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Following recent community engagement activities at South Eastern Regional College's Newcastle Campus, thirty local residents have enrolled onto a brand new Restart your Education course at the campus. The course will help the learners to reach their career aspirations by enabling them to develop their knowledge and increase their confidence to learn in a supportive and inviting environment. The course is an ideal stepping stone for those who have not been in education for some time, and as part of their level 2 OCN qualification the students will study maths, literacy, science and social science alongside personal skill building as well as exploring various career options.


This is the first phase of the development of the Community Education Hub at the Castlewellan Road campus and extensive work is on-going with local community groups and other organisations in the area to help ensure that future planned developments meet the needs of the community in the wider Newcastle area.


Speaking after a recent meeting Paul Walsh, Campus Manager says, "It is not only important that we provide the right opportunities and courses for the local community, but that we also make sure that we have the right support in place to help the students overcome the barriers that they face as they study and deal with challenges such as caring for young children, part time work and limited financial income. This is where our community partners are so valuable in that they help us to help our students."  


One result of the recent conversations with County Down Rural Community Network, Citizens Advice Bureau, NI Housing Executive, Apex Housing, PSNI, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council and the Policing Community Safety Partnership is that plans are now well developed for the establishment of an on-campus drop-in facility which will enable residents of all ages to access advice and guidance about all sorts of issues as well as about educational opportunities. Planning is also well underway for a family fun day at the Castlewellan Road campus to give as many people as possible the chance to drop in and see the facilities and discuss how they can improve their skills and qualifications.


SERC Director of Strategic Planning, Quality and Support, Heather McKee, praised the support of the partner organisations in helping the College re-engage with the local community. She said: "This is a great, live example of community planning in practice and how it can improve the lives of everyone who lives and works in the area. SERC is committed to providing access to further and higher education courses across Co Down and we would encourage local people to contact us to find out how we can help them."


For more information, please email Karen Mooney via email