different ages, most had never studied at university level before. It was lots of fun and the tutors encouraged us to draw on our life and work experiences and share ideas. I did the Introduction to Psychology course, something completely new for me and totally fascinating. It is all about human beings, how we think and what influences our behaviour. I also did the Reflective Learning Practice course which teaches you to look at how we learn and how all our life experiences are really valuable. I decided to do the accredited Widening Access module in Psychology and passed with flying colours. The tutors and support staff in Widening Access are amazing and so encouraging. My friends have seen my confidence start to return through my achievements.

I applied to Cardiff Met University to continue my studies as I had been considering doing a PhD as I wanted to learn more about the relationship between taking part in creative activities and the impact on our well-being. Although, I was accepted I simply could not afford the fees at the moment but it is still my dream. For me, if sport is exercise for the body then painting, drama, poetry, music and using our imagination is exercise for the brain. I started working in homelessness in early 2017 and had the chance through work to do my NVQ Level 3 in Advice and Guidance and also, through volunteering for Welsh Women's Aid, my NVQ Level 3 in Training the Trainers. Having completed both successfully, this year I am taking my NVQ Level 4 in Advice & Guidance. The units I did at Cardiff Met were a real help in getting into this kind of work with some of our most vulnerable citizens. I would advise anyone to have a go at learning. Widening Access are there to tell you what is available and support you every step of the way. Whatever course or taster session you choose you will meet new people and have lots of fun.

CATHY ELDER Applied and accepted to do PhD, awaiting funds



 I enjoyed school and went to Boarding School at Nuneaton Boys in Birmingham. I was dyslexic, which was not diagnosed, so I found things very difficult and had a low attention span but I was good at football. I left with a B & C in English GCSEs but was not good at Maths. I went to work in Clark’s Shoes where I became the Manager. I tried an access course in law but gave up to finding it too difficult with my dyslexia. I then started a printing company with some friends, but at the age of 24 one of these friends had a heart attack and died. After this, we lost interest in the business and I gradually got involved in crime ending up in prison for drug offences, although I never took drugs myself. I was sent to Redditch and Market Drayton Prison before Prescoed Prison. I tried to do an Open University course but found it too difficult due to my undiagnosed dyslexia. Getting my dyslexia diagnosis helped as this meant things could be put in place to improve it.

I started my studies at Prescoed doing the Cardiff Met Widening Access – ‘Preparing to Teach Adults’ course as I had a work placement at Solas Poble, which is a drugs rehabilitation centre and the course gave me the skills I needed to be a group facilitator there. Previously, I had distanced myself from the harm drugs did but now I have seen the reality and I would never be involved with drugs again. Some of those at the prison are not supportive of education and they make it as difficult as possible. When I was accepted on the Foundation programme leading to BSc (Hons) Social Sciences, my money was stopped and I couldn’t afford to even buy food for lunch. As a prisoner, I was not allowed to apply for a maintenance loan like other students. Cardiff Met Student Services were a great help and I was able to apply to the Student Hardship Fund, which enabled me to buy food. Another problem was that I had nowhere to keep my books, so lockers were installed at the University to keep them safe. These small things make a huge difference and can be enough to stop people continuing with study. The tutors have been great, I was released the week before my exams and did not know where I would be living as there is no provision once you are released, so this was a very stressful time.

At one point, I was told I would have to go back to Leicester and sit my exams there. Thankfully, the University‘s student services were a great help and family and friends were supportive. I have now completed my sentence and am completing the first year on the undergraduate BSc (Hons) Psychology programme. Although, the course is difficult I am enjoying the challenge and find the course is very informative and opens doors for work. It is very rewarding to study and ultimately I would like to do a PhD. I would say if you have the chance 100% go for it but be prepared for a lot of hard work and be prepared for setbacks. The key is not to look at the things you cannot do but focus on the things you can. Nothing is more beneficial to changing a person and lifestyle than going to University and meeting new people from different backgrounds. It has completely changed my outlook and I even think differently now. University brings out the best in you.

