Students’ music show brings festive cheer and presents to disadvantaged children

Big-hearted students put on a music concert to raise funds and donated presents to bring some festive cheer to disadvantaged children this Christmas.

Students at the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) organised the show to support The TOY Project and encouraged staff and students to donate toys.

The TOY Project recycles unwanted toys for children in the UK, India, Africa and the Caribbean, and also runs Lego, art and storytelling workshops.

The Islington-based charity was co-founded by Angela Malloch, the wife of former Neighbours star and 1980s pop icon Jason Donovan who is the charity’s patron.

Most of the songs were performed by students completing Music Performance and Production Diplomas at Level 1 and Level 2 at the college’s Tottenham Centre.

Silvia Bortolotti, 25, opened the concert with a cover of Amy Winehouse’s hit Valerie.

Lheyla Esono Engo, 18, and Emil Vasilev, 20, sang a duet of James Smith’s Tell Me That You Love Me, and Sarah Delobette, 19, performed Jess Glynne’s cover of seasonal soul classic This Christmas.

There was also a DJ set by Ramon Pazos, 47, a poem read by Hairdressing student Blessing Anyaegbunam, 28, and a performance by guest singer Maalik Robinson.

There were also performances by Isabel Palma Gomes, 17, and Cathleen Farrell, 38, which included the Christmas carol O Holy Night.

Cathleen said: “Children all around the world are directly affected by social and economic issues and circumstances that bring about poverty. Sadly, many experience a Christmas each year without the gifts and toys that bring us all joy in the festive season.

“We hope that by putting on this concert and making donations to The TOY Project many of them will have a happier Christmas.”

The concert’s finale featured all the singers performing Puerto Rican singer José Feliciano’s 1970 festive hit Feliz Navidad.

The TOY Project helps children in schools, nurseries, hospitals and hospices, those in care or with complex needs, migrants and refugees as well as homeless and other underprivileged families.

Jane Garfield, who founded the charity with Angela in 2013, said: “Thank you to everyone who took part in this fabulous concert raising funds and donating toys to those most in need this Christmas.

“After such difficult times more families than ever are struggling to provide for their children, and being able to give toys to the children lifts the worry and stress over the festive period.

“We are so grateful to have been part of your celebration of music and wish everyone a very merry Christmas.”

Sharon Wallace, Curriculum Manager for Creative Media and Music, said: “It was wonderful seeing and hearing our talented students perform for such a good cause to make Christmas that extra bit special for so many children.”

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Thousands take first step towards future careers as enrolment begins at CANDI

More than 5,000 people have signed up to study courses at City and Islington College (CANDI) during the first week of enrolment.

The college offers a wide range of A Level and vocational courses at its centres in Angel, Camden Road and Finsbury Park, which are free up to Level 2 regardless of age or income.

CANDI is offering A Levels at its Sixth Form Hub in Enfield for the first time this year.

The college also runs English, Maths and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses, higher education qualifications and free short courses.

Tania Lafayette, 42, has enrolled on a Childcare and Education (Early Years Workforce Educator) Level 3 Diploma having completed Childcare courses at Level 1 and 2 at CANDI’s sister college Westminster Kingsway.

The mum of four, who works part-time at a playcentre in Camden, hopes to become a teaching assistant and eventually work with children with special educational needs.

She said: “I love interacting with children. It makes me feel happy and seeing their progress is amazing. I’ve already learnt a lot. The teachers are very supportive and make you feel very motivated. Every day there is something new to learn. This course is a big opportunity for my future.”

Polly at enrolment

Polly Dennish Ross, 18, is to study an Art and Design: Fashion and Textiles Level 3 Foundation Diploma to boost her portfolio for university after finishing her A Levels at CANDI this year.

She said: “I’ve always loved clothes and pretty things. I want to go into a very tactile field and don’t want to be stuck behind a desk. I was very curious from a young age and that made me very creative.

“Vivienne Westwood has always been one of my main inspirations. She’s so subversive but still very feminine and I like how she puts history into her garments. Her vision is incredible and she has made such a huge impact on the fashion industry.

“I’m excited by the amount of experimentation there is on the course and being able to find my own style.”

Mohammad Isharq Bakshi, 19, will be studying a Health and Social Care Level 3 Diploma having completed Levels 1 and 2 at Westminster Kingsway.

He said: “I want to become a nurse. I used to look after my grandad when he had a heart problem, which made me realise how much I want to help people. I get a lot of satisfaction from caring for others.”

