Black History Month: Students discuss ways to tackle racism with black Met Police officer

Students shared their views on tackling racism with a black Metropolitan Police officer during a series of events at Capital City College Group (CCCG) to mark Black History Month.

Inspector Chris Excell, who has served the Met for 15 years, was among the guests invited to give talks to students at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL).

Insp Excell shared his experience of being a black police officer, a brief history of black police officers in Britain and his role as the Chair of the Black Police Association at the Met.

Students at CONEL also heard from Corporal Nyerere St John who spoke about being a black soldier in the British Army and gave his advice on careers in the Armed Forces.

There were also talks and presentations on black history, the slave trade, Marie Seacole, black Olympians, black footballers, black scientists and inventors, black hair and beauty, black music and the screening of a documentary on the Windrush generation.

Metropolitan Police Inspector Chris Excell, who is also a member of the Metropolitan Black Police Association (MBPA), spoke to students at The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, about his career and how former members of the MBPA have strived to carve and strengthen their place as part of the public services. ‘We are black all year round,’ said Excell. ‘Black History Month is really a time to celebrate, come together and not be the only person in the room to celebrate each other.” Find out more about courses we have that will support your future your career joining the public services by visiting www.capitalccg.ac.uk

City and Islington College (CANDI) hosted a Chat and Chillax session where students took part in a discussion about Black History Month, what it means to them, why it is important and ways to tackle racism in society.

Students also participated in workshops where they wrote positive affirmations to promote more tolerance in society on leaf-shaped pieces of paper that were then stuck to a large picture of a ‘tree of hope’ for their peers to read.

Among the uplifting messages placed on the tree were ‘Everyone is allowed to live freely’, ‘Respect each other’, ‘Love each other’ and ‘Educate ourselves and others.’

The atrium at Westminster Kingsway College’s King’s Cross Centre was adorned with flags from countries around the world to represent the diversity of its staff and students.

Students heard talks from guest speakers from BAME backgrounds including entrepreneur Tlwalola Ogunles, youth mentor Luke Malillah, actor and presenter Jordan Kensington, social mobility advocate Kevin Osei, property investor TJ Atkinson and WestKing administrator Lorna Blackman.

They were also encouraged to read books by black authors in the college’s Learning Resource Centre including Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman, Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams and Slay in Your Lane by Elizabeth Yomi Adegoke and Elizabeth Uviebinené.

There were screenings off Becoming, the documentary on life of former US First Lady Michelle Obama, and Rocks, a drama about a black teenage girl and her brother in Hackney whose mum abandons them, forcing them to try and avoid being taken into social care.

Music students also put on live performances of their own songs inspired by black music.

CCCG runs many enrichment activities across its three colleges for students personal and professional development.

Find out more about Student Life at CANDI here.

Student travelled over 4,000 miles to CANDI to pursue marketing dream

Naveena Dhera left her family in the Caribbean island of Montserrat at 16 and travelled to the UK to study a Business Level 3 Diploma at City and Islington College (CANDI). She immersed herself in many college and community activities before going on to graduate with a BSc (Hons) Marketing and  Management and studying a for an Master’s Degree.

Leaving the small Caribbean island of Montserrat aged 16 to travel over 4,000 miles to London is no small feat. But Naveena Dhera had known from a young age that if she wanted to pursue further education she would need to travel as formal education on the island stopped after GCSEs.

“I followed in the footsteps of my older sister and two cousins coming to London,” said Naveena, now 23, whose parents are from India and settled on the British Overseas Territory in the 1980s.

She enrolled on a Business Level 3 Diploma at City and Islington College (CANDI) and has gone on to graduate with a BSc (Hons) Marketing and Management from Queen Mary University of London and is now studying an MSc International Marketing with Consumer Psychology at the same university.

“It was hard to find student accommodation that would accept me at such a young age but eventually I did and the staff at the college were a great support. The biggest adjustment was the cold British weather!”