IDENTITY WITHHELD First year BSc (Hons) Psychology student



I’ll admit to not being the best student in my early years. My poor Mum had to face weekly visits from the truancy officer because of my poor attendance record. After intervention from social services, I faced the humiliation of having to redo my fourth and fifth form years. My teachers directed me on to sixth form but after two years of being forced to take exams, which I continuously failed, I chose to opt out. I worked in fast food shops to fund my passage to work abroad for a year. I came back after travelling full of zest and enrolled at Rumney Technical College obtaining 5 ‘O’ levels and 1 ‘A’ Level. I have enjoyed a very interesting and diverse career path, which has not only taken me around the world but also provided for my family. The main feature in my life journey had been the steady stream of caring roles, which I have had to undertake from the age of 14. I cared for my Mum, helped re-habilitate my eldest sister after an assault and along with my husband, as a parent I have had the difficult task of caring for an autistic son.

I spent twenty-six years looking after our son at home taking all my time and effort. However, when my son left home, the opportunity to reconsider my life path occurred and I was ready to address my next challenge. Within two weeks, I found myself enrolled on to a Psychology and Counselling course in Llanrumney Hub. The whole process of enrolment was easy, choice of courses excellent and availability of venues and times could be easily fitted to suit anyone. At the age of 51 it was a daunting task walking into a classroom environment especially after my past track record. However, I was welcomed as an equal, treated with respect and found the diversity of characters on the courses so refreshing compared to prior learning experiences. The adult learning team were excellent. Tutors genuinely want to help you regain those talents hidden inside every individual and with lots of guidance, support and a few laughs, I found myself eager to proceed. With much encouragement from my tutor, I took part in three Widening Access Summer School courses at Cardiff Met.

By visiting the University and actually experiencing university life, I found my learning skills developing, ambition rising and with each certificate gained my confidence grew. Health and Social Sciences caught my interest as I had so much experience and transferable skills already acquired by being an active carer for my son. In addition, the reflective skills course showed me how to learn, how to evaluate what was being taught and it demonstrated that failure too was a learning element. The class structure was fun and easy to understand leading me to submit an essay to assess my reflective skills and gain 10 credits at level 3. All credits collected add to a portfolio for any prospective employer or to gain access to University. My support has come from so many directions including encouragement from my tutors and my fellow class friends as we have all come up through the ranks together. There is an amazing sense of camaraderie amongst us all.

As a mature student, tutors encourage you to recognise and value pre-existing skills from life experiences. Staff, tutors and students work together in all aspects of your learning journey and you are treated as an equal. The Met have an excellent student support service to help with anything from applications, funding and provide help for every student, collectively and individually. Lastly, my wonderful supportive and humorous husband. His promise of making dinner on my ‘school nights’ clinched the deal of joining Cardiff Met. I am now a Cardiff Met student on the 2nd year of my BSc in Health and Social Care. I hope to be able to take this knowledge to gain employment defending the rights of adults with learning difficulties and supporting the families who care for them, after all it is something I have been doing for the last 26 years of my life.

HELEN WITCOMBE Second year BSc (Hons) Health & Social Care



 I am a forty nine year old former solicitor who is currently serving the final two years of a prison sentence for conspiracy to defraud (I was sentenced to twelve years and will serve six). I grew up in a home where education was highly encouraged. I attended Barry Boys’ Comprehensive school before being accepted by UWE at Bristol to read law. I completed the postgraduate part of my legal studies, the Law Society Finals, at the USW at Pontypridd in July 1992. You could say that I was handed a hatful of life chances that should have provided me with the essential credit to make something of my life. However, despite these and my securing an early partnership, as a young property solicitor, I found myself disconnecting from the ethical and professional controls that were in place to protect me.



Property has a unique way of corrupting people; and having become too closely connected to those clients I represented, it became increasingly difficult for me to prioritise ethical and professional principles above the hustling, horse-trading and dishonesty that comes with property development. Initially, I would turn a blind eye to things that should have been obvious to me, in order to keep my conscience clear. However, my contrived ignorance quickly advanced to my direct involvement in mortgage fraud, which ultimately led to my journey to prison. To crib the words from Frost’s The Road Not Taken, my choice of pathway was “the one less travelled by, and that had made all the difference”. I became trapped in a downward spiral of dishonesty and fraud that I found impossible to escape. I became depressed and suicidal, but continued offending in a vain attempt to dig myself out and this is how losses exponentially increased to over £50 million.

Being imprisoned provides you with a mental test each day; yet by remaining positive, focused and determined you can use the experience to regain the self-esteem and pride that you carelessly traded whilst offending. All considered my experiences and efforts to date have provided me with a renewed feeling of self-worth, most notably that my mistakes, whilst deserving of a significant custodial sentence, do not define me as a person moving forwards. I have just completed an MSc in Counter Fraud and Counter Corruption Studies at Portsmouth University by distance learning. It has been challenging studying from prison, but hugely rewarding. By way of my own restorative justice, I selected as my dissertation an empirical self-study to examine a solicitor’s role in mortgage fraud. My thesis intends to challenge current criminological theory whilst providing a useful insight. To date I have received support and encouragement from a number of leading academics.

