The Inspire! Tutor Awards celebrate the achievements of exceptional tutors and mentors in Wales who have shown outstanding passion and commitment to encourage, support and teach other adult learners to pursue their goals and transform their lives, whether it’s in their community or the workplace.
Run by Learning and Work Institute Wales, with support from the Welsh Government, they reward outstanding individuals whose commitment, knowledge and communication skills have given adult learners the tools to transform their lives.
One such tutor, Laura Wheeler, based in Cardiff, was one of six people to be awarded with an Inspire! Tutor Award recently. Laura delivers learning and support for young people on Learning 4 Life, the education and learning programme delivered by Llamau, the homelessness charity. The programme offers learning opportunities to young people aged 16-24 to enhance self-esteem and develop skills. Laura has created a space where the young people she works with feel safe, build trust and are able to tackle the issues affecting their lives. She says, “I strongly believe that young adults, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds or those who have been told in the past that they’d never amount to anything, can use learning to achieve their own potential and be what they want to be.”
“It is no exaggeration to say that she has saved lives with her professionalism and ability to manage situations that others would walk away from,” says Laura’s nominator, Lisa Gardiner.
Those learning with Laura have achieved numerous qualifications, progressing onto mainstream education and employment. She builds trust, manages to find their passion and supports them to believe in themselves. A key to this success is the way in which Laura has created a strong network of professionals around her, working with many services to support each young person in a holistic way.
‘Anna’ was withdrawn, and her sporadic attendance signalled that there were issues in her life. She eventually disclosed that she was in an abusive relationship and was supported to move into a women’s refuge while continuing to achieve her qualifications.
‘Joe’ struggled with mental health and anxiety, he was self-harming and had periods of psychosis – he was connected to the professional support he needed and has progressed from being sectioned for his own safety to starting college and believing he has a future.
‘Adam’ had been in care as well as moving around several supported living projects. He achieved Essential Skills qualifications, throughout this he struggled with personal relationships and substance misuse. He has now secured employment and is working towards qualifications to enable him to work in civil engineering. Importantly he’s maintaining his own tenancy and he’s become an advocate for other young people who have been in care.
Laura says, “I strongly believe that young adults, particularly those who have been told in the past that they’d never amount to anything, can use learning to achieve their potential and be what they want to be.”