Beautiful Nature

WORKERS EDUCATION ASSOCIATION

What I’ve Done


 

WEA Banbury Branch

25 August 2011 - extract from WEA Southern Region website


Andy Willis is not new to volunteering, but he is new to volunteering with the WEA. At just 35, he has packed in more than many people do in a lifetime. By the time he went to University he had already worked for the Civil service, in adult education as a Basic Skills tutor, and in the retail sector. He left Oxford University with a degree in Environmental Science and since then has worked in primary and adult teaching and in an advice and guidance role.


He has continued to learn, undertaking courses with the Open University and City and Guilds and ECDL (European Computer Driving Licence) ICT Qualifications. And then there's his volunteering:


"I have done voluntary work since 1996 in one way or another. I have worked in a number of schools as a volunteer reader, and I was a volunteer tutor teaching Basic skills and Environmental Science at A Level. Later I volunteered for Banbury Benefit Advice Project as a Benefit Adviser, where I also trained new advisers. I'm currently a volunteer adviser for Age UK Oxfordshire, helping everything from Benefit advice to consumer and Tax problems."


Last year, ready for a fresh challenge, Andy started to look for courses near him. Most of the courses run by the local college took place some 30 miles away. Then Andy came across the WEA website and searched for courses in Banbury.


"Nothing came up! I was surprised, so called the WEA's head office".


Marketing Officer Stephen Parnell answered the phone:


"We had a long chat. I was moaning to him that there were no WEA courses in my area, and that price hikes and reduced concessions

put courses at the locla college out of the reach of a lot of people. Banbury's quite rural and getting to Oxford isn't an option for everyone. Stephen said that there was no WEA branch in Banbury, but he suggested that I could start one."


Which is exactly what he did. With the help of local WEA education staff, Andy set about building up a branch. Despite having no experience writing bids, he applied for a Co-op grant to buy some basic teaching equipment - and to his amazement, he got it. He then went on to create a branch website ...which had almost 2,000 page views in just a few months, thanks too his promotion and links to local organisations.


"Last year we ran one course, this year we have 23 planned and a quite a few enrolments already, and we haven't had our enrolment yet."


Perhaps Andy's biggest WEA achievement to date is securing almost £10,000 of start up funding for the branch through the Big Lottery Fund's Awards for All.


"It will help us pay for venues, buy some more teaching equipment, train the volunteer committee, and also provide some busaries for people who couldn't otherwise afford to come."


Banbury branch held an open day to celebrate their lottery success on Satudary 27th August at Age UK Oxfordshire. In attendance was Tony Baldry MP, several local councillors. The Mayor and his wife, Lady Saye and Sele, several tutor, as well as a good number of learners. There is a further enrolment day o Saturday 10th September.


Andy Willis is Chairman and Treasurer of the WEA Banbury branch.

This is an item description in your CV. Concisely describe the project or experience listed. The most effective CVs give a clear snapshot of where you’re coming from and where you’re going in a way that’s easy for readers to scan quickly.

This is an item description in your CV. Concisely describe the project or experience listed. The most effective CVs give a clear snapshot of where you’re coming from and where you’re going in a way that’s easy for readers to scan quickly.