Do you know someone who wants to learn English like Hasan?

Photo of HasanHasan, a published author and originally from Bulgaria, is currently studying Functional Skills English for English For Speakers of Other Languages with Aspire Sussex. We recently asked him a few questions about why he had chosen to do this course and his experience so far.

“I have always been interested in languages, I like learning about the life and culture of the people I live with. Once in the UK, I decided to improve my English because this is important to my integration. In the first years, I worked hard and strived to have a maximum adaptation to life and work conditions. In the year 2018 when I was surfing on the internet, I found the Aspire Sussex website. I understood that the organization offers more and various courses and decided to apply for an English course. I see now that it has been the right decision.
I emailed and the answer of the Aspire administrator was kind and helpful. I applied and passed my entry assessment. After it, I have explained that I need a course that will give me more practical skills in my life and a better realization of the labour market. The assessor well understood my needs. Aspire Sussex offered me a course ‘Functional Skills English’.

My goal with Aspire is to improve my language skills. In general, I think that language learning is not an easy process. It takes time but the course allows me step by step to climb up to my goal. Even more, I upgrade my knowledge about the country and its culture. I am trying to make my things in English based also on the new knowledge I am receiving with each lesson. This is my attempt for transferring my skills. It is not easy and is a relatively slow process for now. My background in the UK is also important for the process of improving my skills. I am a member of Bognor Regis Local History Society and The English Place-Name Society they represent my main fields of interest. My language education at Aspire gives me support and additional motivation to be involved in social activities.

I have been impressed that the lessons are not routine, on the contrary, they are living with much fun. The presented knowledge is with practical usage. Although the course is in the evenings and a working person is tired, I feel excited. I often have opportunities to discuss interesting topics that give me knowledge but also energy to run away from the routine of everyday life. The most important factor for all described above is my tutor with her experience, specific approaches, patience, good organizing skills, and helpful always. I am improving my language skills at Aspire although not so faster I wish. As well as, I started to practice my new knowledge in the fields of my interests.

‘Functional Skills English’ is a course that covers the famous sentence “Non scholae sed vitae discimus” it gives knowledge for Life that all of us need.”

Self-Care Tips

Do you ever forget to take care of yourself?
Finding the time to take proper care of yourself can be hard, but it’s so important to make sure you are taking care of your body, mind and soul every day to avoid exhaustion and that dreaded mental fog.

If you don’t want to make big changes in your life, why not try implementing some of these small self-care activities that don’t take up much of your time but could take a huge weight off your shoulders.

> Scratch off that lurker on your to-do list, we all have one and it’s been on your list for weeks.
> Take another route to work. Mixing up your routine in small ways creates new neural pathways in the brain to keep it healthy.
> Be selfish. Do one thing today just because it makes you happy.
> Do a mini-declutter. Recycle three things from your wardrobe that you don’t love or regularly wear.
> Unplug for an hour. Switch everything to airplane mode and free yourself from the constant pings of social media and email.
> Get down and boogie. Put on your favourite upbeat music and have a dance party.
> Get fifteen minutes of sun, especially if you’re in a cold climate.
> Take a quick nap. Ten to twenty minutes can reduce your sleep debt and leave you ready for action.
> Check in with your emotions. Sit quietly and just name without judgement what you’re feeling.
> Have a self-date. Spend an hour alone doing something that nourishes you (reading, your hobby, visiting a museum or gallery, etc.)
> Take a home spa. Have a long bath or shower, sit around in your bathrobe, and read magazines.
> Write out your thoughts. Go for fifteen minutes on anything bothering you. Then let it go as you burn or bin the paper.

Tips For Working From Home

If you are used to life in the office and are currently struggling with working from home, we’ve gathered a few little tips to make things easier.

1. Create a work space
Although it can be tempting to stay in bed or head straight for the sofa it’s best to set up a dedicated workspace, this will help you maintain good posture, avoid distractions and let you leave work at the end of the day. If you don’t have a desk, use your dining room table.

2. Stick with your routine
It can be far too easy to roll out of bed in the morning and log straight onto your computer but it’s important to keep to your usual daily routine. Wake up at your normal time, shower and get dressed into something other than your pajamas. These steps will help you mentally prepare for the work day ahead.
To maintain a good work-life balance, remember to switch of your computer and tidy away any papers at the end of your working day.

