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Year End UpdateFollowing the success of this pilot programme, with all targets being met or exceeded, an extension of the contract has been awarded to Chesterfield College to deliver a further three cohorts. Funding from the Adult Learner Responsive Fund is also being used to match fund the WNF.During Quarter 4, additional sessions were delivered in response to feedback from focus groups. These additions included an employer visit, guest speakers, and a volunteering morning.

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Raising Aspirations (Adults - Chesterfield College) - Case Studies

Case Study 9

C is a 37 year old, single mum with four children from Bolsover, she currently claims Job Seekers Allowance. As a lone parent, C had no other option but to leave work when she became pregnant with her third child, she has been out of the working environment for nine years.

C was referred to the Raising Aspirations project by Bolsover Jobcentre.

Her work experience was limited due to her family commitments; previously she had worked as a cleaner and in various newsagents as a cashier. She had no qualifications and very little confidence in herself or her abilities. During her initial interview though, she was very positive about enrolling on to the course, particularly the opportunity of meeting new people and interacting with other adults. C's situation before the course was very isolated and quite lonely.

C engaged with all the areas of the programme, her regular one-to-ones revealed that she was growing in confidence and motivation every week. She communicated well with other members of the group and was very popular, building strong friendships with others who she found were in a similar situation to her. For the first time in 10 years C realised that she was not alone.

By the end of the course, C had met and exceeded all targets set. Her situation now is very different to 16 weeks ago. She has enrolled on a Chesterfield College Adult Numeracy and Adult Literacy Level 2 qualification, ITQ qualification and is currently on a work experience placement at Chesterfield College as an Administration Assistant.

C, was not surprisingly, awarded a ‘Superwoman’ certificate at the end of the programme to highlight how far she had come. Her achievement has been amazing. C has had to completely come out of her comfort zone, she has challenged and motivated herself and is a shining example of what can be accomplished.  We are very proud of C, Raising Aspirations is happy to support this determined and highly capable individual. Her journey will continue.


Case Study 8

M commenced the Raising Aspirations Course in June 2011.

M Shown a keen interest in working with animals but felt that her confidence and personal situation was holding her back from applying for these roles or starting a course in that industry. M had been suffering with depression and anxiety for some time and was worried by the concept of entering employment.  

Throughout the course M began to build confidence in the group and started to believe that she could apply her skills in new areas. With the help from her LSO started to look into voluntary work.

A voluntary placement was found at Ace Animal Equine Centre. M was worried about attending for the first day as it was some distance to travel and she had to get there very early, but M has embraced her voluntary work and has dedicated over 16 hours per week to help the centre and support the business.

Since commencing voluntary work M has also commenced a Level 1 Land Based studies course. This course is for 8 hours per week and will last 8 months. She is learning on the job and also securing a recognised qualification.

M is now looking to complete her course and apply for employment opportunities within the animal/environmental sector. Her confidence has improved and she feels more relaxed about entering employment.     


Case Study 7

PB is currently claiming Incapacity Benefit; he suffers with a wide range of health conditions including arthritis, back pain and depression. When he first met with the Learning Support Officer (LSO) he admitted to suffering from very low confidence and stated that he rarely left the house, he did not enjoy socialising and was extremely unhappy. PB was unsure about attending the course but he chose to enrol and gave it a chance.

During the one to one support PB received he was encouraged to seek voluntary work to help him to apply his skills and continue to meet new people. Voluntary work was also encouraged to allow PB to address his health conditions within a working environment. PB has not worked for many years and needed to gain an understanding of his capabilities. He was reluctant and unsure but then chose to apply to Clowne Community Transport as a Passenger Assistant. PB undertook training with the organisation and completed a CRB check. He then committed to volunteering one morning per week. Due to PB’s commitment to volunteering he was offered the opportunity to undertake training as a Bus Driver.  PB passed his Bus Driving Test which also boosted his confidence.

PB showed excellent commitment to the course. He missed only 2 sessions due to undertaking his driving course with Clowne Community Transport. Throughout the course PB learnt to work in groups with others and began to enjoy the social aspect of the course.

PB decided that his IT skills were very limited and he expressed an interest in taking a course. The LSO sourced an IT course at Limestone House which would provide him with the necessary skills he required.  PB has now completed and passed the Raising Aspirations qualification. He has also completed the IT course at Limestone House and is still volunteering at Clowne Community Transport for one morning every week.  PB has also enrolled on Adult Literacy and Numeracy courses with Chesterfield College. PB has always felt under confident about his mathematic skills and feels the course will build his ability.

PB’s journey with Raising Aspirations has allowed him to gain access to training and voluntary opportunities that he was unaware of. His confidence has dramatically improved. PB’s experience has now brought him closer to the labour market and allowed him to be more active and involved in his local community.

Raising Aspirations will continue to support PB with monthly workshops. He has expressed an interest in applying for paid employment; the team will now assist PB with job search. 


