In March 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic arrived. The delivery of NOW Group’s “in person” accredited training courses was halted as the country went into lockdown.
This case study illustrates NOW Group’s response to the COVID-19 lockdown period and how it challenged the provision of adult learning.
The report also demonstrates the NOW Group Training Team’s ability to pivot when faced with challenges, and articulates how the continuation of course delivery, albeit virtually, has had a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of our participants.
NOW Group is a social enterprise supporting people with learning difficulties and autism into jobs with a future. NOW Group delivers accredited courses in industry related subjects, with a strong focus on improving employment opportunities. When the COVID-19 pandemic dictated the pause of “in person” course delivery, NOW Group developed a timetable of soft skills courses. The core focus was to support participants during the pandemic while continuing to engage them in learning. The course timetable was developed around topics that would equip participants to cope well during lockdown. Topics included Mental Health & Wellbeing, Health and Fitness, Independence Skills and Money Management.
During the period from March to August 2020, 354 soft skills courses were completed by a total of 156 attendees.
The movement of “in person” course delivery to “online” delivery presented many challenges. The training team considered issues such as safeguarding, learning a new range of ICT skills, and enabling participants to use ICT more effectively
The trainers quickly learned how to deliver virtual classes and use ICT facilities effectively. Work packs were created for completion at home. Trainers supported participants in setting up ICT equipment for online lessons, and video tutorials were produced to enhance this. Training was also delivered to staff and participants on safeguarding.
The impact of learning on the health and wellbeing of our participants was substantial. One participant reduced her weight by 2 stone as a result of attending Health & Fitness classes. Another participant’s confidence escalated when he was hired for a retail job after attending a Pre-employment course. These courses have allowed participants to take control of their own employability, income, attitudes and behaviours and in turn their physical and mental wellbeing.
Overall, based on our participant feedback there is strong evidence to support the fact that adult learning has a positive effect on health and wellbeing.
Below are some quotes from our participants who attended our virtual courses:
“Due to the restrictions of Covid -19 everything came to a standstill and I felt very hopeless for the future. Doing courses with the NOW Group was something positive to do and helped me establish a routine which in turn helped to reduce my depression. It was good to interact with other people and I was glad to fit in and be a part of something and learn new skills.”
“The fitness classes helped me so much with my health”. “I’d say I’m ten times better than before lock-down.” “The exercise classes helped me big time, they were really good!”
‘” The job interview went brilliantly, I felt confident and now I am feeling confident to do more interviews. I hope to hear back from [the shop] tomorrow whether I got the job or not but feeling positive whatever the outcome!”