Shirley has battled with many difficult challenges in her life, including bereavement and depression. She suffers from dyslexia, had very negative experiences at school and has been unemployed for many years.
Last year, part-funded by the European Social Fund, she completed Project Link’s 20-hour Natural World Course, which gives an introduction to conservation and employability skills. She then progressed onto a more challenging 30-hour course, Creating a Wetland Management Plan, which involved surveying a remote wetland site and producing a management plan for its owner. She also completed a one-day course, The Birds, the Bees and Pondlife, and a further course which helped her seek employment and volunteering opportunities.
As well as gaining a range of new skills and boosting her confidence, Shirley now has a job and continues to take on learning opportunities. She has also become a busy member of her local community. “I now know I can do things that I didn’t think I could do before,” she says. “I’m now volunteering as well, which feels like heaven.”