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Building Futures Graduate Secures Uversity Scholarship

We’ve a wonderful support system here within the INOU; a support system that has not finished as we finished last week. Contacts have been forged and will continue to go on into the future.

2019 marks the 10th year of Building Futures, a QQI accredited programme run by the INOU.

Building Futures, a Local Training Initiative programme, aims to equip learners with knowledge and concrete experience of community development topics and work settings, while fostering the development of skills for working in other areas such as education, and promoting progression for learners into further and higher education.

One of the participants from the outgoing class, Michael, 61, who has experienced long-term unemployment, has successfully qualified for a Uversity Scholarship, and plans to begin his degree in Community and Youth Work at Maynooth University, Kildare, this September.

Uversity Scholarships are aimed at unlocking the potential of adult learners, 23 years of age and over, by providing multi-annual financial support through the course of their Bachelor’s degree.

During a recent chat Michael offered some insight into his journey with Building Futures, what brought him to the programme, and how his future looks from here. Here are some excerpts from the conversation:

- What brought you to Building Futures?

M: I was on Jobseekers Allowance; long-term unemployed. I wasn’t particularly in a good place. It was recommended to me by a Local Employment Services mediator who thought that I might get something out of the course.

- What were your favourite aspects of the course?

M: The group was 15 of us. We didn’t know each other from Adam. We all became quite close as the course and the year went on. We’re all from different backgrounds, different age groups. There was a massive mix of very different life experiences. It proved to be one of the really big highlights of the year.

The studies were excellent. It was understanding community development, working with groups, communications, and it was about widening perceptions.

The trainers here work through a facilitation method which means that everybody becomes part of the learning. It’s a very inclusive type of learning, and it’s quite liberating in many ways. Through the projects that we did through the course of the year, such as doing our poem for the 70th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, doing the sailing trips with young people, going to plays, it’s been an exceptional experience.

- Was there one particular highlight?

M: One of the first things we did was to do a piece of art that would represent what you wanted to achieve for the year. We came up with our piece which was a phoenix rising out of the ashes. At the bottom was all of our difficulties, worries, fears and everything else, that was the ashes. The phoenix rising up towards the sun with its rays, onto which we put our goals, was what we hoped to achieve.

-So, with regard to the Uversity Scholarship, where are you going to study?

M: I, hopefully, will start down in Maynooth in September.

- How many applied for it in the Building Futures group?

M: In total, six, I think. The three of us were lucky enough to get full scholarships. And it makes the next step, as we each go on, that bit easier. It takes a little bit of the financial worry out of things. It means that you’re not scraping by week-in, week-out, wondering can you pay for a cup of coffee here or there when you’re out and about. It’s going to make things an awful lot easier going forward.

- What will you be studying?

M: I’m going to do the Bachelors of Social Science, the Honours degree, on Community and Youth Work.  I had an offer in both places; one to do pure theory, but I decided that I’m somebody who needs theory and practice. So, by taking that particular degree course there’s quite a large placement period in each year. We spend 12 weeks out in community groups, youth groups, and you’re working with groups that are actually working on the front line.

- Do you feel that Building Futures has prepared you for that kind of practical community work?

M: Absolutely. My opinion is that Building Futures is rather a unique programme in the way it’s set up, the way it’s delivered, and what people get out of it. We’ve a wonderful support system here within the INOU; a support system that has not finished as we finished last week. Contacts have been forged and will continue to go on into the future.

- So, in terms of going into full-time 3rd level education, do you have any apprehensions?

M: Ah, some. You always question yourself, whether you’re going to be able for it academically. I mean, university wasn’t something that was on the cards when I was 17, which is an awful long, long time ago.  But I like challenges. Building Futures not only gives us a qualification academically and teaches us new things, it’s very, very good for self-esteem, for confidence.

- Would you recommend Building Futures?

M: I cannot recommend it highly enough. It’s a really, really worthwhile year, and there’s a great progression moving on and moving out from it.

We at the INOU wish Michael and the other graduates from Building Futures all the best in their journeys over the next few years.