Naveena wasted no time in emerging herself fully into student life at CANDI and the Islington community including being elected to Islington Youth Council.

“A month after joining college I ran for the Islington Youth Council. The college staff and students were incredibly supportive and I was delighted when my campaign was successful and I won the election,” she said.

“I also became a course rep at CANDI and as a result of both the roles I was involved in lots of committee meetings, and travelled to different schools and colleges to discuss student issues.”

In addition to her burgeoning political career, she also took what she had learned about marketing while on her Business diploma one step further than most.

“I’ve always been interested in marketing since I studied it as part of my GCSE in Business Studies. When buying a product, I love thinking about the marketing and advertising behind it,” she said.

The more Naveena learnt about marketing the more she began to think about how she marketed herself to people, both with Islington Youth Council and later roles she ran for at university.

“At college I studied services marketing and did a lot of research about how supermarkets like Tesco and Sainsbury’s market themselves,” she said.

“I got involved in helping to market the college itself too. My face was pictured on huge marketing posters locally and every time I went to my local supermarket all the staff would recognise me as the girl on the poster. I never imagined I would become famous as a result of it!”

Naveena , who lives in Tower Hamlets, also represented students on CANDI’s Equality and Diversity Committee.

She said: “CANDI had a very diverse mix of students. In the Caribbean everyone is more focused on one background whereas at college and university it was rich in diversity, especially at Queen Mary where I got involved in learning about Hindiusm and became heavily involved in the National Hindu Students Forum.”

While studying for her BSc, Naveena ran for the student elections and was voted in as a student rep for three years in a row. During that time she campaigned to reduce fees for students.

She also became President of the Indian Society in her third year and was also on the events team for the National Hindu Students Forum (NHSF) and its marketing rep the previous year.

Naveena’s achievements earned her CANDI’s Director’s Award from CANDI. She was also one of the colleges recipients in the Jack Petchey Achievement Awards, which recognise outstanding achievements of young people across London and Essex.

Inspired by the support she’s received by peers, tutors and careers advisers, Naveena is now looking towards the next step in her journey.

“I’m really enjoying the start of my MSc and would like to work in a luxury brands company in the future, or set up my own company helping students from overseas to secure places at colleges and universities and to support their transition.”

Our Business diplomas cover all aspects of commerce and finance including marketing, which according to labour market website Statista employs 197,000 people in the UK.

Find out more and apply here.

Nurse declares CANDI’s healthcare diploma as ‘one of the best’

Angela Karuri never considered nursing as a career as a young girl.

She recalled in her late teens seeing how hard her mum worked in private healthcare and thinking “I can’t do that,” and never imagined herself in a nursing career.

A decade later Angela is about to start an MSc Specialist Community Public Health Nursing after more than two years as a Registered Nurse at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

Her master’s at City University was arranged through Tower Hamlets GP Care Group and will lead to a job as a Specialist School Nurse, while her wider plan is to work in public health policy.

Angela, 28, who lives in Tilbury, Essex, was forced to rethink her future after struggling in in her A Levels, after becoming unwell due to a chronic condition while her mum was also ill.

Back then she was more interested in sports science, which led to her enrolling on a Health and Social Care Level 3 Diploma at City and Islington College (CANDI) and gaining a Distinction.

After her diploma Angela went on to the University of Central Lancashire to study a BSc (Hons) Nutrition and Exercise Sciences where she graduated with first class honours.

“The course at CANDI is definitely one of the best out there,” said Angela.

“It gave me my confidence back after it had been knocked with A Levels. It was a chance for me to regroup and start with a clean slate. Right from the beginning I put my all into it,” said Angela.

“I had a fantastic tutor. He knew most of us were looking to go to university and would make sure we learnt how to research and set out references in our coursework. That set the tone for my degree and further learning.”

A year after graduation, Angela landed a job as an Outpatient Clerk at for Barts Health NHS Trust, which turned out to be a pivotal moment in her career.

