Latest Student Journeys 2018-2020 Free Thinking Student Journeys 2019 Geraldine When Geraldine first came to Fircroft College she was very scared of what it would be like and had many negative thoughts going around her head but when she was shown around the college, she cried. She hadn’t expected it to be “so nice and welcoming”. After the first week on the Free Thinking course Geraldine realised that the tutors and other staff were extremely supportive and she was even more surprised that all 12 students, who had never met before, all got on and made friends with each other very quickly. Geraldine was very taken also by the environment and felt it was “conducive to learning”. She loved the food, the accommodation and felt the college was like her home. The biggest thing Geraldine has learnt about herself during the Free Thinking course is that she is strong. She appreciates herself more, has more self esteem and tells herself good affirmations about herself. She now believes nothing is impossible and that she is not too old to plan the kind of life she wants. Geraldine’s dream life is to “start all over again”, continue her education and get a job as a health care support worker. Geraldine says “I can now face my future without fear”. Student artwork Jane Jane was very nervous coming to Fircroft and did not know what to expect. Jane suffers from several mental health illnesses because of traumatic events in her past including PTSD and DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder) which made her feel less worthy than everyone else and that everyone was better than her. Jane has found the Free Thinking course inspirational. By learning topics such as public speaking, English language skills and employability essentials, her confidence has increased. Jane now finds herself talking a lot, her English has improved and she is grateful for all the opportunities the course has given her. Because of her new-found confidence Jane, who volunteers for a regional charity, has been asked by the charity to chair a group that meets regularly, and to speak on other people’s behalf. Jane says: “I now have the strength and confidence to be myself, I am not angry anymore and I have made friends for life. The other students feel like my brothers and sisters – the course has united us”. Student artwork Leticia When Leticia was introduced to Fircroft College by her Support Worker, she was confused and nervous. She liked the look of the college, situated in a big house that used to belong to the Cadbury family, but she had no confidence and wasn’t sure how Fircroft could help her. When a member of staff told Leticia about the Free Thinking course she wondered what could she possibly achieve in just 10 weeks? However, she started the course and she realised she was enjoying herself when she did something creative. She created a presentation about herself and presented it to the class and was pleased that both fellow students and staff really appreciated it which made her feel excited. She felt she had the courage to keep attending the course. As the course continued, Leticia felt that her tutors really understood her and her situation. The tutors did not force her to do anything and they helped to build up her confidence. Although Fircroft provides clean, modern but basic accommodation Leticia felt she was on holiday – she felt the college was like a home. Leticia feels that she has learned a lot from the Free Thinking course. She now has more information about job seeking and IT skills but as important are the less tangible benefits. Leticia feels that being part of such a supportive group and learning things such as mindfulness and employment rights has helped to rebuild her confidence. She says she no longer feels so sad and she is ready to accept new challenges and opportunities. Leticia is hoping to continue her studying and enrol onto a social work course. Leticia says: “Now I feel strong. I can keep going and I have learned to manage my stress about what happened to me before”. Student artwork Natasha Natasha came to this country believing her friend who encouraged her to join him, would be able to provide her with a safer and better life. However, after arriving in the UK the reality was very different and Natasha was desperate to leave the situation she had at first willingly gone into, to seek a better life. Natasha has no family or friends in this country and feels she now has a family with the other Free Thinking students. When Natasha first came to Fircroft College she had no idea what to expect. On the first day of the course the group played an ice breaker game where they had to give each other compliments and she cried. Because of the relaxed learning environment Natasha found herself opening up more and being able to focus on her learning. Natasha says she has learnt to accept and like herself, she has more confidence and cannot believe that within 10 weeks her English language skills have improved so much. Natasha is highly qualified in her own country and has the qualifications to be able to work professionally in both the accountancy and health care sector but is unable to work in the UK at the moment because of her lack of knowledge of the English language. However, she feels confident enough now to keep learning English and that eventually she will be able to get a good job. Natasha says “I have learned who I am. I deserve respect. I am not a bad person and I realise I am not stupid”. Student artwork Regina Regina was very afraid of coming to Fircroft College. This was an environment she had never been in before and she had no idea what to expect. Regina wanted to learn. Learn more English, more maths and wanted to do her best and put everything she possibly could into her learning. Regina found the first two weeks at college hard but on the third week she felt that things were starting to fit into place. She began to understand how she fitted into the class and realised that the students and staff were not going to laugh at her or make fun of her. Because Regina began to relax and enjoy the Free Thinking class she began to learn. She really appreciates the help the Free Thinking course has given her with every-day subjects such as advice and guidance about how to access help and support and how it has increased her confidence. Regina also feels the mindfulness course has helped her to manage herself more in stressful situations. In the future Regina wants to be a nurse. She says “people have looked after me and now I feel I should look after them”. Find out more about our Free Thinking course here.