Date: 26/07/2012

Bridge of Hope’s university access programme that ran at the end of June in partnership with the University of Ulster (UU) was a great success.  Feedback from participants who completed the programme told us holding this type of accredited training in a community setting is a great idea.

The whole concept of the accreditation for prior experiential learning (APEL) programme is centred around getting people with experience working in the community into the ‘classroom’ again.  APEL is defined by the Learning from Expereince Trust as “the award of credit for learning based on prior experience – including work, community or a volunteer experience – which has not previously been accessed and/or awarded credit”.
The course was made possible by funding secured by Bridge of Hope from the Strategic Support Fund administered by the NI Community Relations Council on behald of the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.

The course ran from June 25 -29 mainly in Bridge of Hope’s training suite in McSweeney Centre, a new building managed by Ashton Community Trust located in Henry Place Belfast.  Twelve individuals, who had successfully applied for a Bridge of Hope bursary, completed the five day programme and are now currently undertaking the assignments needed for their portfolio.  After this, the students can potentially enter into the second year of a community development degree at UU.

Evaluation of the programme has shown that students appreciated the chance to make further progress in thier own lives.  “I would just like to thank all involved for this wonderful and hopefully life changing opportunity, ” one student said.

“Holding the course in the community and not the formal surroundings of the University Campus really helped me to settle in and enjoy the learning experience.  Once again my heartfelt gratitude to all involved and I hope in the future others can avail of the same reqarding experience.”