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Education for a new life

Friday 12th November 2010

On Friday 12th November 2010, SMART celebrated the graduation of students from its Portal Programme, an education programme run to help people previously involved with drugs or alcohol to move on to education, employment and a positive future.

The 27 graduating students all attended the Portal Programme, a 12 week course run by SMART in conjunction with Milton Keynes College, for anyone who is abstinent from drugs and alcohol and offers students a second chance to study, achieve qualifications, and support with realising their future career aspirations.

Modules on the course cover topics such as Study Skills, Communication & Interpersonal Skills, and Health & Wellbeing. Students completing the course also finish with qualifications from Open College Network South East Region (OCNSER) and City & Guilds in Literacy and Numeracy and many have gone on to further study, volunteer placements and paid employment.

SMART are proud to celebrate its students success at the graduation ceremony where the students will have the opportunity to celebrate with their family, friends and SMART staff and will be presented with their certificates.

Darren Worthington, SMART CEO says "The SMART Portal Programme provides recovering drug and alcohol users a stepping stone back into learning. The main aim is to give those with poor educational backgrounds, or those looking to give something back as a mentor, the skills and confidence they will need to move forwards and adjust to the demands of reintegration. It is important to recognise this important first step as a real achievement and that is why we are celebrating these students completion of the course and their future successes."

Milton Keynes College Community Learning Manager, Marianna Beckwith added: "The Portal Programme is an important step for people who find themselves re-committing to education after overcoming what can be considerable personal difficulties. Good literacy skills are crucial to the essay-writing aspect of the Portal Project, and beyond, when mentoring others or up-skilling to move to a more professional level.  Milton Keynes College is pleased to be working in partnership with SMART to deliver this literacy element as an additional qualification alongside the Portal Programme."

To date the programme has helped over 300 individuals across the Thames Valley gain certificates of learning through the Open College Network. Of these more than 90 have gone on to full-time employment directly from the course (including 12 with SMART), over 40 have gone on to become mentors with SMART and close to 40 have gone on to further education, two learners became 'student of year' at Milton Keynes College of FE in consecutive years.

The Portal Programme is part of a wider service run my SMART for people in Milton Keynes and Buckinghamshire who have stopped using drugs or alcohol and who want support in maintaining abstinence and making positive changes to their life, as well as giving support to families, friends and carers.

Anyone interested in finding out more about SMART's services can: