New campaign encourages Bristol residents to Love Learning

Citizens are being encouraged to discover a love of learning and share their stories as part of a new year-long campaign launching today.

Kicking off with Love Learning Week (8 – 14 February), which coincides with half term, the campaign is designed to promote and celebrate opportunities for everyone to learn in Bristol this year. From Monday onwards the public will begin to notice Love Learning signs popping up across the city, which highlight an opportunity to get involved.

As part of the campaign, during Love Learning Week Bristol’s museums, Junction 3 and Hillfields Libraries will be hosting events for children, families and adults. Activities range from reading lessons, puppet making and crafting Victorian Valentine’s cards, to adult drawing classes and taster sessions showing residents how to map their family trees.

The campaign highlights the fact that Bristol has become a Learning City, which means that organisations from across the city have joined forces to help promote and celebrate learning opportunities for everyone. Learning Cities are being established all over the world. They’re based on the idea that by working together and learning together, we can transform lives, organisations and places.

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said:

“Learning has the tremendous potential to break down social barriers and increase social mobility. By planning together and promoting opportunities for everyone, of all ages, backgrounds and communities, we can make Bristol a better place for all. Partnership working is at the heart of this, and in becoming a Learning City we have joined over 50 organisations behind this shared vision.

“2016 is our year of learning in Bristol, which is exciting and inspirational. Of course there are some challenges that we will be focusing on throughout the year, to improve opportunities for learning, both formal and informal, in schools and colleges, at work and in the wider community.”

Councillor Brenda Massey, Assistant Mayor for People with responsibility for Education and Skills, said:

“A love of learning often starts at school and education in Bristol has greatly improved over the past decade. Most pupils now attend ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ schools and this has been reflected in the most recent exam results. Working with our partners to build on this success, we will be raising the profile of education in the city and taking the opportunity to promote the benefits of lifelong learning.”

More than 40 Learning Ambassadors have been recruited to help spread the word across Bristol and get others excited about the idea during Love Learning Week and beyond.

Deborah Wheeler, mature student at University of Bristol, single mum with five children and one of the Learning Ambassadors, said:

“After leaving school at sixteen with few qualifications I worked as a nurse until the birth of my youngest child, and survived on benefits for nearly thirteen years. Bouts of depression and anxiety have added to the struggle and at times meant I was only interacting with my family for fear of having to talk to anyone else.

“Things changed after my GP referred me to a therapist who took me to SPAN (Single Parent Action Network) which was very local to me. I started by doing a parenting course and went on to do others, which helped me to get my confidence back and start trying new things. In April 2013, at the grand age of 49, through SPAN I found the courage to apply for an Arts and Humanities foundation course at Bristol University – and I was accepted. I passed that and I’m now almost halfway through my second year of a History degree. The logistics of balancing family life with learning has been a challenge, but I feel so passionately about how learning has changed my life that I want to share my story to encourage others to make positive changes. It really is never too late to learn something new.”

During Love Learning Week, local people are being encouraged to share stories about how learning has benefitted them and encourage more people to take the plunge. Stories can be submitted via the Learning City website and will be showcased across a range of on and offline media, including social media sites and travelling exhibitions.