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Jonathan Edwards meets with Personal Best Graduates



Jonathan Edwards presented certificates to the final cohort of Personal Best Graduates from Sussex Downs College at Brighton’s Withdean Stadium recently.


Since May 2009, over 80 adult learners in Sussex, Surrey and the Thames Valley have been participating in the Personal Best Programme. This pre-employment programme was designed to raise self-esteem and self-confidence, whilst developing skills sought by employers. The programme has been using the hook of the London 2012 Olympics to recruit volunteers. The College has had major successes with the recruitment, achievement and progression of learners and over 35 have applied to become Games Makers.


Jonathan commented: “I am delighted to have visited Sussex to help celebrate the success of its 2012 initiatives so far. We want as many young people as possible to be involved with London 2012 and having the Personal Best project in place shows that we are really maximising the opportunities which are arising from the Games.


“The Personal Best programme has contributed significantly in raising motivation and self-esteem, giving an opportunity to disengaged groups to access something previously seen as exclusive.”


Participating in the programme has changed the lives of many of the learners.  The volunteering aspect of the programme involved and challenged the learners sufficiently to gain their commitment and engagement and motivated them to achieve their ‘personal best’. Many of the graduates have continued volunteering in the community, long after completing the programme, some have even gone as far as to set up their own volunteering opportunities. Others have continued into further education and into employment, with almost ten graduates securing paid employment.


Hailsham based Francis Stuart was one of students to receive his certificate from Jonathan Edwards. Francis said: “The Personal Best programme has given me real confidence and I enjoyed the volunteering I completed at the Sports Park in Eastbourne. It has also helped me make career choices. I have now started an IT course at the Eastbourne campus of Sussex Downs College, which is something I would have not considered before.”


The volunteering aspect seems to have been the key to unlocking the potential of the learners. Lizzie Kemp from Sussex Downs College said: “The programme is not only a step into employment, but something that delivers the ‘experiences that make you ready for whatever life throws at you’.


“We are hoping the legacy is one where the majority of graduates will be able to ‘move forward and contribute as volunteers or in paid employment.’


“The College has set up a mentoring provision which will continue to monitor the graduate’s progress and support with any current volunteering opportunities in their area including pre-games training camps and offer practical solutions to becoming a Games Maker.”



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