“My journey to WEA has been pretty incredible,” Jay says. “I’m part of the Gypsy culture. I’ve been involved in crime, I’ve done some time. I never went to school, the English I was taught was from my uncle, and my wife, god bless her soul.” 

“I found out about WEA through the Jobcentre. I’ve learned how to construct sentences, and generally hold a conversation. I’ve learnt how to manage my stress, and how to ask for help.” 

In July 2022 Jay successfully completed the WEA Level 1 Award in Stress Awareness, his first ever qualification. He has completed nine WEA courses, including ‘Managing Family Dynamics’, ‘Managing Your Emotions’, and ‘Getting ready for Work or Volunteering’.

Jay sitting down in a chair

“My community are all word of mouth; what they know, they’ve been taught from generation to generation. I’ve kind of broken the cycle of that,” he said. “I think I’ve made quite a bit of progress, and I think learning with WEA has helped quite a lot. I’m going to keep on learning. WEA has opened that up for me.” 

Jay is determined to set up a community farm, a place where people can find out more about animals. He’s also exploring volunteering opportunities and working towards his next Level 1 Award, this time in Mental Health Awareness. 

“Jay is an inspiration. He has shared his story, his cultural heritage, his challenges, and opened up more and more about his aspirations,” said Chris Hailey-Norris, the WEA Tutor who nominated Jay. “He is changing his life for the better, he has joined an employment programme, is forming friendships, and finding out who he really is.”

Video transcript

My name is Jay and I've won the Academic Excellence Award.

My life journey to WEA has been pretty incredible, I'm part of the Gypsy culture. Been involved in crime, I've done a bit of time. I never went to school, the English that I was taught I was taught from my uncle, my wife, God bless us all.

I got told about WEA through the job centre. I've learned how to construct sentences and generally hold the conversation.

I've learned how to manage my stress and I've learned how to ask for help.

My community like that they're all word of mouth so like that what they know they've been taught by generation to generation. Like I kind of broke the cycle with that.

When I found out for a boss man that's pretty cool I don't think it's like properly sunk in yet. I feel pretty proud because I've never really won anything before/

I think I've progressed quite a bit I think learning with WEA helped quite a lot.

Jay was the winner of the WEA Learner award for academic excellence, sponsored by the Learning and Work Institute, at the 2022 WEA Awards.

Lady in yellow jumper learning with the WEA on her laptop

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