My quest is not one in which I wish to explain away my conduct, point the proverbial finger elsewhere, whilst eventually bagging a PhD to replace the practicing certificate. What does motivate me is self-discovery and restoration. I left law school scared of my own professional shadow, yet within a decade, I was knees deep in fraud. Why? How? I am starting to find the answers and they go beyond my own human frailties. As of July 2018, I became eligible for day release, which allows me to study outside HMP Prescoed (an open prison). As a distant learner with Portsmouth University, I was faced with a logistical dilemma of having a course but no local university setting from which to conclude my dissertation.

Whilst at HMP Parc I worked as a higher education mentor and became acquainted with Cardiff Met and their Widening Access initiative that seeks to break down the barriers to learning. By supporting adults that have prematurely disengaged from education, for whatever reason, and encouraging their recommencement, this initiative undoubtedly provides a significant social contribution whilst supporting individual development and a positive redirection in a learner’s life pathway. I felt privileged in July 2018 when Cardiff Met opened their door and offered me community membership to their significant library and IT resource. This has allowed me to contemplate my future academic journey, after all; “it is never too late to be what you might have been” (George Eliot).

Whilst I will never be able to repay the huge financial losses my actions caused, I do hope that my rectitude and purpose will provide some pedagogic value. It will also support my motivation to regain some pride in myself as a human being, to thank my wife and children for their unconditional love and support; and to contribute a modest return to the society I failed so spectacularly. Consequently, I remain indebted to the Widening Access team at Cardiff Met.

IDENTITY WITHHELD Completed MSc in Counter Fraud & Counter Corruption Studies and now studying for PhD



My name is Nasrin Ali Mohammed, I am 35 years old; from the Kurdistan region of Iraq. I have been living in the UK for nearly eight years. Before arriving in the UK, I did a Bachelor’s degree in Arabic language at the University of Sulaimani. I worked fulltime as a teacher in a secondary school, until November 2007. In May 2011, I arrived in Britain and settled in Cardiff, as my husband gained a scholarship to study his PhD at Cardiff Metropolitan University. However, due to several problems such as cultural differences, language, finance, family obligation (as I have two children) and my husband’s study, I had no opportunity to study and develop my career. Among these problems, lack of understanding of English language was my major concern to pursue and develop my career. I knew that learning English language is not easy but it is necessary. So, to overcome this barrier, I gradually started doing several short English courses such as ESOL, especially after my husband finished his study.

Although, these courses were not enough to reach my ultimate goal which was studying at university, I took part in some training courses such as Child Psychology, Managing Child Behaviour and, the most recent one, Engendering Change course which were delivered by Cardiff Council. These courses played a significant role not only to improve my English, but also created a chance to understand the education system here better and shaped the way I saw the world, specifically the way I thought about education, culture….etc. My children going to school full time, support and encouragement from my husband and knowing new and different people provided invaluable opportunities to find some paid and unpaid jobs. These jobs allowed me to interact with many different children and adults, of varying ages and cultures across a range of different backgrounds. Specifically, my understanding of the teaching profession has increased through carrying out work placements at two different primary schools as an assistant teacher and organizer. I was working as a volunteer at a primary school; all this led to me seeking an academic course to enrich my experience.

Consequently, in mid-2017 I applied to study a Masters in Education at Cardiff Metropolitan University but I was told I would not be given a place until I got at least a 6.0 score in IELTS. Although, I found it difficult, I was directed to a community centre where Cardiff Metropolitan Widening Access provides training for people who need Academic IELTS training and testing. At that centre, I met several dedicated teachers and tutors who helped us not only to pass the test but also widened our worldview. I am pretty sure without their support and encouragement it would not be possible to overcome such obstacles. As a result, I passed the test and was given an unconditional offer to study Masters in Education at Cardiff Metropolitan University.

Finally, I would like to thank everybody who helped me succeed in achieving my goals, I will tell them your support and assistance is unforgettable and undeniable. I really appreciate your assistance, motivation and encouragement. I would like to remind those reading this story, please always be positive, realise your potential and never give up. In short, why wait for the opportunity, create one by yourself!

