College provides base for life-saving charity’s new branch

A charity that specialises in supporting men’s wellbeing will open its first Harrogate branch in January – here at the college.

Andy’s Man Club (AMC) has groups around the country but has had no representation in this part of Yorkshire, until now.

The organisation, which offers free peer-to-peer support sessions, will open its local branch at the campus on Monday 22 January, 2024.

Backing from soap star Dominic

The move is being supported by Emmerdale actor Dominic Brunt, who plays Paddy Kirk in the long-running soap. In a short video he created for the charity, Dominic said: “I’m overjoyed to let you know that there’s a new Andy’s Man Club opening in Harrogate, at Harrogate College.

“So see you there: it’s ok to talk.”

The branch, open to men aged 18 and over who can turn up whenever they wish, will run from 7pm to 9pm each Monday, apart from Bank Holidays.

An ‘invaluable service’ for men’s mental health

Our Pastoral/Safeguarding programme manager, Kerry Walker, said: “This is such a fantastic opportunity for learners, staff and the local community.

“Andy’s Man Club is performing an invaluable service in supporting men with their mental health and we are delighted, as a college, to be providing a space for them.

“Many of our learners will turn 18 while they are with us so they, along with so many people in the community, are set to benefit.”

The arrangements for the new branch were led by Neil Waine, who appeared in an episode of Emmerdale earlier this year when the storyline focused on men’s mental health, and saw ‘Paddy’ seek out a local AMC group for help.

Great support and and a great venue

Neil, a Project Development Champion (PDC) Manager for the charity, said: “We are really excited to get going in Harrogate and delighted with the college’s support.

“We have been trying to open here for roughly twelve months and once we had the right team in place it was time to find a venue.

“Having visited Kerry it became very clear that the college really wanted to support us and the size of the college gives the group scope to grow, so we’re confident this will be a successful venue.

“Having the support of Emmerdale, ITV and Dom Brunt, in particular, is amazing and we are very grateful. We got to know Dom really well when we were involved in an Emmerdale storyline, and he happily agreed to do the promotional video for our Harrogate group.”

To find out more send an email to: info@andysmanclub.co.uk or follow AndysManClub Harrogate on Facebook.

New era beckons as £20m college rebuild begins

Work on our £20m campus rebuild is underway.

The college is replacing its main building and constructing a renewable energy hub to take its training and education provision to the next level.

The upgrade will result in state-of-the-art facilities including a mock hospital ward, digital technology suite, electric vehicle workshop and a construction centre focused on modern building methods.

Preliminary work began in February while the full construction phase, in what is currently the campus’s car park, will start in March.

First steps towards an exciting future

Principal Danny Wild, confirming the news during Colleges Week, said: “We are really excited to see work on our new campus getting underway. 

“The resulting, purpose-built facilities will allow us to keep producing the highly skilled individuals that our region’s businesses need, now and for decades to come.

“It will also allow us, while building on our close collaboration with local employers, to consolidate our position as the leading local provider of T Levels.

“We look forward to showing off the results, which will usher in an exciting new chapter for Harrogate College, its students and the people of North Yorkshire, in the summer of 2025.”

The college will run as normal throughout the building phase and students will continue to have full access to all of the existing facilities, as comprehensive safety measures will be in place to keep the building site entirely separate.

Building on green foundations

An artist's impression of the new renewable energy technology centre at Harrogate College

An artist’s impression of how the new renewable energy technology centre will look

A key focus of the upgraded campus will be on teaching sustainable technology skills, something the college, which has pledged to become net zero by 2035 and will incorporate energy efficient systems into the new buildings, has made a key priority.

Our green sector work to date has involved teaming up with local businesses like Energy Oasis, which helps organisations cut their energy bills, to hold awareness-raising events, specialist classes and more.

Energy Oasis recently trained some of our tutors in how to fit and wire up PV solar panels, so they can in turn teach the students. Founder Mike Kaye hailed the campus rebuild as a demonstration of the college’s ‘deep-seated commitment to sustainability’.

