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European Year of Skills

Empowering Lives: Linda's Journey with the National Adult Literacy Agency in Ireland

Step into Linda's remarkable story. During the pandemic, she made a brave decision to connect with the National Adult Literacy Agency (NALA) to get better at literacy skills. 

A woman standing next to a tree.

Linda as literacy ambassador for NALA 

Thanks to NALA, Linda returned to school at the age of 37 to improve her reading and writing skills. Linda had worked as a welder, a linen maker, and in offices since leaving school before starting as a cleaner in an Irish Government Department. 

“I always loved working. I always wanted to work, from an early age I really wanted to be independent. Earn my own money. In school, I did up to the Leaving Certificate but at the same time I was working and then going to school. I missed a lot of days because I was just so tired. I did not want to be in school. I loved sports so I wanted to be outside, playing football and being out.” 

“But as I got older, I really regretted not paying attention. It is so important for young people, and I really regret it. When I was reading a book, I would not know a word - it would not make sense. In school I was afraid to read, I thought I would be laughed at. I was not sure what the words were and was not comfortable to try.” 

Linda was working as a cleaner during the COVID-19 pandemic when colleagues encouraged her to respond to a NALA advertisement on social media. She signed up for NALA's phone tutoring service. 

Linda gained confidence and improved her reading and writing skills. Following her return to education with NALA, she also enrolled in courses with her local Laois and Offaly Education and Training Board. She is now pursuing a career as a healthcare assistant. She has also become a literacy ambassador for NALA, appearing in their promotional campaigns. 

 “NALA gave me confidence. They gave me a boost through the literacy with them and the reading and writing. It made me want to go further and keep updating my skills all the time.” 

 “It feels fantastic. When you open a book, you can read a word, and it makes sense to you. Before it did not. I was nervous but I put that behind me. I put myself first and it was the best thing I ever did. I tell people that are in the same boat as me to pick up the phone and take that first step. It is the best decision they will ever make.” 

About NALA: a new eLearning website 

NALA is a charity that receives annual grants from the Irish Government through SOLAS, which is co-funded by the European Union through the European Social Fund (ESF+). This grant funds the delivery of all promotional campaigns and services for adults with unmet literacy, numeracy, and digital literacy needs. 

NALA launched its new eLearning website Learn with NALA in March 2020, giving adults with unmet literacy, numeracy, and digital literacy needs the opportunity to develop their skills and gain national qualifications through online or over-the-phone learning. The launch coincided with the COVID-19 global pandemic and the resulting surge in demand for remote and online learning opportunities.   

In response to the pandemic, NALA launched an online awareness and promotion campaign between April and June 2020 highlighting supports available including access to free online and over the phone learning through Learn with NALA, and explaining key terms relating to COVID-19 in plain language.  

 The objectives were to: 

  • Raise awareness of NALA’s distance learning opportunities; 
  • Drive calls to the free phone number to avail of phone tuition and other services; 
  • Generate sign-ups for online courses; 
  • Drive traffic to target landing pages on the website. 

The project exceeded expected results with:  

  • Over 44,000 clicks to landing pages and over 4,100,000 impressions; 
  • 300 calls to our Freephone number; 
  • 100 texts to our Free Text number; 
  • 207 leads through Facebook forms; 
  • 597 new account registrations on ‘Learn with NALA’ from independent learners; 
  • 52 new Tutoring Service registrations.