NASRIN MOHAMED Studying for MA Education

I have to admit that the financial difficulty remained problematic at that time. Fortunately, I found a scholarship called the Sanctuary Award by Cardiff Metropolitan University. As a result, I applied and won the scholarship. That was a fantastic chance to go to university and start my Masters. The Sanctuary Award scholarship waived all the tuition fees plus gave some extra help. Now I am at the beginning of my study which is Masters in Education.



I attended Willows High School and left with all my GCSEs at grades B and C. I went straight into a hairdressing apprenticeship and worked towards my level one, two and three NVQ in hairdressing. It took me about four years to complete all my qualifications but I became a junior stylist after two years, providing all salon services. I have worked in many salons across Cardiff and gained over ten years’ experience working my way to senior stylist. I felt I had reached my career goals and found myself wondering how I was going to progress further in my career. I found hairdressing enjoyable but a physically demanding job so I was keen to explore a change. I attended Cardiff Met’s Summer School taster day and found myself enrolled onto the PGCE/PCET programme with the goal of learning to teach my profession.

I worked six days a week during my time in Cardiff Met and found it very stressful juggling my time between hairdressing, University and my new work experience at ACT Training. The tutors on course and Student Finance Wales were really supportive and I am so glad I did not give up because I graduated 2 years later with my qualification. I gained a new job in ACT working with 16-19 year olds with additional learning needs. This was not something I expected I would do with my qualification but the opportunity came and I grabbed it. What a rewarding job it was! I recently progressed again in the company and I am now the new Learner Representative. I work alongside the Quality team and represent the views of the learners. My teaching qualification is useful because I hold group forums to gather learner feedback through a variety of methods. I still do hairdressing on the weekends and thoroughly enjoy my new career.

During my studying, I encountered a few struggles to say the least. I could not even format my first essay and I spent days trying to change the font and layout to meet standards. My skills have improved massively because of the course, and I now use technology in my new job daily. I feel like my confidence has developed and this has not only a huge impact on my career but my personal life too. I was very shy when I first started learning to teach but I now deliver to adults daily and feel I overcame so many barriers in gaining my qualification that I will never tell myself I can’t do something again! I would advise any potential new learners to remind yourself that hard work pays off. Do not give up. Do not be afraid to ask for help, utilize the resources and facilities available to you. I made great contacts in Cardiff Met and I gained a new job before I even finished the course. I never expected to be in the job role I am in now but I am so happy in my new career.

LEAH TWINNEY Graduated Professional Certificate in Education



 I was very impressed with the course content and I found the course to be interesting, fun, informative, well-structured and more professional than I was anticipating. I was equally impressed with the teaching style and knowledge of the tutor, who was extremely helpful throughout and was very approachable. In my opinion the tutor delivered the course superbly and was an ideal example to us all as to how a course should be taught. I was very grateful for the opportunity to attend the course and I think the course is a fantastic initiative which should provide real value to most of the participants, whether they continue within the field of teaching or not. It has provided me with a valuable insight into the world of teaching and has given me food for thought in my progressing with further qualifications in the future. I hope that the Widening Access initiative and relationship with HMP Prescoed will continue in the future and that the relationship can be developed further to provide progression on to the next stages of learning and even availability to deliver other courses. I extend my thanks to all involved in making this course available.

IDENTITY WITHHELD Widening Access 10 credit module



 I thought the course was a fascinating empowering introduction, it overturned misconceptions that I had and made me think about inclusivity and unconscious prejudice. I came out of the course feeling more able to deliver instruction to adult learners. I also realised there was much more professionalism to teaching than I had realised. As a result of doing this course I have been motivated to apply to do a postgrad course at university.

IDENTITY WITHHELD Widening Access 10 credit module

 I attended a public secondary and left with 8 GSCEs before moving into full time work and then attending Plymouth University on a degree course. I stopped studying 2 years into my degree course as I was sent to Prison in 2014 on a drugs charge. Working with the team at Cardiff Met helped me to overcome a number of barriers and I was able to attend university on day release to study Graphic Communication BA (Hons). It has helped me greatly in improving my design skills and offering me a new career pathway and a fresh start. My family have been endlessly supportive, along with peers, tutors at the University and in particular Jamie Grundy, without whom none of this would have been possible.

