Mark - a student completing courses at Open Door with WEA tutor, Sheila Paton

‘Five years ago I had never heard of the WEA or the confidence courses it runs. To my mind confidence was something you either had or didn’t have, it couldn’t be created.

At that time my life was a total disaster. I was in my mid-thirties, no qualifications, zero confidence and about the same level of focus. My health wasn’t at the best, I had just been told that my spine was in the process of fusing and my thought process was of maybe never working again, or in a job that would give me no satisfaction. My advisor at the Job Centre persuaded me to do the course in Confidence Building and Transferable Skills, but I was unsure whether it would really help or was it just so he could tick a box. I turned up for the first session with several others and the course tutor told us about the course, what was involved. The ten week course flew by and to my utmost amazement the course was showing me how to slowly become more confident. I signed up immediately for the next courses Manage Your Emotions and Confidence in Action. I also started on a six week Level 1 Mental Awareness course that I passed.

This, along with a comment made by the course tutor, led me to explore other qualifications. Over the past four years I have passed my Foundation Skills Maths at Level 2, equal to half a C at GCSE. I’ve nearly finished my Foundation English L2 course, I have completed a course on Working with Children Level 1 and I am now part way through a Level 2 Support Learning and Work in Schools course. This, when I have completed the full course, will enable me to get a job as a Level 2 Teaching Assistant.

Since finishing the Confidence courses I have returned to help out those who may need help for whatever reason. I hope these visits helping out and talking about how the courses have changed my life gives them the hope and knowledge that these courses can help, and also to show that everyone has confidence you just need to be shown how to start the confidence fi re, as I was.

Do I still get blips in my confidence? Yes, but it isn’t any worse than a minor problem. When it happens it is usually caused by someone trying to put me down. When this happens, I get out my course folder if needed, and remind myself of one important thing. I decide what I answer to, not other people’.