Adult Learners.

Up Your Street promotes free activities for seniors around The Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Seniors ranging from 60 to 85 years young received their personalised Adult Learners’ Award certificates today having been nominated by Up Your Street.image 4D TAOimage 4D TAOThree of the Award winners

 The awards went to seniors who alerted by Up Your Street enrolled on and completed digital photography and walking courses in Bethnal Green, learnt about community theatre with Open Stage 2012 in Stratford east, currently follow the ‘Visual art and Appreciation’ pre-degree course at Birkbeck University and so much more. Credit where it’s due.

Congratulations to one and all!

Getting nowhere by degrees

Three weeks ago, I found a degree course I fancied at the University of east London but at the Docklands site. I emailed the tutor in charge and asked about applying as a mature student. I was checking out enrolling onto a university degree in September 2012, late in the day  and was joining in and competing with the younsters trying for places through UCAS clearing and adjustment. They had had guidance from teachers and college advisors. I was alone.

I went along to the Birkbeck open evening in Stratford Old Town Hall E15 last week Thursday. Birkbeck is actually terribly Bloomsbury but has affiliations with UEL ( University of East London) Stratford,  and Rosetta Arts which is in West Ham but under a Stratford address. In the daytime I’d checked out the ambience of UEL’s Stratford campus but hardly felt I’d fit in there and none of that site’s degree subjects appealed to me. Well, you have to feel good if you’re doing a three year stint.

At the Birkbeck evening the trickle of visitors all received  goody bags and reminders about how Birkbeck is the only evening degree university in London. Whoop. I met the arts lot and the finance staff. The student support staff had not appeared so I couldn’t ask searching questions about the application forms. Neither did the staff advising potential students with disabilities turn up. Not impressed.

I was told I could still apply via UCAS clearing to find a place and then fill in the finance forms online. All would be good. What I didn’t know and wasn’t told was that Clearing finished the next day. Live and learn.

The next day I decided to go up to Bloomsbury and see the Birkbeck sites and get a feel about the places. All I got into were converted houses. No-one checked security. I went into the University College, London and saw what I saw: Milling international students having their inductions. I went back to the Malet Street site of Birkbeck, checked out the café on the top floor, gawped at more international new students, played on the lifts and came away none the wiser but excited that I’d seen RADA from the top windows.

Indoors and desperate, I trawled the internet for a degree course to suit me. There it was , a 2 year foundation degree in art in Camden managed by Middlesex University. I will say at this point that The Telegraph or Observer league tables give me no confidence in any of the universities I chose and I chose them because they professed on their web sites to have vacant places for 2012. I double-checked this gem of a degree in a college I’d never heard of, found out the name of the senior lecturer and went along to enrol. There were many grandmothers in hijabs signing up for ESOL courses and a couple of younger people going for maths and literacy. I waited my turn until the harassed CSA called me forward. My planet stalled.”The course isn’t going ahead”. “But it’s up on the website and there, it’s on the board in front of reception.” “It’s only recently come off. There’s a similar course ” and she went on to promote a Saturday five week course clearly not a degree course. I was fuming. The website was blatently lying to me. CSA knew nothing else. I explored the café area and had a sniff around to see why the whole building had warranted inclusion in the Open House Weekend. Even the advertisement about the 1905 building having its doors open to the public for free for Open House Weekend was incorrect with stupid dates on the institute’s website.

After a Big Mac in Dalston I emailed the senior tutor and asked to be seen. The next day I met her (she was late) and  there was no apology about the rubbish website listings but a   predictable offer of a lower diploma place offered with indifference. Not me, mate.

Evening was coming down  and I decided to go to the Docklands and view the University of East London. It was an evening out and very far away by any journey from north London and expensive too. Actually the journey was enjoyable. From the Woolwich bound DLR cab I saw  West Ham Station, Rosetta Arts, Star Lane and closed UDAC. From Canning Town DLR station, I saw the cable cars and low-flying aeroplanes. The University is there right there on Cyprus Station. What a magnificent sight! Too far away. There’s a stink of flight fuel,and the roar of City Airport planes. But there’s water and sunsets.

To date I never had an answer from the lecturer to whom I’d sent an email but the CSA there is good old-fashioned helpful and assured me there were places. Too far away. Imagine getting up in the winter for the 9 am lecture and travelling 2 hours. I am mature, remember.

Not to let any ships pass in the night I emailed the lecturer in charge of a degree course at SOAS. Why not? At least she replied and sent on my personal statement to her honourable colleague.

Finally I got around to applying for finance. If I don’t eat or keep warm for three years I’ll be okay.