Case Study 6

L came to Raising Aspirations not sure what to do next after spending 5 years raising her family. She had been through a difficult time personally, and her confidence was low. L became pregnant half was through a music degree and so was unable to complete it. She knew she wanted to work in education and become a teacher but without a degree she did not know how to go about this.

We spoke to L about completing her PTLLS course, as this would be a good introduction to teaching and she could then make an informed decision as to whether this career was for her.  She passed with flying colours, and showed so much potential that Chesterfield College has enrolled her as a voluntary teaching assistant on the Raising Aspirations project in Clowne!

“Raising Aspirations has given me the confidence to realise my full potential.  It has offered me work opportunities within education, and also support to achieve this which has helped me to improve my job prospects. I have continued to volunteer on the Raising Aspirations project as I feel it is a very worthwhile cause, and I can give back some of the support I received to others”. - L 


Case Study 5

J came to Raising Aspirations to explore career options available to her after recently having a baby.  She was keen to research into options for self employment, to fit work around her new baby.

J decided to look into jewellery making as it is something she could do in her own time.  She went on a short taster course at the Hub in South Normanton and decided that it was for her!

We then put her in touch with LEO coaching who advised her on becoming self employed, and she realised it was not as scary as it initially sounded.

“I am hoping to sell my jewellery online and at craft fairs. I went on a jewellery making course and now I am seeing LEO coaching who are helping to get my business started”. - J

J will be selling her jewellery at her first craft fair in Derbyshire in July, and we wish her the best of luck!


What do previous learners think? Find out from the Raising Aspirations website.

“I love coming to Raising Aspirations, I love all the new friends and teachers, its not going to be the same without Raising Aspirations” NW, South Normanton

“I have enjoyed myself and made some new friends that i hope to catch up with when we leave. I have loved mixing and working together as a team and have enjoyed the opportunity to work with the tutor” CB, South Normanton

“I have really enjoyed being on this course. I am now starting a college course and voluntary work. Hopefully this time next year I will be back at work, as a teaching assistant. Thank you! I will miss all the new friends I have made” EH, South Normanton

“This course has helped me to take the next step in the job / career that i want to do in the future. I have made some lovely, lifetime friends and I’m going to miss it very much” SJ, South Normanton

“I have been at Raising Aspirations for the last 16 weeks, I really enjoyed it. My tutor really helped me in getting me on a teaching assistant’s course and finding a voluntary placement, thank you” LG, South Normanton

“I really enjoyed coming to the course. It helped me to do a CV and gain more confidence”  AB, South Normanton

“I have enjoyed this course; before I started I didn’t have any confidence, now I feel I can move on alot better in life” MN, Shirebrook

“I have enjoyed the course; it has improved my confidence with people and in job situations and has led me on to other courses” JJ, Shirebrook

“I thought the course was very useful and the staff helpful and friendly” PP, Shirebrook


Case Study 4

BB enrolled on the Raising Aspirations course after being referred by Jobcentre Plus. Previous to the Raising Aspirations course BB had been a carer for his brother for many years until he sadly passed away. BB rarely left the house only going out once or twice a week to collect his groceries. He led an isolated life and began to feel that he needed to make a change but was unsure how to do this. After BB’s referral Peter Smith, the Learning Support Officer for Shirebrook, contacted him and asked him to come and meet him for an informal chat. Peter went through what the course entailed with BB and explained why it would benefit him. BB felt quite overwhelmed with the prospect of the course so went away to have think about whether it was right for him. Two days later BB came back and asked to enroll onto the course to “give it a try as long as not a lot of writing or working on them computer things.”

On the first day BB was one of the first to arrive and sat at the furthest end of the table away from others. He refused all efforts to come closer and join the rest and would not take his coat or hat off. He even refused refreshments. Everyone in the group tried to involve BB in conversation and include him in activities but he would not get involved. This carried on for a period of about three weeks. Peter felt that if BB was ever to make any progress he would need to get more integrated within the group. Peter addressed these issues at BB’s fortnightly one-to-one mentoring session. These sessions are designed so that the tutor and learner can talk about issues specific to the individual and work together to decide how the issues will be resolved or improved upon. They discussed the benefits of mixing with the rest of the group and the positive effects it could have on BB’s situation. BB went away to think about what they had discussed.

Over the next few weeks BB changed completely, firstly he attended a course for people who wanted to work in care in Chesterfield which he enjoyed. However, it brought back too many painful memories of caring for his brother and so he decided against a career in care. When attending classes he took his coat and hat off, smartened up his appearance, began to make conversation with everybody, began making refreshments for everyone and took played an active part in team activities.

He attended a confidence course run over three weeks and at the end of the last session bought everyone cream cakes to say thank you. BB continued to progress since the end of his Raising Aspirations course. He has enrolled to be a volunteer gardener at one of the local schools, has applied for a part-time post at a local horticultural farm and is currently studying literacy and numeracy at the local Adult Education Centre which will run for the next 30 weeks ending in an extra qualification for him.

