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Izabela Aug 9

Meet our ex-GSCE student Izabela who now helps the homeless as an apprentice

We are throwing the spotlight on some of the inspirational stories behind our 2022/23 REACH and Construction Award winners this summer with Izabela Bogusiewicz next up.

Izabela was the winner of our Apprentice Contribution to College Life/Community REACH Award in recognition of her work at homeless charity SASH. She previously gained her Maths and English GCSE qualifications at York College during the Covid-19 pandemic, having moved over to the UK from Poland. Keep reading to learn more about her journey with us so far…

When did you move to this country from Poland and what were the circumstances that brought you to the UK?

I moved here from Poland in 2012 with my partner. Myself, my partner and my son are over here – the rest of our family are still in Poland.

How did you hear about York College?

I had passed the building many times and had always wanted to be a part of the College community, so I set myself the goal of becoming a student here on day.

I believe you got your English Language and Maths GCSEs in 2020 and 2021 during the Covid pandemic - how difficult was that and how did the College help support you through that period?

I had really good tutors in Allison (Hall) and Keith (Doyle). They helped us with the transition to online learning and they were always available to answer questions and send additional work.

They tried to do their best in the circumstances, which were the same for everyone and I feel really grateful to them, as I managed to achieve two Grade 5 results, which I was really proud of. It was a bit disappointing that I didn’t get to spend time in College, as I’d always wanted to be a student there and meet new people as well, especially on an adults course where I’d have been meeting more people my age.

It was what it was though - we couldn’t change it. We had to accept it and I’m really happy that I managed to do it with all the support and encouragement I received.

In what ways is York College a welcoming place for overseas students?

Overseas students are made to feel really welcome. Even if you can’t speak English fluently, you are made to feel part of the College community.

The College engages with all overseas students. They are not left alone with the attitude that they will be fine. Every tutor motivates you to do your best and it makes you feel special.

In what ways does York College help with balancing your family commitments?

My son is nine this year and I found the College’s approach very flexible. At times, if you are unable to arrive on time because of the school run, then that’s fine and you can also be given additional tasks to do at home when needed.

The tutors understood that I had different things going on in my life and told me that I could catch up on any work when I had the time. Family life should always come first and College understands that and supports you with it any way they can.

How much have you enjoyed your apprenticeship with the homeless charity SASH?

I have enjoyed working with professionals to implement a lot of new things. The charity has given me a lot of training to develop my talents and skills.

I’ve also met so many amazing young people who have helped me see the world in a different way. I can honestly say my apprenticeship has been one of the best experiences of my life. I feel that the charity also cares about me, my wellbeing and my private life.

What kind of things have you been doing?

I help to support SASH hosts who are ordinary people in the community that are able to offer a spare room to a young person at a time of crisis in their lives. Without our hosts, SASH could not help young people at risk with safe accommodation and support them to build a brighter future.

Unfortunately, there are so many young people in need of our services and we are constantly looking for new hosts.

What made you want to work in the homeless sector?

Homelessness is a global crisis and, in England, 271,000 people are homeless, with 129,000 of those aged between 16 and 25. SASH help that age group and it’s shocking the number of vulnerable young people who are at risk and have nowhere to call home.

It’s a basic human right to have a safe place to call home and it means so much to me to have an opportunity to make a difference to the lives of these young people.

Is it an industry you want to continue to work in?

When my apprenticeship finishes at the end of November, SASH have said they will offer me a job and I really want to stay.

Do you feel like you might also continue your studies at York College or somewhere else one day after your apprenticeship?

I really hope so. I’m looking at what might suit me that I’d be interested in and could help SASH.

Maybe I could look at something in finance after I’ve finished my apprenticeship because I can do that whilst I’m still working as a lot of the adult courses are very flexible and can be done on evenings or online.

How did it feel to win the Contribution to College Life/Community REACH Award?

It was a great honour to win the award and I really want to say a massive thank you to my tutor Stella Franks. She’s an amazing person with a great sense of humour who motivated me to achieve even more.

I would definitely say that York College has transformed my life. If I was to give a mark out of 10, then York College gets 10 from me, because it has developed me as a person, improved my language skills and given me professional skills that I will take forward with me in the future.

Thank you for sharing more details about your York College journey, Izabela. Good luck with the remainder of your apprenticeship.