He said: “We are really proud that the college is looking to become a centre of renewable and sustainable excellence.

“This is one of the fastest growing areas in the economy and the more people, whether they are just starting off or looking for a career change, who can be trained up in these skills and deployed into the workforce, the better.

“By offering comprehensive energy and sustainability courses, Harrogate College is arming students with the necessary skills to lead the way towards a greener future. We look forward to working with them and supporting them in this new era.”

Plugging skill gaps across North Yorkshire

Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones added: “As well as enhancing the facilities available to Harrogate College students, this £20 million new campus will bring many broader benefits to Harrogate, Knaresborough and the wider area.

“With many of the courses set to be on offer at the new campus geared toward sectors where there are currently local skills shortages, the development will provide a real boost to local economies, providing valuable opportunities for our young people and adults.”

The new main campus building is due to be completed by July 2025.

College launching courses for adults in Ripon

Full and part-time adult education and training programmes are now available to more people and businesses across the county.

Adults looking for training opportunities local to Ripon, Pateley Bridge and Boroughbridge can now study a selection of our courses at Ripon Community House. 

From June 2024, the college will be running a six-week Progression into Care course, as well as a series of short adult learning programmes that will act as ‘skills bootcamps’ for those interested in developing skills within a particular area. 

The first skills session, which begins on Monday 10 June, focuses on social media marketing and is specifically tailored to teaching small businesses and entrepreneurs how to market a company to online audiences.

Further courses, including in GCSE maths and English, are set to follow in September. And the college is exploring the practicalities of offering more options, including in health and social care, at Ripon Community House as the year progresses.

Courses for adults starting in June

Explore the below courses in more detail

Reaching out across the county

The new offering is part of a collaborative push with North Yorkshire Council. It is hoped that launching these courses in Ripon will provide the local community with an adult education and skills training service that caters to all residents of the wider Harrogate district.

“Harrogate is a great town that we’re proud to support, but it isn’t easily reachable for many people in other parts of the county,” says Principal Danny Wild. 

“Having a course delivery site in Ripon, which is also easier to reach for people who live in places like Pateley Bridge and Boroughbridge, is an important step towards being more accessible to our community.”

Programme manager Matt Hanson added: “We’re really excited to be offering adults in the Ripon area the opportunity to study with us.

“The skills bootcamps, as well as our GCSE offerings, are an important step towards job progression. We are also looking forward to working with Ripon’s businesses to create courses that meet their needs and build on the strengths of the local workforce.”

The college works closely with local businesses to ensure it is providing the training they need and hopes its move into Ripon will encourage more employers from the area to join its flourishing employers’ network.

Looking to learn something new? Browse our full range of courses for adults.

‘A fantastic achievement’ – top grades for our artists

Our MA Creative Practice students have been celebrating completing their degrees in style.

Six learners, Catt van Leijen, Alexis Skarratt, Zoe Nicholson, Karen Hood, Hannah Alderson and Zoe Phillips, recently finished their degrees.

Between them they achieved five distinctions and a merit, to the delight of Creative Practice MA Programme Manager Dr Annabel Smith.

A celebration of talent

Annabel, who joined four of the students recently at their graduation ceremony, said: “For our six students to graduate with top results is a fantastic achievement and a real tribute to their talent and drive.

“It was a lovely moment of pride and joy to watch them receive their certificates. We also celebrated for the two who couldn’t make it on the day, Zoe Phillips and Hannah Alderson.”

Each student undertook a major final project to secure their qualification, with topics ranging from wild swimming and the threats of pollution, to the nature of creativity itself.

Life-changing projects

Alexis Skarratt’s Interruptions involved working with survivors of domestic abuse and incorporating their own words into a powerful multi-media installation.

She said: “I believe, as a mother of two children, that we should use the arts to explore topics that are difficult to address and as a starting point for meaningful conversations.”

Commenting on Alexis’ work, Dr Smith said: “This has been a life-changing project and deeply moving for all the participants and audience.”