Case Study 3

JS had relocated to Derbyshire in April 2010.  She is a very active member of the community, and a very compassionate and caring person. Through initial one-to-one sessions Lindsey, her tutor, discovered that JS is a talented artist, and is skilled in arts and crafts. She also has a talent for writing, and her tales of traveling around the Middle East are inspiring.

JS has been encouraged through the Raising Aspirations course to follow a career that combines her artistic skills and her ability to relate to people in an engaging and sympathetic way.

JS has engaged with LEO Coaching to help set up her own arts and crafts business; she was initially referred to them when they came to speak to the learners on the Raising Aspirations course. She is looking at possible arts and crafts in schools, old people’s homes, and perhaps even setting up a weekly class in her home town of Shirebrook. She has also been encouraged to sell her crafts online and at local craft fairs through her Raising Aspirations tutor.

She has also been set up with a Word Press account so that she can share her stories on the internet for other people to see and draw inspiration from.

On top of this she has also been successful in securing part time work as a Training Assistant at Groundwork in Clowne which will commence mid January 2011. This work is perfect for JS, as she will help encourage and motivate the learners in a creative and inspiring way. Raising Aspirations staff have no doubt that JS will flourish in this role.

Case Study 2

AM left his shy, quiet and down days behind him after he joined the Raising Aspirations programme based at Chesterfield College’s Clowne Campus. 

Referred to Raising Aspirations by the Shaw Trust, a national charity which supports disabled and disadvantaged people to prepare for work, find jobs and live more independently, AM was very quiet, pessimistic and shy when he arrived.  He was very down, and could not see how Raising Aspirations could help him find employment where everyone else had failed.  His confidence was very low, exacerbated by the fact he suffers from a long term health condition.

AM explains, “Whilst on a horticulture course over a decade ago, I was getting quite severe pain in my lower back and other joints.  A trip to the hospital revealed I had a condition call Fibromyalgia.  Although I have come to terms with the condition, there is no known cure and I have to take regular pain killers.  I’ve applied for many jobs in the past 12 years, but due to my condition and type of prescribed medication employers are very reluctant to take me on.

“I don’t want my condition to stop me working. I think employment would actually improve my condition to be honest.  I just need someone to give me a chance to prove myself as I’m not ready for the scrapheap yet!”

Since AM joined Raising Aspirations, his confidence has sky rocketed.  He has attended all of the sessions and found the CV writing, confidence building and positive thinking elements particularly useful.  AM is now thinking positively about what he can do rather that what he cannot do, and looking to improve in his weak areas.  For example, he is starting an ICT course at Limestone House in September as this is an area he wishes to improve on, and he very much enjoys working with computers.

The link with NHS Derbyshire County's ‘Waistwise’ programme has also been a valuable asset as AM wants to get his fitness back after being unemployed for so many years.  He has started swimming regularly, which is helping both his symptoms and fitness as well as raising his energy levels, and in turn his mood and attitude.

Andrew is more than capable of being a great, hard working employee, and Raising Aspirations have raised his confidence to the point where he can now see this for himself.

“I now feel confident in applying for work on the Bolsover ILM programme, as they can work around my medical issues.  The Raising Aspirations team have done more for me in a few weeks than anyone else has done for me in years” concludes AM.

Case Study 1

At 54 years old, when 'S' first started on the Raising Aspirations programme he was very low in confidence, having not worked for over five years. He had been a single parent for a very long period and had concentrated on bringing up his family. Because 'S' had been unemployed for so long there were times when he only went through the door to take his dog for a walk. 'S' has always been a keen gardener and his hobby in horticulture became his lifeline.

Now that his family have grown up and flown the nest 'S' has decided to have a go at a new opportunity.  After attending volunteering placements in the past and helping some of his neighbours out by doing their gardening, 'S' has decided to broaden his horizons by joining the Raising Aspirations programme.

When he first started on Raising Aspirations he was very anxious and a little withdrawn but after just a couple sessions, 'S' gradually started to
come out of his shell and really interact with everyone on the project.

He is now an active member in team building sessions, is very vocal in discussions and has really tried to get “his head” around the qualification he is undertaking.

S's confidence has grown; he has chosen the work placement unit as one of his optional units for the qualification to help get him back into the world of work.  Better still, his Learning Support Officer has been able to secure him a work placement at a local garden centre which will enable him to gain work experience doing something he is passionate about.

During the past couple of weeks 'S' has overcome his initial reservations and concerns and achieved the following:

  • Become a volunteer at his favourite football club as a stretcher-bearer.
  • Has found work experience and been successful in obtaining a three week placement in garden maintenance and horticulture
  • Has signed up for a computer course for beginners in August.

'S', who said recently, "I am really enjoying this course, it has really helped me, I didn't think it would but it really has", is thinking of moving into further education at the end of Raising Aspirations to study horticulture and hopefully start up his own garden maintenance business in the future.

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