How a skills centre saved a mother-of-five who was living on the brink
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
A life-saving Ipswich skills centre has held its grand opening after a remodelling.
PeoplePlus, an adult education centre in Museum Street which supports around 100 people a month, was overhauled to make it more open plan and to allow people to do distance learning.
It now has three classrooms, a kitchen and an area for people to work on computers. The courses it offers span from entry level to college level.
MORE - Popular toy shop preparing to close its doors after 30 yearsAmong others they teach people with learning difficulties, low confidence, and those who do not speak English as their first language.
The majority of the staff at the centre have learning difficulties themselves which they say helps them build a relationship with the learners.
Sam Dempsey, a functional skills trainer at the centre, said: "One of my learners, I was in the job centre one day promoting PeoplePlus and she was on the verge of suicide. She's a single mum with five children and she was really struggling.
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"She had gone over to see a job coach, and she was just about ready to give up when she heard my dulcet tones and came over to see what I was talking about.
"Since then she has come here, she's done English, she's now learning to drive and she's applied to go to university in September. It's just completely turned her life around. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time for her."
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Peter Beever, 41, who has learning difficulties started at the centre in October after attending a well-being day there with his mother.
He said: "Before I started coming here I lacked the confidence to go places on my own but now since I've come here my confidence has grown a lot. Now I'm even thinking about finding a place of my own to live so that I can be more independent.
"They're amazing staff. They're friendly and if I ever need to talk there will always be someone here to chat to."
The government funded centre offers courses to anyone over 19, who has lived in the UK for three or more years and is unemployed, on benefits, or earning under £16,009 per year.
They also offers up-skilling courses designed to help develop peoples careers.