What’s to do? Up Your Street bulletin

Booking required now , or expression of interest
 The People’s Museum 306 High St E15 just by Stratford Station. 4 events
Mon 10th September, 2pm – Talk about living in the East End.
Mon 17th September, 6.30pm – Neil Fraser (Author, “Over the Border”).
Mon 1st October, 4pm – Talk about the Coloured Men’s Institute & Kamal Chunchie.
Wed 17th October, 6.30pm – Regeneration Debate.
All free Email claire@ech.org.uk
There is a nice cooking course re healthy living (Be interesting with the soaring cost of veg and fruit. Ah, sugar rules again)
5 weeks free in Hackney (Manor Gardens)  starting Wed 12th Sept 2pm -5pm Email siobhan@manorgardenscentre.org
£2.50 per session (I negotiated for this half price for OAPs!) HedgeHerbs 5 weeks  at 2 .30pm at The Mill E17 on Saturdays from 22nd Sept. Email hedgeherbs@gmail.com
 Radio course concentrating on healthy living for seniors on Tuesdays at 10.30 to 1.30pm free for 10 weeks starting Sept 25th. Waltham Forest College. Email who you are and why you want to join the course to info@ageukwalthamforest.org.uk
 Rosetta Arts and Birkbeck Uni art appreciation course.Free Prof.Lesley Topp. 6th Sept. 11am initial talk. Email to express interest
 East End Family History Society’s walk on Oct 7th meeting at Liverpool Street Station (exit 2 at 10am). Free. “Churches of Shoreditch”. Book with the society.
and same day last chance. Free. 4pm an art installation and drama at Poplar Business Centre E14 by Dennis Mcnulty. Book through Eventbrite
                                            

The art centre in Stratford’s backyard.

Certificate in HE in Understanding Visual Arts.

Birkbeck Uni and Rosetta Art Centre in Stratford run an art appreciation course for non- certificated adults who have never been to University which is more along the lines of how to communicate appreciation of art works effectively by becoming confident with texts, IT, seminars and opinions. The essays are all processed and sent up to be marked using the internet. There are loans available and bursaries to help the poor and underpriveleged with their travel and child care expenses so in one way I never expected to meet other seniors.

Rosetta Art Centre is actually housed in Gainsborough Primary School, a Victorian school in a big low level council-housing estste . The 276 bus which starts its journey in Stokey goes there or there’s West Ham tube station.

I was shocked. I thought the Centre was state of the art, not up 4 flights of steps to a narrow corridor on top. Come and see the toilet sink! Old as yer like. With scalloped dips for the soap bars before pump action came into fashion!

A handful of folk turned up for the introductory session about the one year course which springs the successful achiever into the second year of the B.A Arts and Humanities degree or Arts and Media foundation course at Birkbeck. Birkbeck has a new campus coming up in Stratford,E15 otherwise it’s a trek up to Bloomsbury. Couldn’t be much more different in flavour, could it?

What’s appealing is the field trips; out to V&A, Bishopsgate Institute, Whitechapel Art Gallery and the like, not forgetting Tate Modern. Whilst I was attending the introductory session (where no tea was served by the way!) then I was missing out on my special invite to the Whitechapel Gallery for photos done by locals with a tour thrown in. Once a month one can join in a lottery application for a free tour of galleries around Spitalfields. Luck of the draw though.

Back to West Ham, there’s help on hand for the dyslexic, public computer accessibilty in Stratford (Library? Oh, that market-place!)  and UEL along Romford Road. You don’t have to be a Newham resident nor clever as to me it looks like all the encouragement and support will make sure you pass. Wonder if in your second year you meet u3A chapesses. Seems up their street.

I had entered a piece of work for a display at Rosetta Art Gallery. I heard nothing in response. Not bovvered. Now I’ve seen the place……Years ago I refused to go to The Rio Cinema in Dalston because it was a flea pit allegedly and advertised as a venue for the working class. Why would I have to go to dirt? “Me be poor, me be poor, but me no be crazy”

The Rosetta Art Centre was established because of the desire to uplift a community around it which rarely engages with the visual arts. On tap is the captive audience of primary school children who get the opportunity to appreciate all forms of art-funded art projects which is good. Somehow like playing piped Mozart as children tag-tail into assembly. So why wouldn’t the borough with all its Olympic dosh or the government build a proper art venue or we are happy to have a corridor? Not me.

I will find it difficult to promote the course to so many seniors because of the IT element and the fear of they being means-tested. The course is right up my street in its ethos. I needed to know about disability access too.

I was up Essex Road in Leyton  because it is one of the only local places which has a Post Office with free parking outside.  Not any more. Wow! Overnight the linespeople had restricted us and after May 31st it gets worse as the area comes under Olympic non-parking areas. Many will benefit from this and majorly Whipps Cross Hospital  just a walk away with its exhorbitant parking fees.