An amazing story of determination to succeed

Our home grown Learner Support Assistant, Kathy Howarth, has an amazing story of determination to succeed and using learning to overcome adversity, giving back to her community in return for the wonderful mentor support she has received. Kathy bravely told her story at an Adult Education Conference in Summer 2017.


Kathy had a challenging young life, aged 23 and with three children, her journey to success began with the help and support of Glossop Women's Aid, who supported Kathy to a Building Confidence course, run in partnership with ourselves.

Kathy was supported into new accommodation in Gamesley. Her confidence grew even more when a poem she had written won a "Read on Write Away" competition, and another about domestic violence was published. Kathy was motivated to improve and joined a course,  to develop skills in Nail Art and English with mentor, Kay. Inspired by Glossop Furniture Project and a need to furnish her new home, Kathy also took a course to learn to restore furniture.

By this point, Kathy had really got the learning bug! In the process of building her confidence, gaining skills for work and filling her life with new purpose, Kathy completed our courses in:

  • Employment Skills
  • IT
  • Dry stone walling
  • Food safety awareness
  • First aid
  • Bricklaying
  • Manual handling
  • Introduction to plastering.

Kathy had learned so much, met so many supportive people and gained so much confidence, that she decided now was the time to give back. Kathy got involved with volunteering and charity work, taking on experiences such as feeding the homeless, and was part of a group that started a charity named G52.

Kathy was growing from strength to strength, gaining work and moving up through roles to supervisor, first within a cleaning company and then in catering, where she also gained her Level 2 Catering and Hospitality at Tameside College. Kathy won a "Chef of the Year" competition, "Adult Student of the Year" and met chefs Michelle Roux Jr and Simon Rimmer, all the while continuing and expanding her charity work.

When Kathy was ready to move on, she again returned to adult education, completing her Level 2 Plastering at our specialist construction centre, The Toolbox, at Gamesley. Despite health setbacks that meant she needed to give up a much loved café management position, Kathy was determined to put her skills to use and continue to give back to the community that had nurtured and supported her.

It was this that led her to where she is now: Kathy soon found herself at a job interview for a Learner Support Assistant at the Adult Community Education Service, where she found herself being interviewed by Kay, her mentor from years before on her Nail Art and English course! Kathy is an absolute asset and credit to the Service and a fantastic mentor to, among others, the many young learners that are taking their first steps to a new career at The Toolbox.

Kathy says:

"I'm into my forties and I haven't stopped learning yet! I know I am where I am because of the amazing people that took the time and energy to mentor me when I needed it. Clint [tutor at the Toolbox] has been a brilliant mentor and is a wonderful, friendly, down to earth and inspirational chap. I am honoured by the opportunity to work with people such as Clint and support others at the start of their own learning journeys."