Thinking of retraining or looking for a new direction? Take a look at the study opportunities available at Redcar and Cleveland College’s Higher Education Online Open Event.

It would have been all too easy for Simon to give up on his ambitions of becoming a nurse.

At 50, the Redcar granddad-of-four said: “I kept telling myself I was too old to start my training.”

Fortunately, he didn’t let the doubts win and finally signed up to an Access to Higher Education in Humanities course at Redcar and Cleveland College.

While he admits he felt anxious about a return to the classroom, it proved the right choice for him; in fact, it was the starting block to a whole new career.

Now working towards a Level 4 Certificate of Higher Education in Social Care at the college, Simon was given the chance to carry out a work placement at The James Cook University Hospital.  What he didn’t expect was to be offered a job. 

Now a healthcare assistant in critical care, he is playing his own small part at the frontline of the battle against the pandemic.

“I have worked hard because this is something I have wanted for so long,” he said. The added challenges of Covid 19 make him all the more determined to make a difference.

Regularly working on the covid ward, he explained: “It is such a hard time for all hospital staff. You see the nurses and the marks on their faces when they take the masks off.

“It is scary seeing patients in there so poorly, but it just makes me want to get in there and help.”

It seems he is not the only one being driven to make a difference, as the latest data published by UCAS shows higher education health and social care courses are seeing some of the highest proportions of applications from mature students.

Simon said having worked in more than 30 different jobs from driving trucks to most recently working in maintenance at a bingo hall, the idea of hospital work had always been something that appealed.

Never a fan of school, returning to his studies took some gentle persuasion from his wife, Bernice.  But once there, he said: “I loved it. Adult learning is a totally different experience. I would sit at the back of the class at school, but if I don’t know something here, I wouldn’t think twice about asking. It just feels like the right time for me.” 

As for the job, first offered hours working as a care assistant in therapeutic care at the hospital and then going on to secure the full-time position as a health care assistant in critical care, he added: “If I hadn’t gone to Redcar and Cleveland College and then progressed to my level 4, this wouldn’t have happened. I wouldn’t be where I am now. I feel very lucky.”

Planning to continue his studies moving on to a level 5 qualification next year, he said: “Two years ago I was working part-time as a maintenance man, never dreaming I would be where I am now!”

Redcar and Cleveland College offers a variety of Access to Higher Education and Higher Education courses, including Access to Higher Education in Health, Level 4 Certificate of Higher Education in Social Care and FdSc Health, Wellbeing and Social Support, as well as routes into education, supporting teaching and learning, early years, counselling, sport and fitness and engineering, delivered in partnership with Teesside University.

Want to know more? The college is holding a Higher Education ONLINE open event Tuesday February 23, from 5.30pm to 7.30pm. 

This is a chance to hear from the college’s expert tutors, have your questions answered via a live chat, and explore the range of full and part-time courses, all from the comfort of your own home.  

Visit www.cleveland.ac.uk/higher-education to explore our courses, upcoming events and book your place at our ONLINE open event.

DSC 0465 Simon Wood 1
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