Inaugural awards evening celebrates success of Adult Learning and Skills service

Achievements of some of Cambridgeshire’s most inspirational learners, volunteers and local learning partners were celebrated at a special awards ceremony.

Cambridgeshire County Council hosted the inaugural #BeInspired Adult Learning and Skills Awards 2017 to celebrate the achievements of our learners and partners over the last year. The event was sponsored by a number of local and national organisations.

County Councillor Lis Every was among the guests at the awards at Ely College, which were presented by her and Lynsi Hayward-Smith, Head of Adult Learning and Skills at the county council.

Among the winners was Zainab Jurabay, who won the Inspirational Learner Award. The mother-of-three, who lives in Cambridge, came to the city as a refugee from Afghanistan and her only way of communicating was smiling and saying ‘sorry’ a lot. But after two terms on the English for Speakers of Other Languages course, run by theAdult Learning and Skills service, her communication skills have gone from strength to strength.

Nominating her, Tutor Kasia Pluta said: “By the end of the second term, not only could Zainab name all the body parts, but for the first time we found out her surname, the names of her three children, that she left her parents, two brothers and three sisters in Afghanistan; her husband is a taxi driver and that she doesn’t like rain in England.

“When she introduced herself during the last lesson of the term the class applauded and we had tears in our eyes. I have never witnessed such a collective sense of pride.”

Another winner was single mum-of-two, Louise Hill, who was awarded the top prize in the Career Progression category. Before joining the Huntingdon Adult Learning and Skills Centre in 2016, she did not have any school qualifications and was working as a cleaner for a few hours’ a week, lacked confidence and was suffering bouts of depression.

Despite experiencing a number of personal issues, she has now completed a number of IT and English qualifications and has been accepted for a part-time job.

Christine Dade, Adult Learning Skills Tutor who nominated her, said: “From the initial meeting when Louise struggled to communicate, smile or ask for any assistance without prompting, she had the self-confidence to deliver an excellent presentation during her Level 1 speaking and listening assessment. Louise now talks openly and is excited about starting her new job.”

Sam Clift, who has volunteered as a Digital Champion for nine years, was the winner of the Inspiring Volunteer Award after bringing a club that teaches people internet skills who are over the age of 55 or disabled at St Vincent’s Community Centre in Girton “to life”.

Nominating him Nyree Scott, Project Manager for Adult Learning and Skills,said:  “Nine years ago, the only thing that existed in this scheme was a simple lone machine in the corner of the community communal room. Sam became a volunteer and brought Internet Club 55 “to life”. Today he is still at the head of the group and on most Monday mornings the club is almost bursting at the seams with more than 30 people in attendance.”

Cllr Mathew Shuter, Highways & Community Infrastructure committee chairman, said:“The achievements of our learners and partners over the last academic year have been truly inspirational. Their success will hopefully encourage others to join a class in the future.”

The Adult Learning and Skills Service aims to help individuals, communities and businesses fulfil their potential and to grow, giving them access to a variety of support including careers advice and a range of support for skills development and routes into employment.   More details can be found on the website here:

A full list of the winners:

  • Inspirational Learner: Zaynab Jurabay (sponsored by The Good Things Foundation)
  • Inspiring Supporter: Christine Dade (sponsored by The Education & Training Foundation)
  • Excellent Volunteer Group: Anita Feltell and Kevin Ball (Manea Internet Club) (sponsored by Rotary Club of Ely)
  • Inspiring Volunteer: Sam Clift (sponsored by Rotary Club of Ely
  • Excellent Partner: Andrew Hodgkinson (Ely JCP) (sponsored by Tesco Huntingdon)
  • Excellent Provider: GAP Learning CIC
  • Getting into Work: Samir Osman
  • Supporting into Work: Mark Hawking (Switch Now CIC) and Kenny Cox (March Adult Learning and Skills Centre)
  • Career Progression Award: Louise Hill

Some of the winners of the Adult Learning and Skills awards