“It’s such a difficult time, if you’re unemployed or on furlough, as there is little certainty as to when things will pick up.” says Linda Hughes, Head of Skills at the Foundation of Light, the official charity of Sunderland AFC. “So we have launched a new range of free online training courses especially for those whose employment is affected by COVID-19. These courses not only provide a qualification but also a support service during this difficult time.”
The ‘Isolation to Education’ programme offers fifteen specially created courses, designed for anyone aged over nineteen. The online training helps those furloughed or made redundant by helping them to gain qualifications through re-training or giving them support to develop a new CV or interview techniques.
Despite only being launched a matter of weeks ago, around 150 people have already taken the online learning courses.
Linda continues: “We have a proven track record in helping people to re-build their confidence, supporting them to re-train and explore further learning opportunities either within our programmes or with our partners.”
The courses which are aligned to the National Curriculum, are also helping bring families with Key Stage 1 and 2 children together during the COVID-19 crisis.
Linda adds: “Providing a structured learning environment at home for many parents is a challenge. The aim of Isolation to Education is to make learning easy, fun and engaging for the whole family using everyday materials which are already available in the home.”
The Towers family from Houghton-le-Spring have been the first to pass a course, with mum Laura and children Heidi and Marco all working together to complete it. They signed up to the Family Learning Murder Mystery Maths course.
Mum Laura said: “I can highly recommend this course for any parents who are looking for ways to help their children engage with their maths work.
“Sarah, our tutor, was really supportive and my children were always enthusiastic when it came to starting the next piece of work.
“Throughout the course, we were able to work together as a team and the children were able to both improve their maths and learn a range of other skills which will be very useful for them.”
The new family courses include, Football Manager Challenge, Mental Health Heroes, Healthy Eating at Home, Learning Through Literature and Murder Mystery Maths.
Families completing the courses will be awarded their own certificate from Sunderland AFC mascots Samson and Delilah and will also be invited to a special party at the charity’s home, the Beacon of Light, once lockdown is lifted.
The courses take around 10-12 hours to complete and help families across the region create a structured and fun learning environment at home.
The Foundation has also created six new accredited adult learning courses that have been designed for anyone living alone but can also be expanded to involve the whole family. For those carrying a Level One award, these courses offer a range of subjects including Home-Cooking, Health and Fitness and Work Skills. The programme also includes a Social Action award which accredits anyone who is already volunteering or supporting volunteers to help with the national effort against COVID-19.
Linda adds: “We have be fortunate that the programme has been supported by funds from a local initiative called ‘Sunderland Together’ which brought together a number of organisations from the football community including Wearside supporters’ groups, Sunderland Branch Liaison Council, and the Red and White Army joined forces with Sunderland AFC . The initiative has raised vital funds for charities like ourselves, Washington Mind, the Salvation Army and Veterans in Crisis who are tackling food poverty, social isolation, poor mental health and unemployment during the pandemic.”
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