For her final project Hannah Alderson, meanwhile, was inspired to explore the wellbeing benefits of working with clay after noticing how it had helped reduce her own anxiety.

Creative Practice student Hannah Alderson's poster for her Clay exhibition

Praising the resulting exhibition, tutor Caroline Miekina said: “Hannah’s posters, showcasing her research into exploratory activities with clay in the community, and her delicate, understated ceramics were presented to great advantage and attracted a lot of interest.”

Hannah is now working with health professionals with a view to starting a PhD on the subject.

New survey shines light on the benefits of college

It’s official – going to college helps you land your dream job.

That is one of the key findings from a new national survey of 1,000 alumni across the UK – including former students based in Harrogate and Leeds.

We commissioned the research to shine a light on the many benefits of a college education, and are publishing the results to help celebrate Colleges Week.

Seventy percent of those asked told researchers, Perspectus Global that college had helped them get the career they wanted, while an overwhelming majority – 93% – would recommend college to others.

College-goers also reported going on to earn good wages in their post-study careers, with just over half (52%) now being on annual salaries of between £25,000 and £45,000 – and 14% earning more than £50,000. Those figures compare favourably with both the UK’s (£33,000, in this Statista report) and Yorkshire and the Humber’s (£30,000) median annual salaries for 2022.

Nearly half of those surveyed, meanwhile – 47% – now hold managerial, supervisory or directorial positions.

A path to secure an exciting future

Our Principal, Danny Wild said: “These findings show how college education is helping so many people learn new skills to open up fresh opportunities and land exciting jobs in the areas that inspire them.

“We have so many talented people, of all ages, whose skills, and ambitions, are equally well served through pursuing technical and vocationally focused courses, such as T Levels, Higher Technical qualifications and apprenticeships, rather than taking the university or more traditionally academic route.

“Colleges like ours at Harrogate and others across the country are working closely with employers to ensure we can offer such students fantastic opportunities to earn real-world experience of their chosen industries while they’re studying.

“As this research clearly demonstrates, this approach is really reaping rewards in terms of getting people into the jobs they want across so many sectors – and in many cases leading to well-paid, senior roles.”

Opening opportunities into all kinds of industries

The survey reveals that college opens up career opportunities across a wide variety of fields, ranging from hospitality, healthcare, construction and engineering to digital technology, science, the environment sector and finance.

The majority (50%) of those asked cited ‘to learn a skill to set them up for their career’ as the main reason they had chosen to go to college, though many (37%) also said their choice was down to a love of learning.

Learning new skills and gaining real-life work experience was what most respondents (48%) said was the best thing about their college experience.

For more details on Colleges Week 2023, which runs from 9-20 October this year, visit aoc.co.uk/love-our-colleges/colleges-week

*The photograph shows restaurant and hotel general manager Neil Mendoza and chef Callum Bowmer, who have both thrived in the hospitality sector after studying at Harrogate College.

Shining an artistic light on nature

‘Absolutely amazing!’

That is how MA Creative Practice student, Hannah Alderson, is feeling after her work was selected for a major exhibition.

Hannah and one of our graduates, Lisa Lundqvist, are among the artists taking part in the The Secret Life of Hedgerows display at Danby Lodge National Park Centre.

The pair’s paintings, prints and other works have already been viewed by thousands of visitors and will remain on show until Monday 6 November.

Lisa and Hannah were invited to get involved after exhibition curator Sally-Ann Smith had seen examples of their work at the British Craft Trade Fair, and was impressed.

Hannah, who is on course to complete her degree this year, is exhibiting a mixture of nature-themed collagraph prints and watercolour paintings.

Relishing an incredible opportunity – and course

She said: “My three watercolours are of thistles, which I love as they provide an excellent source of food and shelter for insects and birds along our hedgerows.

“It feels absolutely amazing to have my work exhibited and sold at such a beautiful gallery, surrounded by the stunning North York Moors.”

