Case Studies

Please see below for a short video demonstrating some of VOLA’s case studies.


Learner Stories

Gary, Learner with Torus Foundation, Get Yourself Online

Gary Brown started work when he was 17 and has mainly worked in warehouse jobs.  Gary is the oldest in his family, he has 2 younger sisters who live in Bury but no family close by.  After a period of personal issues caused by alcohol addiction, where he was not in contact with his family, he has started to work on rebuilding his relationships with them and now feels really close to them.  Because of restrictions due to COVID, throughout the last few months he has felt very isolated.

That was until he got engaged with Torus Foundation Health and Well-being 2 years ago.  Since being involved with Torus Foundation, he has become a Community Champion.   Gary wanted to give back to the community so he does this by volunteering at events, promoting Torus services and being part of the mystery shoppers project. Outside of this, Gary enjoys walking, cooking and keeping fit.  He also has an exceptional memory and can easily recall song lyrics and dates!

This project really appealed to Gary because he had no equipment to access to the internet.  Since receiving his tablet he has been able to use this to check his Universal Credit payments, and make appointments to see his GP.  He has also been able to have Facetime with his family. Gary suffers from anxiety and depression and at one point he wasn’t able to order his medication on time which had a major impact on him .  Having this tablet has helped him to stay on top of his appointments and medication.

Gary tells us

“I feel a bit more in control and less isolated.  Using Facetime to stay in touch has made a difference because if I didn’t I would really struggle without contact as I’m quite isolated where living at present and not been able to attend the groups.  I feel closer to my family and more involved.  I’m very grateful for the support received from James and Cath at Torus.”


Frank, Learner with Big Help Project, Get yourself Online.

Frank is 68 years old from Maghull, Merseyside.  He was widowed 10 years ago, has 2 sons and 5 grandchildren. Frank worked many different jobs throughout his working life including wagon driving.  After being made redundant a number of times he then spent 20 years being self employed and running his own businesses. Now retired, before COVID-19, Frank would go to the library a few times a week to use the computer to work on his hobby – genealogy.  Outside of this, his hobbies include grassroots football.

Frank tells us

‘I have a passion for grassroots football which I have been heavily involved in for a while. I cannot play anymore due to an accident, but I pass on my knowledge through coaching. I have been training 40 men a week, it gets me out in the fresh air and doing what I love.’

He goes on to tell how he got involved in Care Merseyside –

‘I started Care Merseyside by pure accident. I went on a six-week local history course through Cathy Connolly at Tower Hill. I was leaving the doctors after picking up repeat prescription and Cathy invited me to the creative writing class, even though it didn’t really appeal to me as I did not enjoy English in school. I went down to give it a go, and they made me welcome. I went back the following week and it went from there.

I then started the drama and the choir. Doing the three activities at Care Merseyside has been brilliant. I have enjoyed them and look forward to them each week. I have had my poetry published in the Scribbles of the Soul Poetry book by Care Merseyside and have performed my poetry at the drama group events.’

Frank didn’t have any access to the internet or a smart phone so Care Merseyside thought he would benefit greatly from the ‘Get Yourself Online’ project.   It appealed to Frank because he had been struggling as he was isolated from his family, friends, children and grandchildren and this would keep him connected to them.

We asked Frank what difference the project had made and what has helped him to get on with his life through the COVID pandemic?

  • Looking at things that I usually do through the Library.
  • Follow grassroots football. I can watch the short videos on the site.
  • My son has downloaded the news so I can keep updated.
  • Facetime my Granddaughters.
  • Doing weekly quizzes with grandchildren.
  • Video chat to son who was away in the Lake District.
  • Receiving pictures by family. (Granddaughter wanted to show him her party dress.)
  • My son lives in Cumbria. So, I was able to video chat and talk to my son and my grandchildren. I had not seen them face to face for 5 months, so it was lovely to see them and talk to them properly.
  • With the library being closed, I have not been able to go. I usually go twice a week. Having the tablet has allowed me to access things and make enquiries.

Frank is practicing using the tablet provided by the project as he understands the more he uses it the more he will benefit from it.  He is enjoying the benefits it is bringing him in lots of way.


Lesley Ann, learner with WEA, Include-IT Mersey

Lesley heard about the course through Tomorrows Women – a fantastic project based in Wirral that supports women through a variety of different interventions.  WEA are in the second year of running the Include IT Mersey course at this venue.

She started the course because she needed help to get where she needed to be to gain employment, her biggest wish. She got support to do a CV, write cover letters and practice interview techniques. She liked the course and continued to attend because as well as gaining IT skills, she was gaining life skills and confidence. Additionally she made friends and has a better social life.

In the time while Lesley was on the course, she gained the skills and the confidence to sort out her debts, secured a good new home, a new job and ultimately a better life.

Lesley told us that she didn’t have a good start in life. She’d been out of work for 10 years, had a lot of mental health problems and  losses in the family which all seemed to have lead to a break down. However, she says she is now very happy, has a lot more confidence and as a result of the course is currently in full time employment and working with debt advisors. She feels she has got her life back!

Lesley states “Since starting the course my life has gone so fast paced into a better lifestyle, I couldn’t have done it without Gill’s (tutor) help and support. I have better confidence a better life and am not looking back. 2 years ago I lost everything and turned to alcohol and drugs. I’ve come so far and I am so grateful for all the support.”


Hayder, learner at Greenbank College, Working Futures

Hayder is hoping for a career in catering.

Thanks to the support received on the Working Futures programme, Hayder Hameed, aged 20, is currently a Greenbank College student, studying City and Guilds Level 1 NVQ Certificate in Food Preparation and Cooking and hopes to get a job in the industry, when he finishes his course.
Hayder has faced a lot of challenges in his life so far and left school with no qualifications. He spent a number of years out of education before his doctor told him about the support available through the Working Futures programme.
Through the project, the staff team, based at Greenbank were able to work with Hayder to support him to make positive choices about his future.
He was helped to update his CV and think seriously about a future career. As a result of this he applied to study catering at Greenbank College and has been attending regularly since September 2016.

“Working Futures offers help for young people who want to get out the house and get busy. Things are looking a lot brighter for me now and I really love my catering course.”


Calum, Learner with Big Help Project, Working Futures.

Callum follows his dream to be a Mechanic.

Callum, joined Working Futures at The Big Help Project in Kirkby in January 2017.
When he started on the programme, it was his goal to be a mechanic and through the support that he has received from Working Futures staff he has now secured a placement with Autofix.
This resulted from the employablility support, including collating certificates, CV building and training, offered by the programme.
Callum commented:

“I was given a lot of help and support regarding CV, Job Search and having my certificates collected. This helped me gain confidence in gaining a placement with Autofix. I feel I was given a lot of time and personal effort from The Big Help Project and they all made me feel very welcome when I was at appointments. They even rang the bell and gave me a card when I was starting my job – I am going to make a donation to them.Since I have worked with Autofix I feel part of another team and my mechanical skills have really improved.”

His manager, Kenny said:
“It’s great to see a young man who has a work ethic like Callum. He turns up for work every day before us! He has never had a day off and is very competent around cars.”
Callum hopes to join Autofix permanently at the end of his placement.


Vera Keating, Learner with Rotunda, Include-IT Mersey

Vera recently returned to the UK after living in Cyprus with her 3 grandchildren of whom she has guardianship.  Because of this, Vera wanted to learn IT skills as she wanted to be able to help the children learn, not just learning about computers, but also using these skills to help teach the children other related topics such as English and maths.   A friend of Vera’s who works at Rotunda College told her about the Include-IT Mersey course.

Vera told us

“The advice was brilliant, the tutor asked us about what we really needed before we started the course.  Throughout the course, there wasn’t a question that I wasn’t comfortable to ask.  It gave me the confidence to learn new skills and I was encouraged to practice them.  I’m not scared to use a computer any more.  The course has given me the confidence to help the grand kids.  I now know how to do email properly and add attachments.”

One of Vera’s main aims moving forward is to learn how to teach.  She has worked for 35 years as a hairdresser.  Rotunda College gave Vera the opportunity to teach a basic hairdressing course.  It was her first time teaching a group of learners.

VOLA’s Quality Manager went along to visit Vera at a lesson in Rotunda where she was teaching a group of learners how to put long hair up into a bun.  She was delighted to see an interactive and vibrant class with everyone having the opportunity to have a go with the long-haired learners doubling up as models.  Vera certainly is a natural tutor.

Rotunda is supporting Vera to become a qualified tutor.  Vera told us

“I couldn’t be more grateful to Rotunda.  I have had more opportunities opened up to me, and they slot into my daily routine with the kids.”


We have lots more positive case studies and successful learner stories on the Include-IT Mersey page, click here to see more!