A TEENAGER has drawn upon her artistic talent with the long-term aim of going to university, thanks to financial support from the Learning and Skills Council's education maintenance allowance.
Chloe Baldwin, ages 17, started a course in Childcare at Stratford-upon-Avon College last September, but due to family circumstances had to give up in March.
For two weeks she had nothing to do and living alone in a bed and breakfast in Warwick town centre, she felt isolated.
Miss Baldwin then spoke to Stratford Business Services, which works with the college to teach trade skills such as engineering and car maintenance and helps youngsters find work placements and work itself, via the Learning and Skills Council's entry to employment (e2e) programme.
The service also runs art and craft classes, as part of the e2e programme, and it was while taking part that the teenager developed an interest in the subject, with the encouragement of her tutor, Chick Hughes-Webb.
Through the e2e programme, she was taught the skills to help her search and apply for a job and another college course and also gained confidence to express her opinions by attending sessions in personal and social education. She is currently working part time at McDonalds while attending courses at SBS.
Miss Baldwin will begin her one year intermediate level art course this September and hopes to eventually go to university to do a degree in illustration.
The 17 year old said: "At SBS they gave me lessons on how to look for jobs and we did mock interviews too. It helped a lot and built my confidence too.
"I get some money from social services and also the £30 a week education maintenance allowance, which goes towards food and travel. I wouldn't be able to manage without it."
Rob Woodward, the e2e Team Leader from Stratford Business Services, said: "A couple of months ago Chloe wouldn't have had the confidence to consider another college course as personal issues had knocked her self esteem. She originally was planning to go back to finish the childcare course but now, through doing art, it has changed her perspective on what she wants to do."
The Learning and Skills Council is committed to providing practical help for young people.
The education maintenance allowance offers up to £30 a week towards their continuing education for those eligible ages 16 to 18, dependent on the household income. This allowance is paid directly into the student's bank account and additional bonuses are also available for students who do well and meet targets set by their teachers, tutor or provider.
Printed in Stratford Midweek Herald- Tuesday 11th August, 2009
Posted on Thursday 20th August 2009