3. Don’t forget to move about
It’s good to have a routine when you’re working from home, but work shouldn’t become monotonous. It’s important to take regular screen breaks and get up from your desk and move around just as you would in an office.
While you might not miss your daily commute to and from the office, it does guarantee that you leave the house at least once during the day.
So get your shoes on, get outside and enjoy that fresh air for your hour of exercise. A different perspective will also help undo mental blocks and give you a fresh pair of eyes for any tasks you’re struggling with.

4. Stay connected with your colleagues
When you’re at work, you likely to talk to a variety of colleagues throughout the day but when you’re working from home, you could go the whole day without speaking to anyone which can be isolating. Make some time to pick up the phone, or start a video call, and have a real conversation rather than relying on emails.

Keep Your Mind Busy

If you’re bored and are looking for activities to fill your day and keep your mind busy, take a look at the ideas below. Got more ideas? Share them on our social media pages.

Learn something new
> We’re currently exploring how many of our courses can be offered online so we hope to see you in our virtual classes very soon! Keep an eye out for an email or social media post announcing this new provision. We plan to start something after Easter. In the meantime, why not take a look at our current range of online and distance learning options. To see these courses visit our Distance Learning page.

Stay Connected
> Make plans to video chat with the people you’d normally see in person, if video isn’t your style communicate through phone calls, instant messages or texts.
> You could write letters and find yourself a penpal. There is a whole host of people you could write to nursing homes, prisons, hospitals, armed forces and individuals abroad. If this interests you, you can do a Google Search for Penpals and find the one that suits you.

Plant some flowers
> Bringing nature into your everyday life can benefit both your mental and physical well being by improving your mood, reducing feelings of stress and anger and making you feel more relaxed.
> If you are able to buy seeds, flowers or plants online for delivery why not introduce some welcome colour to your house or garden and plant some flowers. With the sun starting to emerge, it is the perfect time to get out in the garden and watch your flowers bloom.

Get crafty and creative
> Let your creative juice flow. Start your own arts and crafts challenge, from sketching and mindful colouring to pottery, knitting or embroidery. Stuck for ideas? 64 Million Artists have some great suggestions to get you started.
> How many pictures do you have stored on your phone or computer? Turn those treasured memories into a photo album or scrapbook. You can either print your photos off at home to create your photo album from scratch or there are many online services that will let you create a wonderful photo album/scrap book for a fee.
> Up-cycling is a great way to bring new life to your old pieces of furniture. A lick of paint, maybe some new upholstery, a dash of wallpaper and your pieces could look completely different.

Switch up your entertainment
> Although libraries are closed for the time being, some libraries have apps that you can use online. These allow you to borrow eBooks, audio books or magazines from home for free if you are a library member. You can also pay to download books via iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Kindle and more. Find a service that suits you and you could read thousands of books ranging from biographies and cookbooks to magazines and best-seller books that have recently been released.
> How many films and TV shows have you missed that you you’ve been dying to catching up on. Now is your chance, if you want more of a range than is offered on the TV there are several subscription services you can sign up to that will offered you a whole host of films and TV shows, many of which offer a free trial before you get start paying.
> If you want to get your eyes off of a screen, why not tackle a tricky jigsaw puzzle or put your brain to the test with crosswords, Sudoku, word search and more.
> If you live with several people, gather together and play board games. There are hundreds of board games from the classic Monopoly to more unique games like ‘Escape Room In A Box’.

Clean and declutter
> Dedicate some of your time and attention to declutter your home. Search through your home for items that are broken and damaged, that don’t fit you anymore or simply just don’t work for your current style. This is a great way of finding old favourites that might have been stashed away and makes organisation a breeze once you’re done.

Maintaining A Healthy Diet

Maintaining a healthy diet can be difficult in times of stress, we’ve collected a few handy tips to try and help make it a little bit easier.

Make set meal times and stick to them
With many of us spending our days at home it can be too easy to let structure slide. But sticking to this is important to maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding eating those unnecessary snacks.

Keep healthy snacks around
Keeping healthy and nutritious snacks nearby will ensure you don’t head straight to the Easter Chocolate. We love these snacks combinations: nuts and dried fruit, hummus and carrots and cheese and apple.

Plan your meals in advance
It’s easy to run out of inspiration for what to prepare when all your meals are being eaten at home. Try to plan out a couple of days’ worth of meals, if you can plan for the whole week even better. This will help you to figure out what you need and don’t already have at home, thus preventing waste and saving you money.

If you do need inspiration there is a fantastic array of recipes on the BBC Food website.

