ACRES, the Adult College for Rural Education in East Sussex, has moved into new offices in the grounds of Uckfield Community Technology College.
There was an official opening ceremony yesterday (Wednesday, December 17) when Hugh Hennebry, chair of the ACRES board, also principal at UCTC, cut a ribbon to mark the occasion.
There was a celebratory buffet afterwards with a cake made especially for the occasion by Danielle Lloyd, who is responsible for partnership working within the organisation.
The cake depicted the new offices and there were photographs of staff showing where in the building they were based.
The adult education offices can now be found at the former caretaker’s house on an island between UCTC and the college car park. Before that they were in the main community college building.
Eighteen members of staff will be based in the building which has been converted to offices on the ground and first floors. ACRES employs about 80 people altogether, when tutors are included.
Mr Hennebry said this was the third move for the organisation in as many years and it was good that they could now be found in an area where there was so much passing traffic, both connected with UCTC and with the all-weather pitch which was used during evenings and at weekends.
He said this would put ACRES on the map. “I can’t think anybody could fail to notice where ACRES is and what it is about.”
He thanked everybody who had put in so much effort to complete the move and said that what came across strongly when entering the building was the great team spirit.
He congratulated staff who achieved a Grade 2, Good, report for the organisation from Ofsted. All were keen to get Grade 1, Outstanding, next time around.
Two of the ACRES team, Danielle Lloyd, who is involved with partnership working as mentioned above, and Helen Stockton whose role is in programme development and marketing, spoke to UckfieldNews.com about a growing outreach service being developed by ACRES.
The organisation, working in partnership with other bodies, was trying to find pockets of population where people wouldn’t normally feel able to access adult education. That might be because they needed help with basic literacy and numeracy before entering mainstream courses. The aim was to help them by arranging classes for them.
ACRES also helped a woman who wouldn’t eat hot meals because she didn’t know how to work an oven or microwave, and another who wouldn’t walk up and down the High Street so would just go to the centre and home again. She now walked around happily and would even catch a bus when necessary. Both women’s lives were transformed by the help given.
On the other hand ACRES offers courses where successful business people can develop their skills, often in IT, perhaps by learning to build their own website.
Helen Stockton said ACRES worked closely with the community college. For example they jointly set up a bee-keeping programme in the college eco area. That could now be used for ACRES bee-keeping workshops.
Head of ACRES, adult learning manager Christine Jervis, said everybody was very pleased with the new offices. She added her thanks for the physical work involved in making the move a successful one.