College reaches out to local community
The last year has been a huge challenge for us all but it is heartening to know that there are still positive things going on within our region.
Dundee and Angus College recently secured more funding to continue its drive to increase engagement with the most vulnerable members of our communities and break the long-term cycle disadvantaged young people can face.
The college’s exciting Find Your Future programme, which began in March 2019, has had considerable success in achieving positive outcomes. An impressive 75% of participants who completed its courses reached a positive destination within six months.
The programme has been funded by the Scottish Funding Council’s (SFC’s) Tackling Child Poverty Fund. Last year the Scottish Government made up to £400,000 available to the college sector from the Tackling Child Poverty Fund. Given the impact of Covid-19, colleges were encouraged to work with partners to increase support to young people and families who need it most.
College partners are keen to offer continued support:
“It is wonderful to see many of our parents achieving well and moving onto higher levels of education. This would not have happened without the college’s support.” Estelle Coulthard, Young Parents Coordinator, Home-Start Dundee
“It is essential now through the COVID-19 recovery to continue to support projects like this. A strength of this approach is working collaboratively across the area to reach those young people who have fallen through the net, and it has been life-changing for them.” Scott Gibson, Chair of Angus Community Planning Partnership
“The project’s activities are ideally aligned with the city’s strategy to achieve fairness and reduce poverty in Dundee.” Peter Allan, Community Planning Manager, Dundee City Council
“As Scotland faces up to the challenge of Covid-19, it is more important than ever that we tackle poverty and disadvantage wherever it exists. As part of our commitment to making education more accessible, SFC is delighted to fund this work and to enable Dundee and Angus College to deliver much needed support within its local community.” James Dunphy, SFC’s Director for Access, Learning and Outcomes
Even with the potentially catastrophic effects of Covid-19, college teams are continuing to work hard to reach these young people and keep them motivated and engaged.
The Community Engagement team liaises with agencies across the public and third sector, including schools, learning centres and charities, and by utilising this collective expertise, it means the team is able to build a picture of where these disadvantaged youngsters are and how the college can effectively help them.
The Employability Team has strengthened its links with various recruitment partners and training providers to further develop local knowledge and assess potential employment opportunities.
The whole programme will provide opportunities for young people to engage in behavioural change, boost self-confidence and positively impact physical and mental wellbeing. They will develop employability skills while gaining introductions to employers and a guaranteed interview for further training. At the end of the courses they will have created a sustainable action plan for the future.
D&A College is delighted that this important work has been featured as good educational practice at a national level. It was also recently recognised by the College Development Network when the Find Your Future initiative won the Inclusive College Award 2020. The college now intends to launch new courses (Covid-dependent) focussing on working in the countryside, gaming and young parents.
Learner Engagement Manager, Katie Baxter, sums up the success of the project:
“Our no-barriers approach has given these young people free travel, childcare costs, food and refreshments. This means that they turn up ready to learn, and this is wonderful to see.”