“Inspirational” Merthyr project wins NIACE Dysgu Cymru Community Group of the Year award

Welsh mental health charity Hafal’s Merthyr project has won the prestigious NIACE Dysgu Cymru Community Group of the Year award.

The origins of Hafal, Wales’ leading charity for people with serious mental illness and their carers, receiving the award began in 2009 when the Open University (OU) in Wales developed a partnership pilot in the Merthyr area with Voluntary Arts Wales and Hafal.

‘When we started working with the Hafal students,” explains nominator Eleri Chilcott “they were very apprehensive about studying as they had been out of education for some time.

“But, having surmounted many barriers these students have finished the first course and have now moved onto the second. They are now able to study without extra support, using a range of OU IT resources. They have, in fact, become independent learners.

“Their story is a prime example of what individuals and communities can achieve when made aware of the opportunities available and given the necessary support resources to take their ideas forward. Their commitment and determination to support each other to improve their skills, despite all the adversity experienced, is inspirational.”

Returning to learning has changed the group’s – Shan Davies, Sharon Harris, Susanne Mahoney and Christina Hodges – lives. They say the Open University course has given them confidence and belief in themselves in terms of what they can achieve.

To view a video of the group speaking about their experiences please visit: http://tiny.cc/e3ybr