Paula Harding has had a huge impact on the lives of the young people she works with, developing the Learning 4 Life centre in Pontypridd and forging new partnerships within the community.

L4L is a prevocational programme for young people who are currently unable to access mainstream education or employment, some may have experienced mental health issues, substance misuse, offending behaviours or homelessness.

Paula possesses a determination and belief in her learners, building trust no matter how challenging the situation. An adult learner herself, she left school with 3 GCSE’s and returning to university gave her belief in the value of post 16 education.

She says, “This job gives me the opportunity to work with young people who have been let down while in education - they could have gone through personal or family issues have a learning difficulty; or have very chaotic lives when going through school”.

Paula has nurtured many learners beyond the learning environment, to tackle wider issues that impact on their self-esteem or ability to engage. This has meant getting shoes that fit, spare clothes and toiletries or help to navigate the welfare system.

The success of Paula’s tutoring is evidenced in the experience of “Joe”, he had been anxious, withdrawn and living in poverty. Tackling the wider issues in Joe’s life has meant he has now been able to improve his life chances; gaining accreditations, interview techniques with building self-esteem and moving onto volunteering.