Celebrating 40 years

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Southern Adult Literacy Inc manager Nellie Garthwaite (left) and community co-ordinator Averil Mawdsley.

THE Southern Adult Literacy Inc invites anyone who has had any involvement with the service to a 40th anniversary.

Tutors, students, volunteers, co-ordinators and funders, whether current or former, were welcome to attend a luncheon at the Ascot Park Hotel on Wednesday, July 4, manager Nellie Garthwaite said.

However, for catering purposes numbers needed to be confirmed by Tuesday.

“We have sent out written invites to those we know, but we don’t have addresses for everyone.

“We want as many people as possible to be a part of it.”

Although some people had already registered, Mrs Garthwaite and community co-ordinator Averil Mawdsley hoped the number would increase to between 30-40.

“We have chosen the middle of the day [to hold a luncheon] because of the time of year.”

Previously known as the Southland Adult Learning Programme, the organisation was rebranded Southern Adult Literacy in 2009.

Mrs Garthwaite said the learning service was a part of the Adult Reading and Learning Assisting Federation, a peer-assisted learning programme, and although its home base was in Invercargill, it also had branches and tutors in Western Southland, Lumsden, Alexandra, Gore and Queenstown.

Mrs Garthwaite, who had worked for the organisation for 22 years, said the best part for her was seeing “the increasing confidence in people which was amazing”.

The service aimed to provide comprehensive adult learning services which met the needs of the adults (people aged 18 and upwards) in the community who wanted basic learning assistance to achieve independence.

Up to 300 people used the service each year, she said, and for most people it was the first time they had accessed it.

“All at no cost… free,” as the service was funded 75% by Literacy Aotearoa and community funders for the remaining 25%, she said.

Mrs Mawdsley, who has worked for the organisation for 21 years, said her role was “such a rewarding job”.

“Students can be from all walks of life from managers to everyday people… there is no demographic.

“Over the 40 years, we have had a great lot of people through the programme, also thanks to our generous tutors, and have had a lot of successful students.

“Tutors have given their time… often one to two hours a week.”

It was about assisting adults with their reading, writing (including dyslexia) and maths, as well as computing classes, tutoring for learner driver licence theory, workplace literacy, and home-based learning options through one-on-one tutoring, workshops, guest speakers and facilitators.

“We supply a confidential service… it’s a personal thing… one woman didn’t even tell her husband she was coming.”

Literacy learning was about removing the stigma, Mrs Garthwaite said, and gaining confidence, comprehension, understanding and actually putting words on paper.

“It’s about literacy… reading, writing, comprehension, speaking, listening, digital literacy and numeracy.”

Previously supported by the Southland Community College, then Southland Polytec, the organisation became independent in 2000 when Zero Fees was introduced, Mrs Garthwaite said.

“We are part of Literacy Aotearoa, and there are 35 programmes like us around the country.”

For those wanting to register for the luncheon, phone Mrs Garthwaite on 03 214 5224 or 0800 778 826, or email courtyardl.c@xtra.co.nz

“We give a special thanks to the ILT for its support in holding the celebration,” Mrs Garthwaite said.

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