Joe at enrolment

Joe Lamb, 16, who enrolled on an Art and Design Level 3 Diploma, said: “My dad’s a professional artist, so I guess it’s in my blood. I took part in a competition at school in Year Seven. I did a massive portrait of Usain Bolt and won. My teachers though I really had a talent and felt I could really take off in this subject and I carried it on at GCSE.

“I think the course will challenge me and show me what I’m capable of. I’ve had a chat with the teachers. They showed me around the department and I was really impressed. I feel welcomed already.”

You too could be among the students enrolling at CANDI this summer and gaining new skills and knowledge to enhance your career and education prospects.

Enrol at CANDI today to start a course this September.

Students praised for ‘dedication and perseverance’ as 75% gain top grades in A Level results

Students at City and Islington College (CANDI) celebrated as they overcame the challenges of the COVID pandemic to achieve a fantastic set of A Level results.

CANDI saw 23.2 per cent of students attain A*-A grades and 75 per cent gain A* C grades, with many going on to leading Russell Group universities or degree apprenticeships.

Students did not sit exams this year due to COVID-19 with their grades being determined by teachers’ assessment of their actual evidence-based ability rather than predicted grades.

Among this year’s top performers was Lily Burge-Thomas, 18, who achieved four A*s in Art: Critical and Contextual Studies, Fine Art, Photography and her Extended Project Qualification. She is going to study Architecture at Cambridge University where her mum studied Classics.

Lily said: “I’m totally ecstatic. Honestly, after these difficult two years it feels like all the hard work has paid off, and I’m really excited to be going to Cambridge and continuing my educational journey.

“My teachers have been amazing and really supportive. I came from a school where they really pushed you very hard to CANDI where you had to push yourself and be a lot more self-driven. I don’t know if it was the tough love of my old school or the kindness and support at CANDI but I got the results.”

Eman Ahamed, 18, attained A*s in Maths and Further Maths and an A Computer Science after being rejected by several other colleges. He is going to study Mathematical Computerisation at UCL.

He said: “I’m really grateful to CANDI because they treated me as an individual and not as a just a statistic. From the moment they gave me a chance, I knew I had to take it, it was my turn I had to show my best.”  

Muhsin Mahmud, 18, gained three As in Politics, Media Studies and English Literature and Language and is heading to City, University of London to study Journalism.

He said: “I had a difficult time during COVID with some of my family members seriously ill and in hospital. My teachers were exceptional and it was a privilege to be taken under their wing. The assurances I received from them during that period of deep uncertainty really helped me through it.”

A Level results day also saw the release of results for vocational qualifications.

CANDI runs many vocational courses including Accounting, Animal Care, Art and Design, Beauty Therapy, Business, Childcare, Computing, Digital Media, Engineering, Fashion, Hairdressing, Health and Social Care, Music, Performing Arts, Public Services and Science.

Freddie Cook, 18, achieved a triple Distinction in his Public Services diploma and is going to the University of Greenwich to study Criminology with Criminal Justice.

He said: “I am looking to work in border security but also considering teaching public services after the positive experience I‘ve had at CANDI. I went through some tough times while studying and my teachers really helped give me the support I needed. For me, CANDI was like a second family.”

CANDI also offers English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) courses, Access to Higher Education Diplomas, higher education study and free short courses.

All ESOL courses and vocational courses up to Level 2 are free.

CANDI is part of Capital City College Group (CCCG), which also comprises Westminster Kingsway College and the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London, and apprenticeship and training provide Capital City College Training.

This year CANDI launched a new hub offering A Levels at CONEL’s Enfield Centre and is taking applications now for the first cohort to start in September.

Kurt Hintz, Executive Principal of CCCG, said: “We are very proud of the great results of our students after such a disrupted and difficult two-year period. Our students have shown huge amounts of dedication, perseverance and resilience in adversity, which has prepared them well for their future university education and careers.

“We congratulate all of our students on their results and wish them well in their next steps. We would also like to give special thanks to our teachers and support staff who worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to secure the life chances of their students.”

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Praises CONEL’s Success at Getting People Into Jobs

The College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London (CONEL) has been praised by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions for its success at fast-tracking people into work.

The Rt Hon Thérèse Coffey MP gave her support when she visited the college’s Tottenham Centre to mark the first anniversary of the Plan for Jobs, a multi-billion pound Government investment to help millions of people in Britain find new employment and gain new skills.

The Plan for Jobs included boosting the number of Sector-based Work Academy Programmes (SWAPs), which help jobseekers claiming either Universal Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance or Employment and Support Allowance.

