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University of Warwick Centre in Coventry City Centre

Originally published 3 April 2003


Did you know that the University has a presence in Coventry city centre? The University of Warwick’s Hillfields Centre, run and funded by the Centre for Lifelong Learning, has been working with the local community in Coventry for ten years.

Paddy O’Mahoney, the centre’s manager, is keen to stress the valuable service that the Centre provides not only to the local community but also to the University. “The Centre has an excellent reputation in Coventry and a good relationship with local government services as well as the community. On top of all that we also have a valuable city-centre location with some free office space.”

Several Warwick academics have taken the opportunity to use both the physical facility and the Centre’s links with the local community.

Dr Mike Neary, Department of Sociology, ran a two-year long project from the Centre. The project, run in partnership with the West Midlands Probation Service, was designed to allow young offenders on probation orders and Sociology students to work together on developing educational initiatives.

Dr Neary said, “ The project was a chance for the University to make another contact with the City of Coventry. In 1992, the University opened an educational resource centre in the Hillfields Estate. This largely forgotten outpost was the centre of our operations and where we did the majority of our work every Friday afternoon.”

The Hillfields Centre was created to offer pre-access courses to individuals from the local community who didn’t hold academic qualifications or who lacked the confidence or basic training to take access courses.

Initially the uptake was mainly from women, but with the increasing availability of childcare facilities and the provision of pre-access courses at local colleges the demand dropped.

With the recent arrival of refugees and asylum-seekers into Coventry the most popular course now is English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). In fact the uptake has been so great and the learning so fast that the Centre is now putting on advanced courses. The Centre works closely with both Coventry Adult Education and the local refugee centre.

Other services provided by the Hillfields Centre include a legal clinic on employment issues run by WATCH, a local community employment and training resource, and until recently an Asylum Seeker Legal Workshop run by a branch of local solicitors, as well as mainstream lessons in subjects such as Drugs Awareness, Spanish and Counselling Skills.

For more information on the Hillfields Centre see http://www.hillfields.org.uk/Facts/warwick_univ_hillfields_centre.htm or speak to Centre Manager Paddy O'Mahoney on 024 7655 9903

For more information on the Centre for Lifelong Learning see http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/conted/ or speak to the Centre Administrator Michelle Archer on Ext. 23835