She said: “I started to enjoy working with patients and making sure they felt safe and being that friendly face to talk to. I really liked that aspect of it. I was also looking after the children at my church’s Sunday school and thought I could combine this with nursing. It just clicked.”

Angela enrolled on a Postgraduate Diploma in Paediatric Nursing with London South Bank University in 2018 and two years later she began her career as a nurse at GOSH.

GOSH is one of the world’s leading paediatric hospitals, treating more than 69,000 children from the UK and overseas each year who are mostly referred by other hospitals for specialist care.

“Nursing gives me real sense of fulfilment and a joy. I get a lot of peace and satisfaction making sure the children are safe and well. Knowing I’ve helped them and they’re okay is the best part of the job,” said Angela.

Angela admitted it is hard not to get too attached to the children, particularly those who are terminally ill or in long-term care, when supporting them and their families.

“If there’s one thing I’ve learnt, it’s kids are very resilient. Most of the time they don’t really focus on their illness. They know that they are unwell, but they seem able to just switch off sometimes and just want to get to know you and play with you,” she said.

“On the ward I worked on, we had a lot of high dependency patients who were very unwell, but when you see them overcome surgery or recover from their illness and come out the other end, or they come back a few months later to say hi, it’s a lovely feeling.”

Angela explained that all hospital staff caring for a particular child would meet to share their feelings and support each other through difficult times including bereavement.

She said: “Initially, I tried not to get too close as a way of isolating myself from those situations. As you get more comfortable in your nursing career, you do tend to start forming relationships with these children and their parents, and when things don’t go well your team really matters.”

Angela felt most pressurised in her job during the COVID pandemic and coped with the stress by switching off after her shift, not worrying about less urgent jobs and making sure they had a life outside of work.

“There will be times when you feel the strain. Always remember the reason you decided to get into nursing in the first place. More often than not it is because you want to help people. As long as you keep that in mind, the rest will fall into place,” she said.

Angela listed kindness, staying calm under pressure, good time management and organisation, being able to delegate, teamwork, flexibility and resilience as the skills and attributes needed to be a nurse.

She admitted in retrospect she would have done a nursing degree after her Health and Social Care diploma at CANDI but has no regrets on taking a slightly longer route into her career.

“Obviously, my mind wasn’t on nursing then and I had my little detour, but it’s a good course that gives you a great foundation in healthcare and other things you might not necessarily think of, like public health policy, which you will get assignments on if you study nursing,” she said.

So, how would the young Angela react to her being a nurse?

“She would definitely be shocked. If I could have spoken to her then, I would tell her to approach things with more of an open mind and a little less fear. Back then I swore to myself I would never work in a hospital, but look at me now.”

Find out more about Health and Social Care courses and apply here.

Students get ahead of the game with esports at CONEL

Competitive computer gaming, known as esports, is one of the fastest growing sports globally. At the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) we run esports courses and an Esports Enrichment Programme at our Enfield Centre. Here, our newly appointed esports coach Finlay Stewart shares his passion for gaming and how it can help students’ education.

Tell us about your esports journey.

I graduated from university in 2015 and went straight into esports. Since then, I’ve worked many different jobs in the industry from sales executive to managing and coaching teams. I’ve worked as an esports coach for the past seven years with some of the best players and teams from around the globe and also at grassroots level. I’m very excited about our project here at CONEL.

What was your first game console and the first game you played?

I had a Nintendo Game Boy when I was around six years old. My first game was Pokémon Yellow – a classic! Soon after that I got into PlayStation and PC gaming.

What do you enjoy most about playing esports?

I enjoy the social aspect. Playing videogames is great fun on your own but even better with friends or family, especially when you’re all working together towards a goal. These days I rarely play online games on my own.

Tell us about the Esports Enrichment Programme at CONEL.