Last year nearly 65,000 people were supported to switch careers through a SWAP, with 80,000 places made available this financial year. Since September 2020 nearly 2,000 people have enrolled on a SWAP with CONEL, the majority looking for careers in construction, healthcare, warehousing, security, events and the civil service. SWAPs last up to six weeks and comprise employability and work skills training at a college, followed by work experience with an employer and a guaranteed job interview.

A sample survey of those who completed their SWAP at CONEL found 95 per cent had been for at least one job interview, 80 per cent were now employed and three quarters had found a job within three months of completing their programme.

During her visit, the minister met students currently undertaking a SWAP with Graham Construction, which also included an introduction to brickwork, CSCS card and health and safety training and a paid work placement. A CSCS card proves that the holder has the appropriate training and qualifications for the job they do on a construction site.

She said: “I am really impressed with the relationship CONEL has with its students, employers and the Department for Work and Pensions in delivering SWAPs. To hear that 80 per cent of people on these programmes get a job is amazing and really good news for this part of London. The college is clearly very well set up and committed to helping people of all ages get new skills to fast-track them into employment. The kit is here, the enthusiasm is here and people are learning very quickly and getting into work, so all credit to CONEL.”

According to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, the unemployment rate in London was at 6.5 per cent – the highest in the UK – in the three months to April. Around 485,000 people are currently claiming unemployment benefits in London with Haringey recording one of the highest claimant rates in the capital at 11.4 per cent.

Adelina Lourenco secured a job as a Document Control Manager with global civil engineering company Sixense in March, a few weeks after completing a SWAP.

She said: “I was working for Skanska and my contract came to an end as the first COVID lockdown started. I found it hard to get a job and it was a worrying time. The pandemic meant the future was very uncertain and I didn’t know if the situation was ever going to change. I started at the college in November. It helped me improve my CV and build up my confidence. I was able to speak to people while on placement and get their tips and advice, which I would not have otherwise had the opportunity to have done.

“When I got a job, it was such a relief. I was happy to be back working in the construction industry because it’s what I know and love. I’m so pleased to be getting my career back on track.”

Glopet Iziduh gained a job as a Project Planner with engineering company Dornan two months after enrolling on a SWAP in November.

She said: “I’ve always had a desire to work within construction or engineering, so I embarked on a career change by completing an MSc in Project and infrastructure Management, but then COVID happened. People were losing jobs and I did not have much experience in the construction industry.

“I did a short course to get my CSCS card and with the help of the college and Women into Construction I gained a placement with Multiplex who referred me to Dornan. After a series of interviews, I was offered a role with Dornan, which has been fantastic.”

CONEL works with 20 job centres across nine London boroughs to run SWAPs at sites in Tottenham, Enfield, Islington, Canning Town and Barking. Students are referred by Jobcentre Plus and continue to receive their benefits during their training. They can also receive help to cover travel costs to get to college and placements and childcare.

Shiv Emmimath, Head of Employability and Trade Union Education, said: “At CONEL we’re committed to supporting people in our community to get the skills and support they need to get into work. SWAPs are a fantastic way to help improve people’s job prospects and for employers to find new workers with each programme aligned to actual job vacancies.

“Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve been helping people from a wide variety of backgrounds who have been looking for a career change or have lost their jobs due to COVID, many of whom have now gone on to gain full employment. Through the SWAPs, we are boosting people’s employability skills, introducing them to employers in their chosen sector and giving them the motivation to succeed in getting a job.”

Engineering students discover more at construction site with Dickensian past

Engineering students at CANDI discovered more about groundworks and archaeology being undertaken at a construction site in central London.

Thirteen students visited the Middlesex Hospital Annexe site in Cleveland Street, Camden, which is being redeveloped by the University College London Hospital Charity.

The Grade II-listed building is a former workhouse dating back to the late 18th Century, one of only three remaining in London, with the remains of a former cemetery at the rear.

Charles Dickens lived in Cleveland Street as a child and later as a teenager, and it is thought the workhouse may have been the inspiration for Oliver Twist.

Morgan Sindall Construction and Ark Build PLC are converting the building and constructing a new block on the cemetery site to create a mix of healthcare, commercial and residential properties including social housing.

Archaeologists from Iceni Projects and L-P: Archaeology have uncovered extensive structural remains of the former workhouse and its inhabitants buried in the cemetery.

Morgan Sindall Construction is currently preparing the site and overseeing the safe excavation of around 1,000 burials before work commences on the new development.

