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Reece was struggling to find his direction, now he hopes to be the friendly face that helps make life better for those living with dementia

When Reece signed up to a part-time course at Stockton Riverside College, he felt pretty certain it wouldn’t work out.

Having previously struggled to settle into education, he couldn’t see why this one would be any different.

“I didn’t have a GCSE or qualification to my name,” he said.  And quick to challenge his tutor, refusing even to remove his cap, he thought it would be a matter of weeks before he was kicked out.

Today, with qualifications and celebrating a new job, fortunately the 20-year-old from Thornaby and his tutor can laugh about those early days.

As it turns out, he just needed an extra ally in his corner, along with finding a subject that was right for him.

Studying the Level 1 and then Level 2 Preparing to Work in Adult Social Care course, brought out strengths he didn’t realise he had.

Reece has now secured a job as a residential care worker on a dementia unit and is looking forward to continuing to develop those skills.

“With the amount of people that don’t have family members they can see during the lockdown, to be able to go into work and be a friendly face, will make a massive difference,” he said.

His compassion comes, in no small part, from his relationship with his nana, who lived with dementia for 20 years.

Before she passed away earlier this year, he said: “Living with her, we were lucky as I got to see her every day.”

While she wasn’t aware of his achievements over the last 12 months, his main aim, he said, was “to make her smile and laugh”.

Now due to start his level 3 at the college next month, as well as working towards his maths and English qualifications, he said: “When I started the course I said I would be out by next week. Two levels later I am still here.

“I am a lot calmer, a lot more focused and have generally had my mind opened more to other people.

“My family are proud of me. It is nice to be able to go home and say I have achieved something.”

His tutor Leanne Barker said: “The change in Reece’s attitude towards college and his classmates has been one of the things I am most proud of. He is no longer the hard lad or clown but someone who respects rules, shows respect to others, is supportive and comes to learn.

“He has the makings of a very supportive adult care worker, who will be a great asset to any service.”

To find out more about the part-time study options at Stockton Riverside College visit: Part-Time (19 Plus Courses) | Stockton Riverside College

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