The Esports Enrichment Programme brings gamers together to play, train and have fun. At the college’s Enfield centre, students have access to 20 powerful gaming rigs and compete against gamers from other schools and colleges in the British Esports Student Champs competition each week. Games include Valorant, League of Legends, FIFA and Rocket League. For the past three years the college team, CONEL Cyphers, have been consistently placed in the top four teams in the country.

What skills can you gain playing esports that will benefit your education and career?

Playing in an esports team teaches you many things. First off, it develops your leadership and teamworking skills. It also improves your hand-eye coordination, ability to multitask and your IT, communication and problem-solving skills, to name just a few.

How do you coach someone to be a better gamer?

The way to coach people to be better gamers is the same way you would teach or coach them to do anything really. You find their current level and from there identify their strengths and weaknesses. Teach them to focus on their strengths and work on minimising where they are weak. Show them what they are doing wrong and give them additional areas to work on. The get them to watch back their mistakes and analyse them.

Is gaming still very much a male domain?

It depends on the game in question. Different games have different demographics. For example, mobile gaming is pretty much 50-50 between male and females. Console and PC games are still very male dominated, but some games like Valorant have a huge female player base.

Tell us about the esports courses available at CONEL!

CONEL offers one and two-year esports diploma courses at Level 2 and Level 3, the equivalent of three A Levels, endorsed by the British Esports Association. The courses cover streaming games, tournaments, event planning, game design, video production, coaching and entrepreneurship.

What job opportunities are out there if you become a competent gamer?

The esports industry is expanding at a huge rate and there are many different jobs and roles within the industry. On professional teams you have the pro-players, managers, analysts and coaches, but there are also backroom roles in marketing, sales, HR, merchandising, IT and media.

What do you think of the decision not to include esports in the Commonwealth Games?

It’s disappointing as it had the potential to really raise the profile of esports. I’d like to see it recognised in the Olympic or Commonwealth Games as an actual medal sport. Like any other supports it requires skill, training and commitment to be the best.

What are the side effects of too much gaming and how do you prevent them?

Too much excess of anything is never good. In gaming it can lead to back, neck and wrist problems. The other issues such as headaches are more short term and easier to fix. In general, just don’t overdo it. Take breaks, drink lots of water and eat healthily.

What is a healthy amount of time to spend gaming each week?

I wouldn’t say that there’s a hard limit to the amount of time you spend gaming as long as you are able to meet all your other commitments, get a good eight hours’ sleep, eat well and stay healthy. When it starts to take precedence over everything else, I’d say that’s when it becomes an issue.

What is your best advice on how to become a top esports player?

Play the game. Watch professional players and learn from what they do. At the end of the day, it just comes down to playing more and having the right attitude. Look at your own mistakes and don’t make excuses or blame others. And enrol at CONEL of course!

Find out more about esports courses at CONEL here.

Follow the CONEL Cyphers on Twitter @CONELesports here.

COLLEGES WEEK: Student sets up podcast after studying free short course at CONEL

Colleges Week is a celebration of students, staff and skills from 17-21 October #LoveOurColleges

A student has launched his own news and current affairs podcast after studying a free short course at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL).

Hamse Abdilahi set up the The Aliberg Podcast Show as part of his own news website The Ailberg Post after taking an Introduction to Producing Radio Broadcasting course in March.

While studying the course, Hamse secured a grant from Collins Educational Trust in Frome, Somerset, to enable him to purchase a RØDECaster Pro to record his podcast.

So far he has recorded podcasts on How COVID Has Changed Our Public Poilcy Making, My Take on Britain’s Worsening Economic Crisis and Five Lessons Learned from the End of the Elizabethan Era.

Hamse, who was lives in Southwark, previously studied for a MSc Public Policy at the University of Bristol and later an MSc Sustainable Urban Development at Oxford.

He said: “I have always had a passion for media, even though I never studied journalism at college. It has been a gradual realisation that I should have a career shift to media. The podcast show is my first step, but I hope to have greater media involvement going forward.”

