MP opens reprieved Norwich learning centre

Steve DownesNorwich South MP Charles Clarke paid tribute to people who have a second stab at learning yesterday as he officially opened a centre for adult learners in the heart of the city.Steve Downes

Norwich South MP Charles Clarke paid tribute to people who have a second stab at learning yesterday as he officially opened a centre for adult learners in the heart of the city.

Mr Clarke visited The Forum to give his endorsement to the Pitman Training Learning Station, which was threatened with closure when Norwich City College withdrew its support last year for what was then called the Learning Station.

Pitman Training stepped in, and the facility is now helping hundreds of people to boost their skills or get back into employment after being made redundant.

Mr Clarke said: 'I want to congratulate the learners. What you have in common is absolute determination to acknowledge that education and training are what you need to make a difference to your lives.

'It's hard to go back into education. We live in a world where change is happening and is going to happen more and more quickly. You cannot just stop the world and get off but have to ask 'how can I be on top of it?' Education and training is the way to be on top of it.'

Glyn Woodman, managing director of Pitman Training Norwich, said: 'This is a proud moment for Pitman Training. We have more than 1,000 learners per year coming to use this centre and it fills a void at a difficult time. These kinds of centres are absolutely essential.'

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The first-floor centre has 20 computers and the support of experienced trainers, giving learners the choice of studying at The Forum or from home.

As well as Learndirect and Pitman Training courses, the Learning Station will be the only Norfolk centre for 'Life in the UK' testing - a compulsory Home Office training course for people who are not automatically entitled to live and work in the UK.

t For more information, call Pitman Training Norwich on 01603 619769.

t Have you got an against-the-odds story of returning to learning? Call Steve Downes on 01603 772495 or email

Trish Mattless from Mattishall, came to the Pitman Training Learning Centre at The Forum after being made redundant after 12 years with one employer.

Mrs Mattless was working part-time at Grolier Books at Bowthorpe, but qualified for retraining funding when she left.

She said: 'I chose to come and do a computer literacy and information technology level two course. I had used computers with my work, but as technology advanced I didn't advance with it.

'It has helped me to get over being a technophobe.'

She added: 'I can learn from home, but I come in here at least once a week. It's keeping my brain active.'

Adam Aldous was out of work for a year. But taking a numeracy course and then enrolling on a literacy course has helped the 28-year-old find work as a home carer for the elderly.

Mr Aldous, from Cecil Road, Norwich, is currently doing a pre-entry course at the Pitman Training Learning Centre, before he embarks on literacy level two.

He said: 'This certainly helped me to get a job. The maths and English were definitely holding me back because employers want you to have qualifications in both.

'It has also helped me with my confidence. The courses get you using your brain in a different way. I feel like I am getting back into the flow of education after a long time out of it.'