Joanne's return to education wins her a Festival of Learning award
Wednesday 6 July 2022: Hillingdon resident, Joanne Matthews is celebrating winning the Return to Learning prize at the annual Festival of Learning awards, which took place at the City Lit Institute of Adult Learning, this week.
As well as her classes, Joanne also volunteers twice a week as a crisis mental health mentor at the Look Ahead charity in Whitechapel.
Joanne was able to share the joy of her well-deserved win with Deborah Scarborough, Service Manager of Hillingdon Adult and Community Learning, who accompanied her to the first in-person Festival of Learning ceremony since the start of the pandemic in 2020.
Festival of Learning, Return to Learning prize winner, Joanne Matthews said: "I can't believe I've won! I've never won anything before and so I'm just over the moon now.
"All the adult learning staff really helped me get to where I am now. I never got that help at school and I struggled a lot with my gender and mental health. Now I'm well on my way to developing my education and my career in mental health.
"Every day's a learning day and since I've been studying, I've learnt so much about diversity and met all sorts of people from different backgrounds. It's helped me such a lot, I think everyone should take the time to keep learning new things throughout life."
Deborah Scarborough, Service Manager of Hillingdon Adult and Community Learning said: "Joanne is such an inspiration to all of us in the team and we're all so proud of what she's achieved.
"Learning for adults is for everybody and anybody, no matter your age, gender, race or social class. I always say, if you see a crowd of people, that's the makeup of an adult education group, it really is that diverse.
"Whether you want to improve your essential English, maths or digital skills, or you want to retrain after redundancy or make a career change, there really is something for everyone. Learning with other people has so many other benefits too, such as combatting loneliness and social isolation. There really are no end to the benefits of lifelong learning."
Hillingdon's Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education, Cllr. Susan O'Brien said: "I just want to say a huge congratulations to Joanne on this fantastic achievement. It's truly heart-warming to hear her enthusiasm for learning now after having had a bad experience as a young person in school.
"And the fact that Joanne is now giving back to help other adults who are facing their own challenges is just brilliant. I've always been a huge advocate for adult learning, but of course I'm biased. But Joanne is the best advert for conquering your fears and acquiring new skills whatever your age or circumstances and I really hope she inspires other adults to take the plunge and sign up to learn with Hillingdon."
You can hear more about Joanne's return to learning in the video she recorded especially for the Festival of Learning website.