An art therapy class
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Adult student’s love of learning restored thanks to higher education course at City of Bristol College

A City of Bristol College student shows age is but a number when it comes to education as she praises dedication of tutors for helping her ‘restore [her] confidence and [her] thirst for learning’.

Helen Wheelock, now aged 51, joined the College on the FdA Creative Arts Therapy Studies before moving onto the BA (Hons) Health and Social Care Management while she was looking after four children at home. Living just 15 miles from the College, she said it ‘made sense’ to study there so she could fit her course around her part-time job and home life, saying it was ‘vital she studied close to home’.

She said:I was drawn to the College rather than the university because University of Bristol did not offer the Creative Arts Therapy Studies course. I really enjoyed my time at College, I did not find it easy going back to studying at the age of 46 and I found it mind-boggling at times. I had lost my confidence over the years and found the written essays and reading hard to get my head around. However, the help and support I received from the tutors was excellent and they helped restore my confidence and my thirst for learning.

Not only did Helen walk away with her degrees, but she also became a mental health first aider and achieved an Assist Suicide Prevention certificate, which she says she ‘would not have had the confidence to achieve’ without her time at the College.

After graduating the College, Helen set up her own ‘arts for health’ business called Create Together. In January 2020, Create Together became a Community Interest Company (CIC), of which Helen became a director, and is now funded by North Somerset Council, the National Lottery and the Quartet Community Foundation. The series of creative arts and crafts workshops and courses are designed for people who may be isolated, lonely or have poor mental health.

Helen explained: “As part of my role, I engage communities with creative arts projects and have undergone two large commissions with the organisation, Theatre Orchard, where I did my work placement while I was at College. Studying the Creative Arts course opened a whole new world for me. If I had not studied this course, Create Together CIC would never have happened! I will forever by grateful to Amy Creech for sharing her passion for arts in health care and inspiring me to dream up by business, and to Mary Clarke for believing in me especially when I had imposters syndrome.”

Helen is now telling students thinking about studying the course to ‘go for it’ after she enjoyed ‘every minute of College’.

To find out more about the Creative Arts Therapy Studies course, visit the University Centre section of our website.

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