Julie, the All Saint

19th May 2006 at 01:00
Fancy getting a group together to revive some neglected allotments, to study local history, or set up a toddler group? That's community learning, says Annie Merton, a the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (Niace) senior development officer. "People coming together strengthens the ties that bind a community. They are adding to the local 'social capital'."

Julie Cayman, one of this year's European Social Fund (ESF) award winners, is adding a lot to the All Saints area of Wolverhampton.

Julie, 36, moved to the city about two years ago, a victim of domestic violence. She and her five children spent four months living in a hostel where she joined a session on personal safety run by the All Saints Action Network, a community charity. Julie moved to the All Saints area and never looked back. Courtesy of the network, she became a qualified basketball coach "which was funny because I'm only 4ft11 and was dwarfed by the male players." But it didn't daunt her and now she coaches children in basketball, football and cheerleading.

Julie works unpaid for the centre and has set up a women's development course which encompasses art and craft activities and educational courses.

Food hygiene, aromatherapy and fitness to music have all been requested, as well as childcare. "For me it's about as much education as early as possible," she says. "It's about every course that we can get our hands on.

It's not just individual needs. We get the mums to mind map issues, then work out ways of solving problems as a group."

Gordon Pursglove, head of ESF at the Department for Work and Pensions, which has supported Adult Learners' Week and the awards for 15 years, said:

"I hope that the success of Julie and the other award winners will inspire more people to develop their potential."

For further information on community networks, visit the Development Trusts Association at www.tda.org.uk, or www.asan.org.uk

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