Hamse, who has written numerous news and feature articles including a piece for the Times Educational Supplement on what he learnt from applying to Oxbridge, recently started a Digital Content and Creation free short course at CONEL to further develop his media skills.

“I really enjoyed the radio and podcasting course for two reasons. It was first a short course, which is what I wanted, and secondly, it was both theoretical and practical,” said Hamse.

“The college has a podcast recording studio and was where I first learned how to create a podcast using a RØDECaster Pro, and now I’ve got out of my own. I like the freedom of having my podcast at home and being able to discuss a chosen topic at any time and get my voice heard.”

CONEL offers a wide range of Free Short Courses in various subjects throughout the year with many students taking these courses going on to full-time study. Find out more and book a place here.

Find out more about Digital Media and Creative Computing courses and apply here.

COLLEGES WEEK: Media students make a positive difference in global Creative Conscience Awards

Colleges Week is a celebration of students, staff and skills from 17-21 October #LoveOurColleges

Short films by media students from Westminster Kingsway College have been named among the best animations in this year’s international Creative Conscience Awards.

Ben Dullea and Raiam Koroma were both recognised in the competition, which encourages students to use their creative talents to make a positive difference in the world.

The competition was open to individual students or teams of up to five enrolled on further and higher education courses in the UK and abroad.

Entrants were asked to come up with a project to tackle an issue of their own or one under a series of themes set by Creative Conscience – health and wellbeing, social issues, climate crisis, the natural world and education and learning.

They had to choose from 16 creative disciplines including film and photography, animation, graphic design, fashion and textiles, illustration and motion graphics.

Ben, 21, was among the winners in the animation section and was highly commended for his film highlighting the need for better mental health and wellbeing in the hospitality industry.

Raiam, 20, drew on personal experience for her film about sickle cell anaemia, a genetic condition that is particularly common among African and Caribbean people.

Several students from Korea visiting WestKing and other colleges within Capital City College Group also took part in the competition and were named among the winners.

Creative Conscience is an Islington-based not-for-profit organisation focused on using creativity and innovation to make positive change across the world.

It aims to empower, mentor and reward creative communities using their talents by running change-making workshops, training programmes, events and its annual awards.

The shortlisted projects were judged based on the entrant’s creative approach and their potential impact, by a panel of industry experts.

Ben and Raiam entered the competition while studying an Access to Higher Education Diploma in Creative and Digital Media, which they completed in the summer.

Access courses are one-year study programmes for adults who may not have the usual entry requirements to get into university or other higher education course.

Katy Milner, Lecturer in Creative Media and Digital, said: “Big congratulations to our Access Media students Ben Dullea and Raiam Koroma in this year’s Creative conscience awards.

“Ben was a winner in the animation section and was highly commended overall and Raiam also did so well to be shortlisted. Ben’s success is an even more remarkable achievement when you consider all the other winners were second and third-year university students.

“It just shows that Access students can punch well above their weight on an international stage when given the appropriate incentive, support and opportunity.”

Find out more about Access to Higher Education Diplomas and apply here.

COLLEGES WEEK: Career Ready internship with Global Generation was ‘eye-opener’ to working in the charity sector

Colleges Week is a celebration of students, staff and skills from 17-21 October #LoveOurColleges

City and Islington College (CANDI) works with Career Ready to give students fantastic work placements, mentoring and support for their future careers. A Level student Nayyan Iftikhar shares what she learnt during a four-week paid internship with youth education charity Global Generation and how it opened her eyes to the sector. Nayyan’s placement was supported by Bupa Foundation.

Determined to make the most of the opportunity

I was very nervous before my internship with Global Generation as I had no prior work experience, but I was determined to make the most of the opportunity. I enjoyed working with a range of different teams including the gardening team, accounting and finance, and the youth programme.

Learning about the charity sector

This internship was an eyeopener. Until I worked at a charity, I didn’t realise that you could make such a difference to others through your job. The best part of my internship was connecting with young people and seeing the impact the work I was doing had on them. I want to go into media production in the future and now I know that I could also work on projects that are important to me, like climate change and helping young people, by working alongside organisations in the charity sector.

