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Inspired by the family’s excellent social worker, Kelly enrolled on the Access to Social Work

"Now I’m older, I really appreciate the value of education"

23 May 2018

"I’ve progressed from my first week on the course when I cried saying ‘I can’t do this!’ to my last assignment for which I got a distinction. I never thought I’d get back into education, but I just wanted to do something that would make a difference."

46-year-old Kelly Hibbin from Dagenham left school in 1988 with very few GCSEs. She went straight into work at 16 and worked for a shipping company. After that she worked for the building firm Dewhurst’s, studying her AAT to become an accountant there. Then, after starting a family 20 years ago, she started working in Marks & Spencer’s as a shelf stacker.

In 2011 a bombshell fell when her eldest daughter, who was 13 at the time (she has two daughters who are 11 months apart in age), could not move when she woke up one morning; it transpired that both her daughters suffered acutely from a condition called joint hypermobility syndrome. Many difficult years followed with non-stop hospital appointments for both her daughters and lots of stressful times.

Now her daughters are 19 and 20 years old and are doing very well. Her younger daughter is doing a Business Administration Apprenticeship with the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and studies one day a week at Barking & Dagenham College.

Inspired by the family’s excellent social worker that helped Kelly and her daughters a lot through the difficult times, Kelly enrolled on the Access to Social Work course at Barking & Dagenham College. In a happy coincidence, mother and daughter are both studying here.

Kelly is due to finish her Access course this summer and is doing really well. She explains:

I’ve progressed from my first week on the course when I cried saying ‘I can’t do this!’ to my last assignment for which I got a distinction. I never thought I’d get back into education, but I just wanted to do something that would make a difference. The excellent social worker who helped us to access things and integrate the children into normal life really inspired me.

She organised things such as giving the girls the opportunity to go on an excellent camp arranged by Over The Wall, a charity that provides residential summer camps for children and their families coping with serious illnesses and conditions. They had an entire medical team there so children could be given any treatment that they required and just have a normal kind of experience. We have brilliant memories of the camp and I’m so appreciative of the work that the social worker did. It’s really inspired me to go in to social work.

Kelly is now heading to UEL to study towards a BA (Hons) in Social Work. She is really excited and, despite the fact she will be 50 years old when she finishes her degree, is really happy with her decision to go back to study. 

Education is wasted on the young - well at least in my case it was! When I was at school I just couldn’t be bothered, whereas now I’m older, I really appreciate the value of education. I’ve really enjoyed my time at college. The teachers are so supportive, I can’t praise them enough!

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