The Open University (OU) hosted a celebration event in the Belfast office on 4 June for the women who participated in The Open University’s Community Partnerships Programme. This programme forms a key part of the widening access work that takes place in Northern Ireland and is a clear example of the value of partnership working.
The Community Partnerships Programme is a bespoke, funded initiative which provides wraparound support to people wishing to study Access or Level 1 modules in the community, including pre-start study skills, assistance with funding applications, face-to-face tuition and ‘What Next’ sessions. There are currently three centres in Northern Ireland involved in the programme: Falls Women’s Centre (FWC), Ballybeen Women’s Centre and NIACRO – Northern Ireland Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders. Another women’s centre is planning to join in October 2018.
The celebration event on 4 June provided an opportunity for the women to recognise their achievements on the ‘People, work and society’ Access module. They took part in a student panel on the day, and spoke about the journeys they had been on and what they had gained from the programme, including renewed confidence, knowledge and friendships.
Anne Cromie, Associate Lecturer with The Open University, teaches on the programme and provides integral support for the women. At the event, she spoke about the positive peer support she had witnessed among the women, and the barriers they had overcome during the year. Staff from the centres also shared their observations on the positive impact the programme had on the women and the wider community.
The OU Community Partnerships Programme will run again in October.
For further information please contact Maggie Bates, Widening Access Senior Manager on Ireland-Widening-Access@open.ac.uk