Use up your fresh ingredients first
You don’t want any food to go to waste, so use up perishable ingredients before foods with a longer shelf life.

Take advantage of your freezer
Reduce food waste by freezing leftovers. Big, one pot dishes such as chilli, curry and stews freeze particularly well and are a great recipes to pack full of vegetables, helping you reach your 5 a day. For breakfast you can make smoothies with a selection of frozen fruit such as berries and bananas.

Don’t forget, we have a fantastic range of cookery and cake decorating classes, keep and eye on our website and social media pages for updates when these are back up and running.

Missing Your Exercise?

With fitness classes cancelled and gyms closed, you might be missing your regular routine but that doesn’t mean you need to skip your exercise altogether.

Current government guidelines means we can leave the house for one form of exercise a day whether this is running, walking or cycling – alone or with members of your household. For some this isn’t enough, but there are plenty of exercises you can do within the confines of your home that can be both fun and rewarding. Before you decide which forms of exercise to undertake, please consider any advice and support you have already received from your GP or health experts.

If your home has stairs, walking up and down them is a brilliant form of exercise, you can supplement this with using rice packets to add some resistance to your arm movement. Another option is to create your own Yoga routine. Yoga is an ancient form of exercise that focuses on strength, flexibility and breathing to boost physical and mental wellbeing. There is a wealth of resources on Google and YouTube to help you create your own routines. If you’re not interested in yoga, how about Pilates or Tai Chi?

It is also important to remember to do some workstation exercises to help reduce any aches and pains caused by working from home. Where possible, stand up during some of your tasks and stretch regularly.
Why not take a look at this video, posted on Facebook by The Perrymount Clinic showing you how to do a few simple exercises that you can do sitting down to stretch you back and neck.

Don’t forget, there are home tasks that are considered activity:
> Gardening – the stretching and reaching that takes place while you are gardening can help you tremendously.
> Ironing – believe it or not, the side to side movement done during ironing is very beneficial to us. It allows the muscles on the sides of your legs and back to work, more than they would do in your day to day activities.

If you’re looking for more information take a look at these resources:
NHS sitting exerciseshttps://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/sitting-exercises/
NHS gym-free workoutshttps://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/gym-free-workouts/
Sport England how to stay active during coronavirus restrictionshttps://www.sportengland.org/news/how-stay-physically-active-during-coronavirus-restrictions

Keep an eye out on our website and social media pages for updates on when our fitness courses are back up and running.

Aspire Sussex Current Situation: 26th March 2020

Message from Robyn Kohler Chief Executive of Aspire Sussex

Dear Students, 

I would like to thank you all for your continued support and understanding during this difficult time.

In the last week there has been a tremendous amount of additional work carried out by staff at Aspire Sussex to inform you of changes brought about by the Government to deal with the national Covid 19 emergency. We have also been working to get staff equipped to work from home as quickly as possible, to keep them safe in line with the Government guidelines. 

In terms of your learning, we will keep you informed of our progress to make learning available to you at home online. We are also working on our brochure and planning courses for the next academic year.

We are continuously keeping appraised of Government announcements, and will update our website with any new developments.

Please look out for regular updates on the website and social media, and please do observe safety and distancing recommendations – we want you to be fit and ready for when we are able to resume!

Once again, thank you. Keep safe,
Best wishes

Robyn 

Refunds and courses after Easter
We are currently processing refunds for courses cancelled in March 2020. This may take us a bit longer than normal due to staff working from home. At present we haven’t cancelled courses that start after Easter but should they be cancelled we will make refunds available at that point. Some courses may be able to run online and we will keep you updated about this.

Communication with Aspire Sussex
We closed our centres this week and now have staff working from home so please do not send anything to us by post for the time being, we will still be picking up calls on the 0345 601 0161 number or emails addressed to enquiries@aspiresussex.org.uk 

Brochure
We expect not to be publishing a hard copy of our Autumn brochure for circulation this June as is normally the case due to the restrictions currently in place in the venues where our brochure can be picked up. We will be creating an online version so please keep an eye on our website and social media for announcements or subscribe to our monthly learner bulletin to hear updates about the next programme launch. 
Click here to sign up to our Learner Bulletin

Online learning options
Over the next few weeks we will be exploring how many of our courses can be offered online so we hope to see you in our virtual classes very soon! Keep an eye out for an email or for social media posts announcing this new provision. We hope to start something after Easter. In the meantime have a browse of some of our current online and distance learning options! https://www.aspiresussex.org.uk/distance-learning-courses/

Qualification courses
We are currently awaiting information and guidance from the Department for Education and Ofqual as to how students working towards qualifications will be supported during this time. We will inform our students as soon as this becomes available.
 