Paul Harris, Site Manager for Morgan Sindall Construction, and Stephen McLeod, Senior Archaeologist at Iceni Projects, showed the students around the site.

They explained why an archaeological excavation had to be done before any construction started and the considerations that needed to be made when working on the site.

The students learnt some of technical language used in the industry and saw the temporary works in place as well as some of the ground preparation and piling being undertaken.

They then had the opportunity to ask them questions about the work and their careers.

Engineering students 1

Engineering student Joni Salillari, 18, from Haringey, said: “I’ve been on building sites before, but never one with skeletal remains. It gave me a deeper insight into the field and how there is much more to it than just putting up a building, and how they have to look at the history behind a site before they start any work.

“Trips like this are really important because they’re very interactive and can teach you things you might not learn in the classroom.”

Another student, Nikolas Vasilev, 17, from Haringey, said: “It was interesting to see how many different people work on a building site, like archaeologists to prepare the site and remove the remains. That was something that had never crossed my mind.

“We got to hear what they do on a day-to-day basis, which is really useful to know. It gives you a taste of what you are getting into, or if you’re unsure it gets you thinking about different aspects and the types of jobs you might want to do.”

The Middlesex Hospital Annexe was built in the 1770s as Covent Garden Workhouse to provide food and shelter for impoverished parishioners of St Paul’s Church.

It later became the Strand Union Workhouse and the Central London Sick Asylum before being acquired by the hospital and falling under the NHS.

The building was closed to the public and was vacated in 2005.

Chi-Chi Akutu, Work Placement Officer at CANDI, said: “This was a fantastic opportunity for our students to see first-hand the ground works and archaeology being undertaken at an actual construction site and find out more from experts in their field.

“Paul and Stephen shared their wealth of knowledge and experience on all aspects of preparing sites for development, project management, health and safety, environmental issue and logistics management. They also revealed how they started on their jobs and what career pathways there are in archaeology, construction and engineering.”

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English Literature Student wins Coveted Writing Prize

A City and Islington English Literature student has scooped the Orwell Youth Prize for her ‘powerful’ and ‘well-balanced’ article on knife crime.

Jessica Tunks, 17, who is studying A Levels at City and Islington College, drew on her own personal experience and shared her thoughts on knife crime in her winning piece called Knifepoint. She was one of seven winners, chosen from 1,200 written compositions by young writers from across the UK, who took part in the competition run by The Orwell Foundation.

Jessica, from Walthamstow, east London, said: “I’m studying Orwell’s novel 1984 in my English Literature course. I’m really honoured to have been one of the winners of a prize in his name. I never expected this to happen, so I’m glad I chose to take the chance and enter. 

 “The issue I wrote about is really important to me and I’m glad that my thoughts on it will get a wider audience. I’m really grateful to have had the opportunity to write the piece in the first place, especially considering all the support I had with my writing.”

Read Jessica’s winning article Knifepoint and more about her inspiration for it here.

Jessica attended a Writing Wrongs Project, a series of workshops run over four weeks to help students prepare for the Orwell Youth Prize, where they were asked to submit an article.

She was chosen as the winner by investigative reporter Rebecca Omonira-Oyekanmi for her article Pencils, Parties and Prison Sentences, focusing on young offenders, school expulsions and prisons.

The seven winning entries in the Orwell Youth Prize included short stories, journalistic essays and poetry, and were judged by writer Kerry Hudson and poet Kayo Chingonyi – read about the competition here

On Jessica’s entry, Kayo said: “This is a well-balanced piece written with emotion, structure, and backed by research which includes speaking to those directly affected by the themes under discussion. There is an overall sense of someone writing with an affinity for what they write about which lends the piece a moral authority that, coupled with the technical assurance evidenced across the piece as a whole, made Knifepoint stand out.”

The article was also praised by Rachel Sylvester, a political columnist for The Times, who helped shortlist the entries.

She said: “This is such a powerful piece about knife crime, written from personal experience. The author describes brilliantly the problems in the system and vividly sets out how early trauma can lead to the behaviour that triggers exclusion.”

The Orwell Youth Prize is a political writing competition for 12-18s and aims to give young people an opportunity to discuss and communicate their own ideas and thoughts on society today, and stems from George Orwell’s own political motivation for writing.

Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy also commended Jessica’s article, and said: “To write with such passion about knife crime and its impact is to be a voice that makes a difference; someone who isn’t beaten by injustice but is using their platform to call for us all to address it. In doing so, this essay embodies the relationship Orwell described so powerfully between independence of mind and changing the world.”

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