former Weston College student comes back to talk to the long-term unemployed about his battle to find work and against blindness
By YouPR | Tuesday, March 05, 2013, 13:21
A partially-sighted Weston College student has returned to talk to long-term unemployed people about the battle to regain his confidence and work again.
Stephen Nicholls, 32, of Clovelly Road, Worle, attended the College's Business Enterprise Centre to tell those on the ASPIRE Course about his fight back to health and employment.
He said: "I was incredibly nervous talking to a room full of people and so relieved afterwards when they thanked me and said how inspired they'd felt."
Weston College's ASPIRE course aims to give job seekers the skills they need to find work, further education or training.
Launched in August 2011, more than 800 learners aged 16 to 65 have attended the two-week programme and 40 per cent have gained jobs, training, or entered an apprenticeship within six months.
Stephen found employment with housing and care provider, Alliance Homes which teamed up with a social enterprise called Pluss to launch Future Clean – a mobile valeting service based in Portishead.
Working alongside Stephen is former soldier Martyn Cowd, 24, of Taunton, who was injured after being blown up by a Taliban rocket in Afghanistan in 2009.
The pair have even been able to offer work experience to people who attended the College's Aspire APSIRE course.
Stephen said: "It's fantastic to work again. I lost so much confidence when I was told I was going blind and Weston College gave it back to me."
Seven years ago the former logistics worker was diagnosed with a deteriorating condition that caused sight distortion, double vision and eventual blindness.
It left the father-of-five unable to drive and feeling unemployable. He said: "For me that wasn't the worst thing, it was the thought of not seeing my children grow up that hit me.
"I started to drink and didn't even want to go out of the house but realised I had to do something so signed up at College."
In 2012 Stephen studied a Level 2, then Level 3 Diploma in Personal Training and took further specialist qualifications to work with disabled people.
In May he regained some vision in his left eye after a successful corneal transplant and is hoping to have the same operation on his right eye.
He added: "I am so much happier now, so it was good to talk to other people who are struggling. I'd particularly like to thank the College's Disability Officer John Paul Anderson and tutor Matt Wyatt."
Alliance Homes Business Enterprise Manager Michael Williams, added: "We are delighted to be working in partnership with Weston College on the launch of our new Academy which provides high quality work experience opportunities for people looking to gain the skills and confidence required to enter the employment market."
For further information: www.futurecle****liance.org.uk
For more information on courses for work and business at Weston College go to www.weston.ac.uk or call 01934 863742411 594