A great opportunity

Internship opportunities are important because they give young people an opportunity to understand the working world and allow us think about what we might like to do in the future. To anyone thinking about joining the Career Ready programme – do it! It’s a great opportunity to network, meet and get advice from professionals, learn about the workplace and what career pathways are out there.

Each year CANDI offers a wide range of career and enrichment opportunities through organisations like Career Ready and the college’s own network of employers and connections across London.

Find out more about Student Life at CANDI here.

New students discover more about college life at Freshers Fairs

Hundreds of newly enrolled students found out more about college life and the wealth of other support available to them at Freshers Fairs across Capital City College Group (CCCG).

City and Islington College (CANDI), Westminster Kingsway College (WestKing) and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) all hosted welcome events.

CANDI held a combined fair for students enrolled at its Sixth Form College and Centre for Applied Science along with fairs its Centre for Business, Art and Technology and Centre for Lifelong Learning.

A ‘Welcome Fest’ was held at the WestKing’s King’s Cross Centre and another fair took place at the college’s Soho Centre, and Michelin-star chef Michel Roux welcomed Hospitality and Culinary Arts students to the college’s Victoria Centre.

Among the organisations attending the CANDI and WestKing fairs this year were IMECE, Papyrus, Octopus Communities. Islington Youth Council, NHS, All Change, Lift, Step into Dance, Kooth, We Speak, Brook, Go-Forward Youth, Flint & Flame, The Caterer, Koppert Cress, Compass Group, Arts Emergency and the Craft Guild of Chefs.

CONEL’s Tottenham and Enfield Centres hosted fairs, which included stands from Let’s Talk IAPT, National Citizen Service, Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, Metropolitan Police, Proud North London, Pirate.com, Reed Wellbeing, ReachOut, The Rebel School, Pure Gym and Terrence Higgins Trust.

We want to enrich our students’ lives with more than just qualifications. Our aim is to help them develop a broad range of skills and qualities that employers look for, including communication, teamwork and problem-solving, as well as ensuring they have a great time at college.

Throughout the year our colleges run a range of enrichment and extracurricular activities to give students greater insight into their studies and future careers and to support their health and wellbeing, including trips, guest speakers, sports, clubs and societies.

Students can get to know their peers through a range of student-run activities including our Student Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Learner Voice, or college clubs and societies – from football and table tennis to debating and a poetry club.

Students can volunteer to become a Student Ambassador, study buddy or a peer mentor. These important roles help our students develop their confidence and interpersonal skills and look really good on a CV, job application or university application.

Our centres have on-site canteens and cafés, serving a daily menu that includes healthy options. Canteen meals are great value for money and are a good opportunity to relax with friends between lessons. All of our centres have libraries and some have on-site gyms, so you can keep your body fit as well as your mind.

Find out more about Student Life here.

Helping Londoners into great digital and hospitality jobs

On Wednesday 21 September, Capital City College Group (CCCG) and Central District Alliance (CDA) came together to celebrate the launch of the Mayor of London Academy Hubs in the Digital and Hospitality industries. The Hubs are a key part of the Mayor’s Academy Hub programme – a £44 million initiative to support the capital’s recovery from the pandemic.

They were joined by London’s Deputy Mayor for Planning, Regeneration and Skills, Jules Pipe, and employer partners who are working with the Group and CDA to deliver the Academy Hubs’ work.

Supporting Londoners into work for the first time or into higher paid and more secure work – especially from under-represented groups such as minority ethnic communities, women and disabled people – is a key priority for London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan. The Digital and Hospitality Hubs will work with employers to train Londoners for work in those industries, helping them meet their staffing and recruitment challenges.

Having strong Digital and Hospitality sectors will be critical to London’s recovery. For example, the hospitality industry employs around 400,000 people in London, but the lack of suitable and trained staff means there are too many vacancies which is costing the sector billions in lost revenue.

