We were delighted to be presented with the Employer Engagement award last month at Newcastle-under-Lyme College’s annual Foundation Studies Celebration Awards. The award was received for our collaborative work in providing students with valuable opportunities to get involved in the local community.  

Aspire Housing and Newcastle College have been working together on varying projects over the last three years. The origin behind the partnership was to create intergenerational work between students, older people and Aspire Housing colleagues, with an aim to combat social isolation and get students involved in their local communities. 

Patricia Roberts, Older Persons Strategy Lead, collected the award on behalf of Aspire Housing. She said: “We are honoured and humbled to have received this award. When younger and older people come together it contributes to the well-being of people and cultivates a sense of purpose, preventing loneliness and isolation. We want to promote social integration to help to build communities and trust between people of all ages.  

“Over the past three years we have developed an excellent partnership with Newcastle-under-Lyme College and we continually look at how we can collaborate on future projects. The staff are extremely helpful and our customers really enjoy spending time with the students. It's fantastic to see how their fresh approaches to learning are upskilling both younger and older people.” 

Research has shown that one million people aged over 64 always or often feel lonely. The studies, undertaken by the End Loneliness Campaign and YouGov, found that loneliness is a health risk comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. If people are well stimulated and feel that they live meaningful lives, they will eat better and are at less risk of dehydration and falling. 

Carolyn Forbes Lecturer for Foundation Studies said of Patricia: “She has a deep passion in what Aspire Housing does and her role in the organisation, which transpires into the way she and her staff have always embraced our students.” 

The community activities that have resulted from the partnership include yoga, crafts, pamper days – including hand and arm massage and nail painting, a Christmas lunch – prepared by the students and attended by the previous Mayor Cllr Simon White, and gardening – during which the older residents gave the students tips about maintaining a garden. 

Rob Sigley, Curriculum Leader at Newcastle College, said: “We are very proud and privileged to be working with Aspire Housing, it allows our learners the opportunity to develop key skills in a practical real-life setting which boosts their employability skills. It also allows us to put something back into the local community and feel a sense of pride and gratification. The staff at Aspire Housing are wonderful to work with and long may our partnership be successful.” 

The Celebration Awards are a chance for Newcastle-under-Lyme College to recognise and celebrate the outstanding achievements of learners from Foundation Studies, whilst also acknowledging the work and support made by their key employer partners. The college aims to develop enterprising students to achieve great things, and to make a positive contribution to the cultural and economic prosperity of North Staffordshire and beyond. 


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