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Local support worker graduates

A Conwy Council employee graduated from Bangor University this week after studying part-time concurrently whilst working full time.

Andy Foulkes, 49, from Llysfaen, Colwyn Bay, a support worker with Conwy’s Children’s Services, graduated this week with a BA in Biopsychosocial Studies in Substance Use from the School of Lifelong Learning.

Andy was not a model pupil at school, and at the age of 16, along with a friend, moved to the USA to find a new life; happily they both graduated from a Californian High School. By the age of 21, Andy had a child with his American girlfriend. Sadly, the relationship came to an end, and Andy and his son moved back to Wales.

Andy said: “About 10 years ago I started a course at Llandrillo College and it felt daunting, however I realised in order to move on to a more fulfilling job I needed a better education.

“Within my then job, opportunities arose that led me to be interested in the part-time degree at Bangor. The undertaking of the course coincided with the birth of my two youngest children, so the past few years have been challenging but exciting to say the least!”

With his employer’s support he signed up to do the part time-degree. As well as developing his own knowledge and skills, Andy is able to share his learning with work colleagues. He has developed his confidence and is prepared to challenge on behalf of his clients.

Andy said: “I was terrified going through the door for the first time but the flexible approach to learning soon puts you at your ease. I am better able to do my job effectively and have much better work prospects now. It was hard work but the great support that I had from staff at the School of Lifelong Learning kept me going and they encouraged me all the way. I’d recommend anyone to give it a go”

Shân Ashton, Director of Graduate Studies at the School of Lifelong Learning, said: “Learning really is the drive-wheel of change at both a personal and social level. Our courses come in all shapes and sizes and all contribute to personal change and the development of the region. You’ll find our ex-students running large social enterprises, small community projects, enabling families, supporting people with substance use issues, contributing to the cultural richness of the region.

Publication date: 11 July 2014