"Free advice, information, support, guidance and counselling for Portlanders"

Tel: 01305 824333

Higher Education Support

Do you have a dream about a job, which you believe is too far out of your reach?

Get a helping hand

At the Portland Centre, we are constantly meeting people who believe they are stuck in dead-end jobs, if they are employed at all.

Often when they were younger they wished to be a Teacher or a Vet, or work in a building society or be a Social Worker. Too often the dream was crushed by poor attendance at school or poor qualifications.

Sometimes we meet people who have done some training but for one reason or another, never finished the course.

If this sounds familiar or if you want to change your life, contact us.

We really do change lives

Jenny - Case Study

Please be aware that we have changed the names in this case study as well as some of the circumstances. Client confidentiality is of utmost importance to us in all things we do. Images are for illustration only.

Jenny aged 26 contacted the Portland Centre for a Food Bank Voucher because her benefits had been messed up – she had four small children and was going to be without any funds for the next 4 weeks. Immediate action was needed. We made arrangements for a food parcel to be available to her for the next few days. We contacted the Benefits Office to ascertain what had happened and when she could expect the resumption of her benefits. We arranged for an emergency loan to tide her over so that the family would at least not go hungry. It was necessary to negotiate with her landlord to ensure the family would not be made homeless and we supported her to manage until she received payments again.

Now was the time to address the hand-to-hand life she was living. We arranged for a Credit Union account to be opened in her name into which she could save whatever amount she could manage each week. The Credit Union is available at the Portland Centre so we were able to see her each week. Soon she had a small nest-egg and the possibility of having a small cost loan, if her life became chaotic again.

A Portland Centre Staff member asked Jenny to have a cuppa with her and broached the subject of how she ended up in such trouble. Jenny soon realised no-one was judging her and opened up. She had done very poorly at school because she was dyslexic and found it very boring. So she hardly attended, which now bitterly regretted. At 16 she had a child and then continued to make bad choices having 3 further children by ever more useless men. She seemed to have no self-esteem. The Worker asked her if she had had any ambition, no matter how mad, when she was younger. She shyly said she had always wanted, when she was younger, to work as a forensic officer but of course that was NEVER going to happen. Her parents re-inforced her belief by telling her she should hope for a job at the Co-op, then she would have done well.

We like a challenge ! We asked her if she wanted to have a go at changing her life, fully explaining what this would involve and explaining that maybe it would not work out, but what did she have to loose ? She questioned the fact she had no money and 4 kids – no problem, Trust US.

Jenny will soon graduate

We arranged for her to be enrolled in a Key Skills adult course, which is completely different to the work done with school children. At the same time, the College tested her dyslexia and found that she was indeed seriously affected.

She enjoyed the course and passed well. We arranged for a meeting with the Access to Higher Education Course at the College, which, if she completed she would be able to enter University. As she was on benefits, we managed to negotiate the fees and she started. She easily fitted the two days a week into the children's schedule, but found the essays, very daunting. The College arranged for her to have specialist IT equipment to enable her dyslexia, but she found the essays very difficult. It was not an intelligence problem, it was that she did not know where to begin. One of the Portland Centre Workers was a teacher and helped with the first couple of essays by challenging her ideas and enabling her to think about the subject with maturity and common sense. She also learnt how to use Google to research and how to get the essay written.

After a year, Jenny passed the Access Course with a Distinction and applied to various Universities. We accompanied her to look at 3 University's and most important, look at the accommodation for herself and her 4 children. She was accepted by Winchester, whose Admin staff made all the arrangement to house the family in on-Campus flat, sorted out schools for the Children and arranged a bursary for their uniforms. Jenny and the children made the move and next year she will graduate with a Bachelor's Degree. It has taken 5 years, her eldest Son is doing very well at his Senior School in Winchester. Hard-work and setting a goal, has enabled Jenny and the children to now have a wonderful future ahead of them.

Yes – We really do change lives, all it needs is trust, courage a willingness to change and hard-work. Could this be your story, one day?

What next?

If you are looking for a fresh start, just call us on 01305 824333 or e-mail us using our contact form or pop in to see a Portland Centre Staff member who will be happy to help you.