Bantry’s learning resource helps many to take first steps towards a better life

October 9th, 2020 9:50 PM

By Emma Connolly

Jason Wycherley, acting manager at the National Learning Centre in Bantry.

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With World Mental Health Day taking place on October 10th, one West Cork organisation is keen to show the public that there are many and varied supports available right here


TO coincide with World Mental Health Day, a Bantry organisation is highlighting its bespoke courses and services designed to promote inclusivity and a better quality of life.

The National Learning Network (NLN) provides free courses to a range of people, including those who have mental health challenges, or have a learning disability and need extra supports.

World Mental Health Day takes place on October 10th, and the local Wellbeing Network is also hosting a wellness festival which continues until October 14th.

Jason Wycherley of NLN wants to use both occasions to put the spotlight on its unique services which are offered in a safe and supportive space.

Among them are courses in office administration and horticulture, but Jason stresses that all the courses, supports and training are ultimately designed to meet the needs of the service users.

They can range from helping someone to apply for a driving test, to assisting someone to go out for coffee, to finding a work placement for someone, all depending on the individual’s needs.

‘What we do is all about giving people a better quality of life, promoting inclusivity, and in lots of cases, that is geared towards helping people get a job,’ he said.

The NLN has close links with Cork ETB and currently has 56 students participating in Bantry, with others on an outreach programme in Clonakilty.

All courses are free, and participants can maintain financial benefits while completing them, explained Jason.  A free bus also travels to and from Bandon to Bantry daily, which helps make the services more accessible.

‘We work with people from all walks of life and ultimately we want the best for all of them. Lots of people we help are those who would find studying in mainstream education too difficult.

‘They might have issues with reading and writing and we can provide a one-to-one tutor where it’s all about learning at their own pace,’ said Jason.

They also work with people who have acquired brain injury, people with invisible disabilities including autism, those who struggle with anxiety, people who are referred from mental health services, along with others who come to them straight from school.

Where needed, they have psychologists who can work with people and can also source additional training elsewhere when needed, as well as organising suitable work experience.

Due to Covid-19, the NLN is currently running a blended learning model with on-site and at-home tuition and will help provide and fund the necessary computer equipment for remote learning where needed.

Jason added: ‘West Cork is very lucky to have strong mental health supports available.

‘Basically we want to shine a light on the options that are out there and encourage people to take those first steps forward and come to see us.’

Places on courses at Bantry NLN are now available. See for more.

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