CDA is the Business Improvement District for Holborn and Clerkenwell. Its footprint, which spans Holborn and Clerkenwell, is also home to a world-leading tech cluster, including household names such as Google, TikTok, Snapchat and LinkedIn. These employers – alongside hundreds of others in the CDA district and across the city – can provide a range of jobs and career opportunities for Londoners and so CCCG, working collaboratively with CDA, will establish partnerships to facilitate these new roles.

However, 210,000 people are currently unemployed in London and a further 1,080,000 adults – some 21.7% of the working age population – are economically inactive. So, the Academy Hubs’ role will be to unlock the valuable contribution that businesses can bring and enable more socially-excluded Londoners to gain employment.

As Jules Pipe explained at the event: “The inequalities that were already present in London were laid bare by the pandemic. Over 750,000 working people in London are still paid less than the London Living Wage and more than a quarter of Londoners are living in poverty once their housing costs are taken into account.

“We’re committed to using the skills funding that we have at our disposal to support Londoners – particularly the most disadvantaged and those most impacted by the pandemic – to acquire the skills they need to progress in life and get into good work.

“I’d like to congratulate all the partners for the leadership shown by the CDA and Capital City College Group for making this possible.”

Also speaking at the event, Alexander Jan, Chair of Central District Alliance (CDA) said: “We want to ensure sustainable and inclusive economic growth, which means delivering skills and employment opportunities for our communities.

“We need some big ideas and collective action, and we very much believe that connecting and encouraging people back into the labour market and to help people who are looking for work gain the skills they need to do so, is at the heart of that approach.

“We and our members are delighted to be working with Capital City College Group, to help provide long-term unemployed people with opportunities to gain good quality jobs and helping them gain the skills they need to do so.”

Westminster Kingsway College is part of Capital City College Group and already runs a wide range of courses in the hospitality and digital sectors. The Group is therefore ideally placed to support even more Londoners into these exciting industries. To illustrate the transformative effect that skills training can have, current and former students from the college also spoke at the event about their experiences.

Opeoluwa Odutayo studied Culinary Arts at Westminster Kingsway College, before setting up Ice Cream and Ting, which produces ice creams with Caribbean and African flavours, including Plantain, Hibiscus, and Avocado and Strawberry.

She said: “My teachers at Westminster Kingsway College helped me with advice and boosted my confidence. I worked at events and did internships at four different restaurants to gain experience and at the end of my course, I won the overall best student award. My mum was so proud of me!”

The college also exposes students to industries that they will be working in when they have qualified – helping them gain contacts and eventually secure good quality work.

Student in Hospitality Archie Smitton said: “Working at events with the college helps me get contacts in the industry and work out where in the industry I want to work.

“Last year I did work experience in a Peruvian restaurant in Green Park and a modern English restaurant in Soho and later this year I’m going to Lisbon for two weeks’ work experience.  I’m really looking forward to learning a different language and working in a different country.”

The Hubs have already started work – holding taster sessions and introductory courses hosted by industry experts. These have been in, for example, culinary skills, coding for women, digital marketing, cyber security and user experience (UX) design.

In addition, the Digital Hub will be running internship programmes which will come with additional support including employability training, ongoing support, advice, and guidance on getting the most out of the programme, as well as support for interns to build their network and prepare for their next steps.

And the Hospitality Hub is working with Westminster TalentServe (Westminster City Council’s new recruitment service for its hospitality and leisure businesses) to provide all the training to people who are referred to the service.

You can find out more about the Digital and Hospitality hubs and all our Mayor of London Skills Academies here.

‘I‘ve really enjoyed my years at WestKing’ – Hospitality and Culinary Arts students celebrate graduation

More than 100 Hospitality and Culinary Arts students savoured their success as they graduated from Westminster Kingsway College.

Two ceremonies were held at St Stephen’s Church near the college’s Victoria Centre in Vincent Square to honour those completing their courses and training this year.

