A college distance learning programme is helping a volunteer Scout leader who is shielding from the coronavirus to improve her skills while in isolation at home. With geography no barrier to learning online, North Warwickshire and South Leicestershire College (NWSLC) has been able to help Megan Taylor even though she lives in Surrey.
Megan, who has never allowed her disabilities to get in the way of learning new skills, is currently taking advantage of the lockdown to improve her understanding of autism through a distance learning course that she is able to follow for free with NWSLC.
Megan said, “I decided to sign up for the Level 2 course in Understanding Autism so that I can better understand and support my friends with ASD, as well as any children with ASD that I may work with in my role as a volunteer Scout Leader. Because of the coronavirus lockdown, I have lots of spare time, so it’s the perfect opportunity to gain new knowledge and skills. I am registered as severely sight impaired so being able to access my course materials online is helpful, as it enables me to use my screen reader. I also have several other medical conditions which means I need to take regular breaks. Distance learning allows me to study and work through the assessments at my own pace.
“Due to my complex medical needs and disabilities I am unable to work full time but do support a number of charities in a voluntary capacity. This includes working as a fundraising volunteer and speaker with Guide Dogs, a youth leader with the Scout Association, and also running my online blog ‘Ruby & Rowley the Superdogs’ to raise awareness of hidden disabilities and the role of disability assistance and guide dogs. I usually enjoy taking part in several disability-based sports such as adaptive cycling, guided running, and swimming, as well as going on long walks and hikes with my dogs.
“I am in the ‘clinically extremely vulnerable’ category due to immunosuppressant medication and low dose chemotherapy treatment for autoimmune disease. I am not allowed to leave my house at all, even for essentials or exercise, and so I am relying on others for help. Thankfully, I have a large garden for Rowley, my disability assistance dog, to play in with my retired dog, Ruby, who is now my pet. Rowley is missing his guiding work but is kept busy with duties including helping me to get undressed, picking up dropped items, and emptying the washing machine. He can even warn me about oncoming fainting attacks so that I can lie down safely before I fall. He does this by using his incredible sense of smell to detect small biochemical changes in my body. Rowley is a truly remarkable dog and has potentially saved my life over 900 times with his alerts.
“I have been a Scout Leader and Network Member for over five years having first joined the movement over 18 years ago as a six-year-old Beaver Scout. Scouting is an inclusive organisation which welcomes those with additional needs including me and my guide dog Rowley. By completing this course, I hope to learn more about autism so that I can better support young people on the spectrum to achieve their full potential.
“On a more personal level, I have a number of friends with an autism diagnosis and I hope this course will enable me to be a better and more understanding friend to them.”
With the coronavirus lockdown sending people online like never before, NWSLC has been re-directing many of its tutors into online assessment roles to cope with the increased demand for distance learning.
Marion Plant, OBE FCGI, Principal and Chief Executive of NWSLC said, “I am delighted to hear that we have been able to help Megan cope with her situation and to learn new skills at this difficult time. Our distance learning offer is ideal for everyone, wherever they are based, to help them cope with restrictions on their usual activities. Distance learning is a great way to continue studying from home. It also enables employers to upskill their staff and those on furlough to develop new skills and gain qualifications.”
The college offers free* online and distance learning courses that lead to fully accredited, nationally recognised Level 2 qualifications in a range of subjects from health and wellbeing to business and management.
To follow a distance learning course with NWSLC, you must be a British EU or EEA a citizen, have been a permanent resident of the UK, EU or EEA for the whole of the previous three years and be over 19. If you are aged between 19 and 23, you must already hold a Level 2 qualification. If you choose to complete the course online, you will need a computer or a laptop and access to the internet. If not, you will just need writing materials for the postal work booklet.
*Terms and conditions apply