Reflecting on her course, she added: “The MA has been an incredible experience and I have gained so much confidence in myself, my work and as an artist. I focused mainly on ‘wellbeing through art’, in particular through using clay, and the course has enabled me to explore something that otherwise I’d not have been able to do.”

Artist Lisa Lundqvist with her paintings in The Secret Life of Hedgerows exhibition at Danby Lodge National Park Centre

Lisa, who graduated a couple of years ago, was also hand-picked for the Danby Lodge exhibition. She said: “Sally-Ann felt my organic, semi-abstract art suited the subject matter and she particularly liked the textural qualities I achieved by painting in oil mixed with cold wax medium.

“All of the artists were invited to a study day where we were given a guided tour of the farms, fields and hedgerows in the North York Moors National Park.

“It was exciting meeting the other participants and then seeing the results of all our hard work come to fruition. The differing artistic interpretations, mediums and styles makes for a fascinating and engaging exhibition.”

‘Just rewards’ for talented students

MA Creative Practice Programme Manager, Dr Annabel Smith, has been delighted to watch the progress of both artists.

She said: “This is exactly the kind of opportunity we love to see our students securing before and after graduation.

“It is a testament to Hannah and Lisa’s talent that their works are being featured in a high-profile display, alongside those of seven other skilled artists, like this.

“The exhibition will be seen by so many visitors who can admire both the quality and the scope of the work, which includes ceramics, textiles and print.”

The Secret Life of Hedgerows exhibition is free and can be viewed at Danby Lodge National Park Centre’s Inspired by… gallery.

New scheme gives ‘invaluable’ work experience to young people with learning disabilities

An NHS organisation in Harrogate has been benefitting from the hard work of Harrogate College students, as part of a new supported internship scheme.

Since last September, four interns have been given roles within Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust and Harrogate Integrated Facilities (HIF) and tasked with working in areas ranging from IT and equipment services to gardening. 

The supported internships programme supports young adults with special educational needs and disabilities to learn while gaining real employability and work skills.

The scheme is run in collaboration with DFN Project SEARCH, who provide one-year transition programmes based on their successful international model, first used in Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in the USA.

In England, just 4% with a learning disability go on to secure paid employment, compared to 80% of their peers. Supported internships offer a structured transition from education to employment, offering invaluable work experience for those taking their first step into the job market.

The interns are given the opportunity to rotate through different departments, and are offered close one-to-one support from their college tutors.

Janine Stephens, SEND Internship Coordinator at Harrogate College, said: “This programme is one of the first of its kind, and we’re delighted to be involved in creating opportunities for young people who are often overlooked.

“It’s great to see the interns getting stuck into different types of work and watching their confidence grow as a result.

“I’m incredibly proud of their achievements; we’ve had some great feedback from the departments they’ve been a part of. One of our students has even managed to land himself a full-time role in sterile services.

“They are a real asset to themselves and the college.”

One of the interns, Ciaran Smith has been working with the grounds team at HIF, and believes the programme has given him the self-assurance to enter the world of work.

Ciaran said, “I have really enjoyed the challenges Project SEARCH has given me.

Ciaran’s mum Gill added, “I cannot speak highly enough of the people working on this programme. For the first time, I am looking at my son’s future with a feeling of optimism.”

To find out more about supported internships and other apprenticeship opportunities, visit: https://harrogate-college.ac.uk/apprenticeships/

Helping Harrogate’s young carers cook up some fun

Young carers have been putting their culinary skills to the test with us.

Members of the Harrogate Young Carers group – part of Carers’ Resource – have all had to shoulder the responsibility of looking after a sibling, parent or other relative at an early age.

That means they often have limited opportunities to enjoy themselves, so when they do get a chance to have fun they grab it.

The college helped them do just that recently when we invited 18 young carers along to use the training kitchens.

The visitors made the most of the opportunity by creating pizzas from scratch, batches of brownies and more. The event was supported by RAF Menwith Hill, which supplied the ingredients, and Heck Food Ltd, which donated a variety of sausages so the children could guess what each one was made of.

