We deliver a wide range of courses at the Carlton Centre in Weston-super-Mare, both within a traditional classroom setting at the Carlton Centre itself and in what might be described as outdoor classrooms: for example, an allotments site for gardening courses and a wooded plantation for a bushcraft course. Other subject areas include drama, creative writing, art, patchwork quilting, and IT. On average we provide 45 to 50 hours of adult learning here per week
The Carlton Centre provides a one-stop shop that matches clients toappropriate opportunities through its Advice and Information Service. Referrals come primarily from the community mental health teams in North Somerset and from drug and alcohol services, though people may also refer themselves.
While students on WEA courses are usually from these targeted groups, members of the wider public are invited to join as well – one aim of the partnership is to break down barriers and help tackle the stigma faced in particular by people who have experienced mental ill health. A number of students have gone on to become WEA volunteers, providing practical and mentoring support to others who may be
struggling in their recovery or have had a negative experience of education in the past. There is still work to do to measure the impact on health and wellbeing of attending adult education courses, but feedback from students, both anecdotal and in course evaluations, suggests people feel less anxious and more confident as a result. A woodwork student went so far as to say, “This course saved my life.”