Change your story podcast series

This is the podcast where we hear inspirational stories about people who are gaining qualifications and learning new skills later in life. Host Nia Parry will be asking what drove her guests to change their story and what advice they have for you if you want to change your story too.

Episode 1: Inspired To Make The Change

To mark the 2020 Inspire! Adult Learning Awards, Nia speaks to two former winners, Johnny Spence and Scott Jenkinson. 
Johnny Spence’s severe dyslexia meant his school years were miserable and he ultimately fell into a bad crowd. Scott Jenkinson was homeless, a drug addict and spent time in a Spanish prison. Both talk to Nia about how education saved them.

Episode 2: Learning Welsh later in Life

Nia catches up with two women from the Rhondda who grew up in English speaking homes and learnt Welsh later in life.
Sian Sexton was shortlisted for the Welsh learners prize at this year’s Eisteddfod. But while Sian started learning when she sent her children to Welsh medium school, it wasn’t until the kids got older that really started applying herself.
One of Sian’s teachers, Helen Prosser, has a combination of Sunday school and her neighbour, Mrs Morgan from Aberteifi, to thank for her love of the language. She’s now Director of Teaching for the National Centre for Learning Welsh and talks about the opportunities available for anyone who wants to get started.

Episode 3 – Developing New Skills As A Refugee or Migrant

Nia speaks to two inspirational women forced to flee their war-torn homelands in search of a better life here in Wales. Larysa Aqbaso was an English teacher in her native Ukraine. After an identity crisis on arrival in the U.K., she adapted her skills to teach English to speakers of other languages (ESOL). It’s a form of learning that helped Chawan Ali, who left Iraq with her family unable to speak a word of English. After a year learning the language, she’s now looking to train up for a career in healthcare. Erica Williams, Wales’ coordinator for ESOL, also joins Nia to talk about the opportunities available for people like Chawan and Larysa across the country.

Episode 4: Learning at Work

Nia speaks to two women who hated school and overcame confidence issues to gain qualifications through their workplace.
Claire Arnold got her qualifications at school – not the first time but when she went back as a learning support assistant in her 20s. There she gained a degree and the GCSEs she didn’t get at 16. Meanwhile, Flick Stock had always thought  education wasn’t for her. But after signing up to do a course in British Sign Language, Flick has become a huge advocate for adult learning and is now studying Welsh.

Episode 5: Studying Behind Bars 

Two former inmates tell Nia about the impact studying in prison had on their lives. Jonathan Gilbert was a practising solicitor who got sentenced to 12 years for his part in a large fraud. Johnny put this experience to good use in prison and enrolled on a masters in  counter fraud and counter corruption. He’s now teaching at Cardiff University. Garry Parkinson promised his late mum he’d turned his back on crime after spending 10 of the last 12 years in prison. He gained multiple qualifications behind bars and is now trying to put that to good use on the outside. Nia is also joined by Clare Lloyd from the Prisoners’ Education Trust to talk about the effect education has on the life chances of former prisoners.