Research and Practice in Adult Literacy – a friendly group

Marion Candy

Marion Candy, NAViGO Health and Social Care CIC

My name is Marian. My childhood days were not happy ones. When I was at school I was bullied because I was an underachiever. It was not just by the children, it was teachers as well. I was constantly told that I was thick, stupid and would not amount to anything. When I asked for help I did not get it and was left to my own devices. So I did nothing or say anything because I was not listened to.

The teacher was mainly concentrating on the achievers and did not give a damn about the underachievers, so I came away from school with no qualifications and I swore I would never, ever go to college or school again because I thought all teachers were the same, bullies and intimidating.

In 1983 I got married to a wonderful man called Pete. We had three children together. We both had lots of health issues and I lost both my legs due to diabetes and then we found out that my husband had got throat cancer, he then had to have a laryngectomy. In 2004 he passed away. My life was turned upside down. I had lots of problems with my children and it got to the stage where I did not want to carry on. I wanted to slit my wrists and end my life so I could be with Pete.

I was referred to Harrison house which is part of NAVIGO Health and Social Care, mental health services, and got counselling and was given a support worker. It was she who took me to Tukes which is also a part of NAVIGO, which I found to be a lovely place to be.

When I started there I had to do some assessments which where screening to dyslexia, visual stress, numeracy and literacy with the Tukes Education Team. I was then asked if I wanted to do numeracy and literacy courses. I replied by telling them to ‘bugger off’ on a number of occasions. However, my teacher did not bugger off. Over several months and lots of cups of coffees during my breaks, and lots of chatting. I finally succumbed and agreed to do a literacy course. Even so, I was dreading it. This was because I was told I was thick and stupid by my old teacher, so I thought I was.

I had left school at the age of sixteen years old. I had been told by teachers and continued to believe I was thick and stupid for the next thirty-five years. I had gone through my adult life, marrying, having children and bringing up a family, ill-health and becoming a widow at the age of fifty. My life was about to change. From being told I was stupid and thick, people were now saying, no you’re not stupid, no you’re not thick and you can do it. Others believed in me. This belief would eventually give me belief in myself and my confidence back. The only thing I didn’t have to do at the age of fifty was wear a school uniform. Thank goodness, I don’t think it would fit!

I found the tutor was amazing he helped me big time by helping me break down the barriers from my past schooldays and by helping me build my confidence and my self-esteem because it was at an all-time low. He was very, very supportive throughout and continues to be. The lessons were so different, interesting, exiting and I was treated as a person.

I was gobsmacked, I actually enjoyed it and found it very rewarding. To my amazement and my teachers surprise I agreed to go on to the next level and also take maths classes. From that stage I haven’t stopped and continue to enjoy learning (to my amazement and my family’s).

By being in his classes I have gone from entry level literacy to level 2 literacy and numeracy. I have a certificate in mental health first aid and have also completed a PTLLS introductory teaching course. This has given me great confidence as I now work alongside the tutor as a classroom assistant. I provide learners support when they need it and can also help my grandchildren when they need help. This gives me a great sense of satisfaction, knowing that I can help and support others. I now know how my confidence is built on how things can change, no matter what stage you are at in life.

I can’t thank my support worker at NAVIGO Mental Health enough for introducing me to Tukes. I love it; I now know learning is all about how you are treated as a person. If others have confidence in you, you start to gain confidence in yourself.

It’s all about trusting your teachers, so listen to what your friends say about how the teaching is and if they praise it, please, please give it a go. It can change your whole life. Education can be fantastic!


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