Young care worker wins prestigious learning award

11 May 2011

Jonathan Elkhuja, aged 21, from Welwyn Garden City, has just been awarded the prestigious Regional Individual Award as part of the 20th annual Adult Learners’ Week, 14-20 May.

Jonathon has gone from living in sheltered housing to living independently and pursuing a career in care. His dedication and commitment to learning is being recognised through this award.

When Jonathon went to live independently in sheltered housing he was encouraged by support staff to enrol on a Ready for Work course at the College, to help him get a job.
Jonathon was keen on a career in care and started a work placement at Oaklands College supporting learners with disabilities. He then studied on a level 1 Health and Social Care course at the College and, as part of the Transition to Employment Program, undertook another work placement at Greenacres Residential Home for the elderly, where he excelled and was offered a part-time job.
Supported by his employer, Jonathon is due to start studying a BTEC in Dementia Care and NVQ2 Social Care qualification at Oaklands College. His achievements are all the more outstanding due to him having overcome dyslexia and a physical disability. Jonathon is now enjoying independent living and supporting himself, with future plans to study at university.

Jonathan comments: “The first time I became aware of being different was when I started at a secondary school.  When I got stuck in reading, people used to take the mickey out of me. That made me feel down and stopped me wanting to learn and improve.

“I started working with Ela Nisbet, the Transition Worker, who helped me figure out what I was good at and what I felt passionate about in life. She organised a supported work placement at Oaklands, where I had special support and opportunity to learn about working with disabled learners, some with severe learning disabilities. The biggest challenge for me was helping them to read and I had to work really hard to overcome this fear that I had all my life.

“Being encouraged by my tutor on the Ready for Work course and working with Ela and having this work placement at the college made me think about my strengths and abilities, about what I actually can do, not what other people thought that I could do.

“It made me feel stronger in myself, something that I have not felt since I left primary school.  I realised that everyone is different and that being yourself IS different. You can get further in life by being yourself.
“I also realised that the passion for caring that I had since my childhood was the one thing that kept me going all these years, even though I had to work hard to overcome my barriers, I knew that I would succeed in the end.  

“I hope that in time, with more experience and further qualifications, I will be able to make a real difference to the lives of people who are less able than myself.”

 Ela Nisbet, Outreach Transition Worker, Oaklands College said: “Jonathan is extremely positive in his attitude, willing to work hard, learn and help others. He stood out from the crowd at the beginning of his time here at Oaklands and quickly got involved in extra curricular activities at Oaklands College.

“This gave him a real confidence boost and a period of work experience at Oaklands College, where Jonathon had the opportunity to use his unique skills working in a supporting role for young people with learning difficulties and disabilities (including the most severe), led to Jonathon’s discovery of his true vocation – Care Work.

“Jonathon’s achievements are inspirational on every level, having been attained while battling with severe dyslexia and trying to achieve independence in his personal life. He refused to live his life being dependent on the social benefits he was entitled to. Instead he fought a hard battle to achieve his goals, success and independence.”

Zoe Hancock, Principal of Oaklands College, said: “We are extremely proud of Jonathan and hope that his story will inspire many other young people to achieve their goals and reach their full potential.”