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Open College Network West Midlands Centres: Lifetime learning for all

St Basils

St Basils lifeskills achievement through Open College Network West Midlands


Manjit Dhillon, Lifeskills Coordinator at St Basils explains how Open College Network West Midlands Qualifications are helping young people to get work ready.

“The Open College Network West Midlands qualifications in Progression are fantastic for enabling young people to gain knowledge and skills in a variety of vocational areas such as cooking healthy meals, literacy and numeracy, parenting, employability, and personal budgeting”

Manjit Dhillon, St Basil’s Life Skills Coordinator

In November 2014 St Basils, the Birmingham-based charity that works with young people aged 16-25 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, held its annual celebration event to recognise and celebrate the achievement of Life Skills Awards accredited by Open College Network West Midlands.

St Basils houses over 1,000 young people a year in their 27 locations across Birmingham, Solihull and North Worcestershire.  Many who come to St Basils have had difficult journeys up to that point and are looking for a permanent tenancy. Once housed with St Basils young people are offered the chance to work with an adviser who is skilled at building their confidence, broadening their horizons and developing the skill set to enable them to make the transition to adult life and reach their potential.

The training courses offered are intended to enable young people to gain essential life skills. This Life Skills programme consist of units of study selected from the Open College Network West Midlands Qualifications in Progression, which offeropportunities to a range of young people to gain knowledge and skills in a variety of subject areas such as cooking healthy meals, literacy and numeracy, parenting, employability, and personal budgeting.  The qualifications provide a flexible approach to study, enabling learners to sample a wide range of vocational areas. These qualifications are also stepping stones to further study and enable the development of generic transferable skills, including teamwork, communication, time management and initiative.

Open College Network West Midlands’ Quality Adviser Mike Anderson attended the Awards Ceremony and said:

‘St Basils believes that the achievements of these young people deserve celebration and I was privileged to attend their awards ceremony. Before the presentations and inspirational speakers I spoke with Michelle who, with her sister, was enjoying the buzz of the evening and looking forward to receiving her certificate. But behind the smiles was a familiar story of homelessness because of an impossible family circumstance. Thanks to St Basils, their skilled adviser and the Life Skills training programme, Michelle had realistic plans of training to be a nurse.’

Mike Anderson, Open College Network West Midlands' Quality Adviser

Part of the celebration included inspirational speakers who themselves had been with St Basils and gone on to achieve great things. One of the speakers, Ashleigh, came to St. Basils in 2007 when she was 16. Whilst living with St. Basils she completed the Life Skills Programme and is now a Law graduate. If any of the young people needed inspiration Ashleigh spoke to them directly, urging them to aim high – ‘if I can do it then so can you’.  She spoke of the importance of developing essential skills and how, when she went on to university, she was the only one in the house who could cook a healthy meal and knew a lot more about contraception than her housemates!

Councillor, Sharon Thompson presented the awards.

The evening also included a presentation of certificates endorsed by Open College Network West Midlands to the advisers working with the young people and Life Skills coordinator, Manjit Dhillon.

Open College Network West Midlands is proud to be associated with St Basils and are working actively with them to extend the range of accredited training that they can offer to young people like Michelle.

St Basils is a charity and do not receive any government or council funding to provide services to young people. They rely on charitable donations and grants.

More information can be found about them at

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