Level 3 diploma students and apprentices received their scrolls at a ceremony led by Paul Jervis, Head of School for Hospitality and Culinary Arts, on 30 September.

Awards were also presented to the best and most improved students of the year before all the graduates marched outside the college to huge cheers and the school’s graduation tradition of banging pots and pans.

Alistair Biggins, 19, who won the Professional Chef Diploma Student of the Year, said: “I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time at WestKing. It’s been so much fun and I hope to come back one day. I owe it all to my class. We were a very tight unit and worked so well with each other. Three of us in the group got awards, which was nice to see. It’s great to be part of the school’s history.”

“My lecturers were really good. By the end of your course, they’re more like a friend. They were always looking out for our best interests and give us advice. They teach you things you won’t learn anywhere else because they have so much experience.”

Freya Smith, 19, who won Pastry Chef Diploma Student of the Year, and is now working at Miel Bakery in Camden, described her teachers as “amazing and inspiring.”

She said: “I‘ve really enjoyed my years at WestKing. I’ve always loved cooking and coming up with new flavours using different ingredients. Here, you start by learning all the basics, which allows you to be more creative in understanding the possibilities of what you can do. I’ve come a long way from where I started.”

Shanai Haynes, 19, who won Best Restaurant Service Diploma Student of the Year and is now working at Core in Notting Hill, said: “We had such a bond with our teachers. If we were stuck or struggling with an assignment, they were really helpful and supportive. They really prepared us well and gave us lots of experience for where we’re going. If it wasn’t for them, I might not have made it through the course.”

A Special Achievement Award was presented to the student who achieved above and beyond expectations during their studies, which was won by Jeremiah Youseman, 19, who studied for a Professional Chef diploma.

The ceremony also saw Stephen Carter, Michael Dutnall, David Smith, George Blogg, Julie Crocker and Guy Hilton receive Honorary Fellowships of Westminster Kingsway College.

Higher education students received their scrolls from Petrena O’Halloran, Head of Higher Education, as they were announced by Higher Education Lecturer David Bell, at a ceremony on 4 October.

David then presented awards to those students who had excelled in their studies this year.

Devin Grero graduated, Level 6, with a certificate of achievement for Outstanding Innovation in Culinary Health & Nutrition, from Westminster Kingsway College in October 2022.

Ricardo Ferreira, 43, graduated with a BA (Hons) Business and Enterprise Management and won the Institute of Hospitality Award, and is now a Chef Lecturer at WestKing.

He said: “It has been a long, challenging journey to reach this stage. There have been ups and downs, but the challenges have all been worth it. Being on the other side as a lecturer has further aided my self-development. I am thoroughly enjoying my role in helping learners achieve their potential.”

Giving the valedictorian speech, Business and Enterprise Management graduate Michelle Mori, 26, said: “Today is a day to be thankful and be inspired. It’s a day that demonstrates how much we can achieve if we don’t give up. We have received great education thanks to all our teachers who gave us the support, resources and the wake-up calls we needed to accomplish this major milestone.”

Guest speaker Professor David Foskett MBE, Chair of the International Hospitality Council and member of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and Craft Guild of Chefs, congratulated the graduates on their achievements.

Prof Foskett said: “Westminster Kingsway College is indeed a very special place and your qualification you have achieved here will change your life for the better and help you to develop your career.

“Higher education at Westminster is just as relevant today as it was in my day 50 years ago. A good, sound curriculum providing practical and cognitive skills and knowledge, giving its graduates dignity and status in the 21st century to compete for top positions in the hospitality industry.”

Commending all the graduates, Assistant Principal Terry Tinton said: “I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to all our students and apprentices on their graduation. They, and their teachers, have shown huge commitment and resilience during the most challenging period in education and for the hospitality sector. They will always be part of the WestKing family.”

Find out more about our Hospitality and Culinary Arts courses here and apprenticeships here.