Joanne Sandison from Wiltshire has been awarded a national Learning for Health award following a diagnosis with terminal cancer which led her to enrol on courses around mental health and supporting others with stress.

Learning to read at a later age than her peers and facing additional challenges at home meant that Joanne didn’t enjoy school. She spent time in care growing up and ended up sleeping rough. These various challenges meant education took a back seat.

Things changed when Joanne met her husband and they began a family together. But Joanne’s life turned upside down when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2021. Determined to show her children that she wasn’t giving up, she enrolled on her first course, Manage Worries Positively, to help support them to cope with her diagnosis.

Since then, Joanne has gone on to complete numerous courses to continue to support her own and her family’s wellbeing, including to understand her children’s learning difficulties and be able to help them.

During this difficult time, learning has introduced a new focus and has brought Joanne and her family closer together.

Organised by Learning and Work Institute, and supported by the Department for Education, Festival of Learning is an annual campaign which aims both to celebrate the power of learning to transform lives, and to encourage more adults to take part.

Laura Trowbridge, Family and Community Learning Tutor and Wiltshire Council, said:

Joanne’s achievements and attitude to learning are inspirational. She is an excellent role model for other learners in her classes. Coming back in to learning as an adult was a huge step for Joanne but she is a shining example of how learning can build confidence.

Stephen Evans, Chief Executive at Learning and Work Institute, said:

Joanne’s story is an outstanding example of the impact learning can have on an individual’s health and wellbeing, and those of their family and friends. Joanne is a deserving winner of the Learning for health award and we hope that her commitment and perseverance inspires others elsewhere.

Original press release from Learning and Work Institute.

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