A WOMAN who has been a carer for her disabled son for 27 years is embarking on a career as a counsellor with help from ELWa.
Susan Jeffries, of Acton, has taken care of her son Lee all his life. Lee is wheelchair-bound. He was born with Spina Bifida, a condition which affects the spine and central nervous system.
Now, after seeing him battle against his condition to gain some independence, Susan is doing the same.
'His illness gets worse all the time and it is so difficult for him,' said Susan, 45. 'But recently he has dug in and said enough is enough. He has become a classroom assistant and is battling to lead a more normal life.'
Lee's new determination impacted on his mum, who left school at 16 with no qualifications.
'I decided it was time for me to make a change as well,' she said.
'I looked through Yale College's prospectus and enquired about a Training Initiative Intermediate Certificate in Counselling.
'I didn't think about it at the time but I suppose my choice was influenced by caring for Lee for so many years.
'The course was a little expensive for me and I couldn't afford it until the college suggested I apply for an Individual Learning Account (ILA).'
ILA is a Government initiative run by ELWa in Wales. It is available direct through colleges and also through some places of work and is a grant of up to £200 to pay for an adult education course.
It doesn't have to be work-related as long as it is improving you in some way personally but it is available to all adult learners.
'I left school without any formal qualifications,' said Susan. 'I never thought I would get the op-
portunity to have an actual career because I thought I would be taking care of Lee all his life.
'Now he has begun doing new things and the time has come for me to do something, too.
'I spoke with my husband John about it and we decided I should do the course. I claimed £160 of my ILA allowance and enjoyed the course a lot.
'Now I am looking for a placement to take up around Christ-mastime in order to gain more experience to complete my course.
'Helping people gives me a great feeling that I am doing something worthwhile. Not only have I found a new career path but I have greater enthusiasm, confidence and self-esteem too.'
To find out more about how you can access ILA contact 0800 100900 or visit www.ilawales.com. nIf you are a counselling organisation or you employ counsellors within your business or industry and wish to offer a placement to Susan to begin at Christmas, she can be contacted through the Wrexham Mail on 01978 351515 or at Wrexham Mail, Unit 2, Daniel Owen Precinct, Mold CH7 1AP.