Community Learning and Development (CLD) response during COVID -19 lockdown
East Renfrewshire Adult Learning & Adult Literacies Services
Continuing our case studies from the West Region on the amazing response of CLD during COVID-19 lockdown, we now want to highlight work from East Renfrewshire Adult Learning & Adult Literacies Services.
During lockdown, East Renfrewshire Council transformed their service to meet the needs of adult learners during the COVID-19 lockdown crisis. Staff created online learning provision for those who had digital access, whilst recognising that many of the adult learners only had phones, with and without internet access, and that had to be taken into account to ensure the support remained inclusive. The work that was carried out is a great testament to the CLD staff who have been creative, resourceful and enthusiastic about maintaining links with the community. East Renfrewshire CLD have positive partnerships and these have been important throughout. In particular, for people in receipt of benefits as some were worried that their money would be affected if they weren’t online and seeking work. Learning has been a lifeline for almost all adult learners in relation to their wellbeing. Some people didn’t want to continue with learning but wanted an opportunity to stay connected with the team and/or their group. CLD staff have been able to provide this support through phone calls and online forums.
There has been a strong focus on wellbeing during this difficult time. Over the past year or so, CLD Adult Learning and Adult Literacies staff had been evaluating the wellbeing provision and had implemented changes including the creation of wellbeing hour and development days for staff. All of the resources and activities developed for staff could be tailored for adult learners throughout our provision. Wellbeing is at the heart of everything that East Renfrewshire CLD offer whether it’s a wellbeing group or an IT group. From the initial meeting through to the guidance and exit processes a learner centred approach is taken. Staff have benefitted from CLPL opportunities through partnerships within the authority and through membership of the West CLD Alliance, including the NHSGG&C Healthy Minds partnership.
SQA Wellbeing units
Working in partnership with West College Scotland, CLD staff began looking at the course content and descriptors of the SQA Wellbeing units and were very keen to deliver these.The courses would be beneficial for individuals in relation to their own wellbeing but also transferrable to work related goals. In August 2019, we advertised the first unit, Exploring Wellbeing; SCQF: level 4. Referrals for this course came from within the service, Family First, RAMH and other partners. The course was popular and successful with adult learners positively evaluating the course and successfully achieving accreditation. The group progressed to the next unit, Improving Wellbeing SCQF: level 4 in January 2020. When we were informed of lockdown the group were genuinely disappointed and hoping for a quick return. This group had already created a WhatsApp group to stay connected out with the course times. This allowed staff to connect with the group during lockdown to make sure they had all of the information and support they required.
Some people chose not to continue learning during lockdown for various reasons, however, staff kept in contact with them at their request, as they were feeling isolated. For the online learning we found a platform that would work for everyone and provided digital support to ensure everyone could participate.
Working towards achieving accreditation provided a valuable focus for learners during this time. The assessment had been introduced a few weeks into the course and this helped the learners to know what was expected and allowed them to continue with their project from home. They received support from the Adult Learning Services CLD worker and the West College Scotland lecturer; including phone calls, emails and text messages, as well as the online video meetings. In addition to achieving a qualification, the main benefit for the group has been keeping people connected. Three of the group members live by themselves and keeping in touch with others has been a huge help throughout this difficult time. Positive quotes posted on the group chat, comments from other peers and just being able to chat to others has been a huge motivator for the learners and staff. Working in partnership with West College Scotland, we have submitted our proposal for the Group Award: Mental Health and Wellbeing at SCQF level 4, due to start in September 2020 based on evaluations and consultations with adult learners.
It was such a privilege as a CLD Worker to be working with this group. They were so unique in many ways, not only because of the pandemic. They were such a caring group and so enthusiastic, right from the very start. They were also very appreciative of anything I helped them with. They genuinely cared for each other and formed a bond, with not a single person left out. They were such an inspiration to me. It reminded me of the reason why I enjoy my job!
- It helped me gain confidence and be more relaxed to be myself.
- It was very easy to contribute in class but also during lockdown through emails and the WhatsApp group.
- It has made me think about the way I was living my life. It was too complicated and too fast. Now I stop and think before I do anything.
- I get lots more exercise now. I didn’t used to do as much but now I feel better for getting out and walking.