A great day out making treats

Young Care Practitioner at Carers’ Resource, Linda Hall said: “The young carers had a fantastic time; the feedback was that they had the best day ever, and didn’t want it to end!

“This was a chance for them to have some respite, away from their caring roles, and to be with others who are in the same situation. They had the pizzas that they made for lunch, made brownies to take home, and enjoyed quizzes about chocolate and other foods.

“The venue was perfect for them as they feel really grown up there, and love the whole set-up of the kitchens. We are very grateful to the college for the invitation and its support.”

The kitchens are usually used by our catering and hospitality students, including on themed dining nights which are open to the public. This autumn the facilities will also be used by those who sign up for two new courses, an After School Cookery Club and, for adults, an Italian cooking course.

A warm welcome for ‘extraordinary visitors

We have invited young carers in to use the kitchens before, as part of our wider support for the group. Hospitality Programme Manager, Jason Parry said: “These young people do extraordinary things every day for others, while also having to deal with their studies and all their other everyday duties.

“So they thoroughly deserve any chance they can get to have fun and enjoy some carefree moments.

“We are delighted to support groups like Harrogate Young Carers, which do such brilliant work in our local community, whenever we can.  They are welcome back any time.”

The team at Carers’ Resource supports young carers in the Bradford, Harrogate, Craven and Selby districts by organising trips, activities, mentoring, youth clubs and more. To find out more visit www.carersresource.org/young-carers/ .

High fives from the High Sheriff

Our students have been rubbing shoulders with a high profile guest who once stood in their shoes – the High Sheriff of North Yorkshire.

It has been decades since Clare Granger was last at the campus as a student of fine art, but lots of happy memories came flooding back when she visited on Monday 11 September.

The High Sheriff discussed our sustainability work, our commitment to delivering an employer-led curriculum, and the plans for our new £20 million building with Principal Danny Wild.

She also enjoyed looking around our creative facilities, including textiles, painting, photography, ceramics, printing and media makeup, during a whistle-stop tour.

She said: “How exciting to be back here after quite a few years – I was here probably during the nineties!”

Creativity and wellbeing

Ms Granger was intrigued to hear about MA Creative Practice graduate Hannah Alderson, who is now exploring how working with clay can help reduce mental health conditions like anxiety.

MA Creative Practice Programme Manager, Dr Annabel Smith, told the High Sheriff: “Hannah noticed, when she started to work with clay, how it immediately helped her own anxiety and wanted to find out more.

“She’s now taken research into that further and is working with doctors, psychologists and psychiatrists with a view to starting a PhD: all while keeping a busy home life going.”

Ms Granger said: “Part of the theme of my High Sheriff year is exactly what Hannah’s doing, exploring the links between creativity and wellbeing.”

Technical training, including in green skills such as sustainable energy, low carbon construction, retrofit and electric vehicle maintenance, is at the core of what we do.

So the High Sheriff was also shown around the campus’s construction yard, where she viewed a model passivhaus building – created using ultra-efficient energy use standards – and the bricklaying and solar panels areas.

Lecturer Denise Cain, meanwhile, explained how the hair and beauty salons were producing skilled hairdressers, while Hospitality Programme Manager, Jason Parry, led a tour of the training kitchens.

Praise for our focus on technical skills

Reflecting on her visit, Ms Granger was full of praise for projects including the Harrogate College Employers’ Network.

She said: “What a wonderful initiative to find out what skills the businesses are predominantly looking for and to train the students accordingly. It sounds simple but so often we seem to struggle to provide the skilled workforce that is required. 

”I enjoyed seeing and hearing all about the various courses offered and it was so good to hear of the response by the college to sustainability.”

Referring to the new building, she added: “It certainly sounds as though that will be tremendously exciting. I shall certainly look forward to seeing it when it is complete.”

Danny said: “It was a real pleasure to welcome Clare, both as the High Sheriff of North Yorkshire and a very successful former student, so she could see all the different things we are doing now.”

The employers’ network, which was set up to create a direct link between the college and businesses, now has 127 members.

*Photographs by Matt Radcliffe Photography