L.W. – “I’ve got a New Perspective.”

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I would like to say I have not been very successful at formal education but it would be a huge understatement.  I loved Art and PE at school and those were the only subjects that kept my interest. I was suspended for a week from primary school for fighting but otherwise got through it ok, but then got kicked out of secondary school at 14 or 15.  So, my track record in education is far from brilliant. 

I worked as a bricklayer for many years until my body and mind could not take it anymore.  I became physically ill as well as mentally and for years I had to focus on pain management while my frustration at being stuck in life continued to grow.  I tried to keep myself busy but it all felt so pointless, and on top of that I was feeling stressed and in constant pain.

However, eventually I grew up, became a father to two wonderful boys and began supporting other people at Arty-Folks through volunteering.   I always loved being creative and tinkering, making things out of nothing, and I can safely say that Art has put me back on my feet.  Just over 2 years ago I began attending Arty-Folks art class every week and I have learnt a lot about art, people, and myself.  I learnt to be in a flow rather than being on the job, to enjoy the freedom of expression whilst also learning to self-reflect, and I have learnt that it is possible to communicate ideas through art through which I can connect better to others.

At Arty-Folks I also learnt many basic art skills such as mixing paint properly, how to sculpt, work with clay, about composition and how to give shape to thoughts and feelings as well as ideas.  In-spite of my DBS check failing, I am glad that Arty-Folks recognised the misdemeanours of my youth for what they were and gave me the opportunity to volunteer and support other service users to engage in art activities.  Volunteering has inspired me to seek to better myself and further my education and I am striving to make up for some lost time since.

Arty-Folks New Perspectives project funded through European Social Funding enabled me focus on moving forward, to change my life direction, and enable me to fulfil my potential.  The support I have received has been second to none!  It was like having family support, someone you can always ask questions about anything that was on my mind or may have been worried about.  My support workers at Arty-Folks have all been through similar situations to mine and were very understanding of any challenges I had.  They were always supportive and were always at hand whenever I needed them. 

I saw young people at Arty-Folks preparing to study wanted the Foundation Diploma in Art and Design at Coventry University and I said to staff, I would love to do that!  And they said, why don’t you?  It really surprised me to think that I could study at University and at first it felt daunting but then I realised it is the right time for me to move forward and into a direction that I am passionate about. 

Staff supported me to jump countless hurdles and remove stubborn barriers, and without this support I do not believe I would be studying at University now.  My support worker helped me through the whole application process, accompanied me to interviews, made sure I had all the support at Uni I need, and continued to meet with me at least weekly to chat things through, to allow me to vent anything that was on my mind, and to make sure that I stay on top of my course work. 

L.W. ‘Rant-Man and Can’t-Man’, mixed media work 2019

I now have three passions in life: 1. my boys, 2. to help other people through hard times and making a difference, and 3. to develop my creativity just for my own education and development as a thinking person.  The Foundation in Art and Design at Coventry University is the right next step for me and I am thoroughly enjoying the creative journey and learning more about the different art forms and contemporary artists as well as art history.  I am so enjoying stretching my skills and abilities as well as expanding my mind.

I have failed miserably at school as a kid but New Perspectives funded through Groundwork ESF has enabled me to make up for my misspent youth.  Today I am immensely proud to be the first one in my family enjoying higher education and I am truly loving it!

Arty-Folks ‘New Perspectives’ project was funded through Groundwork Coventry and European Social Funds.


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