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Taking women off the streets

The impact of a Glasgow college on the lives of some of the most vulnerable women in the city led to its winning the 2006 award for student learning at the annual college awards ceremony in Glasgow last week.

The award, sponsored by The TESS, went to John Wheatley College for its "routes into learning" programme, an adult literacy and numeracy project which it manages on behalf of the Routes Out of Prostitution Partnership.

Its aim is to support women trying to move out of prostitution and to prevent them becoming involved in the first place.

The John Wheatley group produced creative writing and photographic pieces, culminating in an exhibition of their work earlier this year, which was then produced as a DVD. The college wanted to recognise the achievements of a group of women "who have not only produced a uniquely creative expression of their literacies development, but have overcome some of the most significant barriers and challenges to learning".

The project has worked with 86 women this year, and 10 have gone on to full and part-time college courses, gaining qualifications in subjects such as sport and IT. Fourteen have had their achievements recognised through exhibitions of their work.

Runners-up in the student learning category were Angus College, for a project with older learners, and Langside College, for work with secondary pupils at risk. Other winners were: Dundee College, for its activities around continuing professional development; Aberdeen College, for partnership working with an NHS palliative care unit; Adam Smith College, for external customer service with fire and rescue services; and Jewel and Esk Valley College, for internal customer service, helping non-finance managers to handle their budgets.

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