Should people be able to access free training to help them improve key skills?

We believe that they should.  Learning, whether free or not, is a great way of giving us a new perspective to call on outside of what we do or know on a day-to-day basis.  Of course there are lots of other benefits too – the opportunity to socialise, be creative and be inspired, become more confident and give us a practical know-how to apply to our everyday lives.  Importantly, it can be the starting point of a journey back into paid employment or even voluntary work.

Should courses be free?  Perhaps this is less about whether they should be and more about whether they need to be.  Our experience is that to encourage participation from a broad audience we need to provide financial support.  We’re aware that some people are unlikely to have the resources to pay for child care or transport, never mind the course itself.

So with that in mind and given that we’re always looking for new ways to help our customers, we’ve responded to their request to learn by launching a diverse training programme for 2012 / 2013.

All the courses we offer are completely free, we even provide the refreshments and travel expenses! To make these courses accessible to all, we work with customers to arrange childcare through the Customer Involvement Team.

From this month, our customers will be able to take advantage of a number of free courses, from first aid and DIY to helping to tackle anti social behaviour and basic bookkeeping.

We’ve also introduced new courses after feedback from our customers asking for more variety. Basic decorating, food hygiene, discovering the internet and project management have all been added to the new training agenda.

Our courses are delivered in a creative and friendly manner – we want the experience to be fun and positive for everyone involved.

A lot of the courses are actually delivered by our own staff, who provide local expertise in their particular fields. We also team up with local partners including Bolton College, Bolton Money Skills, TLC Learning Academy and Proffitt’s to ensure that the training we deliver is of a high standard.

The training programme is diverse. As well as reflecting what our customers want, it’s a reflection of our commitment to creating homes and neighbourhoods we can all be proud of .

The only downside is that places are limited and allocated on a ‘first come first served’ basis. So don’t hang about!  You can view the jam packed programme for the next 12 months here or email me on


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