Now my future is bright and I may attend Cardiff in September on a Masters course. My advice to anyone in my position is “Don’t give up. Walls were meant to be climbed. Barriers were meant to be overcome”. From sitting in an 8’x4’ box locked away for up to 23 hours per day, to be sitting in a bustling classroom environment with a year left to my release date, I cannot express in words how much it has meant to me to able to attend Cardiff Met. It has enabled, not only a smooth transition back into the community, but has given me the opportunity to push forward in my professional life and rebuild my career prior to release. Throughout it all I was treated as a student, as opposed to an offender and as a result I now have a degree and a bright future. Cardiff Met are truly pioneering and I hope many like me are granted the same opportunity.

IDENTITY WITHHELD Widening Access 10 credit module



At the beginning of my journey, I was 31 years old, mother to five children, with low expectations of myself. I only ever believed that I could ever be a mother and a housewife. My husband works full-time, which meant I was left alone to raise five children, two of whom are disabled, which I found very demanding. I could not maintain a job, as I was constantly being called to the school, hospital or appointments related to my children’s health and development. By attending an interview with Donna at Ely Hub I was introduced to Adult Community Learning, it has totally transformed my life and enabled me to see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. It has equipped me with life skills, built my confidence and integrated me into a community that I now feel more part of.

Doing courses at Ely Hub has been beneficial to myself, as the children’s schools are very near. The flexible environment that the staff provide has been a lifeline to a parent like myself. By doing free courses at the Hub, I have been able to confidently progress further, with the aim to attend university. This would never have been possible without these courses. I have been able to show my children that anything is possible with the right support and structure. I feel it has given a better opportunity in life as a stepping-stone towards university. I believe that community courses break down barriers in the community, enable people to have hope and a better life and help to educate our children who are our future. I believe that I could not have learnt what I have learned today, had this been in a college, structured environment.

This is a list of courses I have done to date and I hope to continue my journey and do other courses before applying to university: Accredited Psychology – Cardiff Met Widening Access, Mentoring Programme, Safeguarding in Health and Social Care, Food and Hygiene, Child Psychology, Welsh, Designing a game, Counselling Skills, English and Maths.

RUTH O’HANLON Starting Foundation leading to BA/BSc Social Sciences



Winnifreda Tandi was born in February 1964 in Zimbabwe where she attended primary and secondary education. This was not easy because at the time there was not enough learning materials, she had to share a text book between 10 students in a class of 50 pupils and had to buy her own exercise books to write in.

With a little help she managed to overcome barriers that had previously prevented her from achieving her goals. These included the difficulties of settling as a family in a new country with no friends or relatives to help or support her, and no job or decent accommodation, along with the worry of relatives and friends left behind.

When she came to England she was determined that her children would have a good education and was very proud when her children graduated, especially as two of them graduated with first class Masters Degrees in Finance and BA Honours in Accounting & Finance from Cardiff Metropolitan University. Both are now working, one as an internal auditor in a bank and one as a financial analyst.

There were also financial constraints; as her children were classed as international students she had to pay higher tuition fees, which drained all of her savings. It was a great help that the Widening Access courses offered in the community by Cardiff Metropolitan University were free to attend and she signed up. By attending these courses she heard about the Widening Access Summer School and decided to attend, successfully completing a Reflective skills level 3 module.

It was her children who inspired Winnifreda to return to learning and once they were settled, she decided to complete her own education despite her family and friends telling her she was too old.

Her Tutor on this module said “Winnifreda was committed and engaged in her efforts and receptive to feedback which she incorporated into submitting a fantastic portfolio for assessment. On top of that she supported her fellow students with their work and encouraged them to work hard and submit”.

Winnifreda completed several courses in the community and progressed to the accredited level 3 Youth & Community course, which gave her the stepping-stone needed, enabling her to apply for a place at Cardiff Metropolitan University, studying Foundation leading to BA/BSc in Social Sciences. Winnifreda talks of the inspirational community Tutors who gave her a good foundation, guiding her learning, explaining the importance of going back into learning as a mature student and shared their own experiences of studying later in life. Winnifreda was a very deserving winner of an Inspire Award from the Learning and Work Institute. Now working hard on her studies she is planning to volunteer in a youth and community setting. When she qualifies, she is planning to secure employment as a youth and community worker to inspire and empower others.

WINNEFREDA TANDI Second year student BSc (Hons) Housing Studies



Widening Access Cardiff Metropolitan University Western Avenue, Cardiff, CF5 2YB 029 2020 1563 @WideningAccess /wideningaccess

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