Aspire Sussex are planning to offer continuing learning online for the remainder of 2019/20 during the summer term and will be in contact with students as soon as possible.

Thank you
Thank you again for the kind messages we received when you were told we had to close our face to face provision and we were overwhelmed by the generosity of those able to donate their refund to help us keep going at this time. We really appreciate the loyalty and kindness of our students.

Mothers Day 2020

This Mother’s Day we wanted to share with you this fantastic case study of Sue, who last year was gifted our Drawing For Beginners course in Chichester by her family.

“I didn’t have artist experience before taking the course and I feel I have learned a lot. My favourite part was learning how to draw at home and seeing a difference as the lessons progressed.

I will hopefully carry on as I can get out and stretch my artistic skills.

Most importantly, it has given me back my identity, from being a wife, mother, grandma and I need that at this time in my life.

For any other new learners, I would say go for it!”


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Although we have suspended face to face courses until further notice we still have a variety of distance learning courses: See the full list here

Aspire Sussex Current Situation: 19th March 2020

We want to share with you Aspire Sussex’s latest position on the Coronavirus outbreak. Thank you for being patient while we have been closely assessing the Government’s latest guidance.

As of 5pm Friday 20th March 2020, we are suspending all face to face Adult Education provision until further notice. Adult Education Centres will be closed to the public.

This will be disappointing for all concerned, but the health and safety of our students and staff is our first priority. We are seeking ways to deliver your learning online and hope to be able to announce these options in the coming weeks. Our current distance and online learning provision will continue https://www.aspiresussex.org.uk/distance-learning-courses/

We will provide you with further communication about refunds/credit notes for cancelled sessions in due course.

We know the next few weeks and months may be a worrying time for us all. Thank you again, for your patience and understanding. We will continue to keep in touch as the situation changes.

Lastly, we would ask that if you have questions at this time, then please email rather than phone: enquiries@aspiresussex.org.uk. Please be advised that understandably we are experiencing a higher email volume than usual at present and are doing our best to get through these as quickly as possible. Please bear with us and we will keep you updated.

Further information about COVID-19 is available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/coronavirus-covid-19-uk-government-response

Library Wellbeing Month 2020

We are working with West Sussex Libraries for the Library Wellbeing Month to provide a selection of FREE 45 minute sessions to help improve your wellbeing.

All the sessions listed below taking place in libraries are free to everyone and those in other venues are only £6.00! If you are on a certain means tested benefits or have an income below £16,009 per year, you are entitled to a free place on all these courses! If you have any questions, please call us on 0345 601 0161 or email us at enquiries@aspiresussex.org.uk.

Although the courses are free you do still need to enrol by clicking on the links below or calling us on 0345 601 0161.

Chair Yoga at Haywards Heath Library
FREE for all
Monday 9th March, 12:30pm – 1:30pm
Please note that this course is in the public space of the library.

Yoga with a Chair at Lancing Football Club
FREE for those on certain means tested benefits and low wage learners, £5.40 for over 65s, £6.00 otherwise
Monday 16th March, 10:00am – 11:00am

Chair Yoga at Horsham Library
FREE for all
Friday 20th March, 1:00pm – 2:00pm

Positive Wellbeing at Shoreham Library
FREE for all
Monday 23rd March, 11:00am – 12:30pm

Yoga: Mixed Ability at The Shoreham Centre
FREE for those on certain means tested benefits and low wage learners, £5.40 for over 65s, £6.00 otherwise
Tuesday 24th March, 1:00pm – 2:00pm

Yoga with a Chair at Shoreham Library
FREE for all
Tuesday 24th March, 2:15pm – 3:00pm

Yoga with a Chair at Bognor Regis Library
FREE for all
Friday 27th March, 11:00am – 12:30pm

Positive Wellbeing at Crawley Library
FREE for all
Friday 27th March, 11:00am – 12:30pm

Yoga for Beginners Taster at Lancing Football Club
FREE for those on certain means tested benefits and low wage learners, £5.40 for over 65s, £6.00 otherwise
Monday 30th March, 10:00am – 11:00am

Positive Wellbeing at Bognor Regis Library
FREE for all
Monday 30th March, 11:00am – 12:30pm