Cutting it will not reduce costs
MANY of your readers will have read with astonishment and horror of the Green Party's amendment to wind up the City Council's Adult Learning Service to save £200,000 in the budget proposals for 2013-14 (Green Party is wrong about cuts, The Post, February 14).
The ALS has been a major success story in Bristol for the past five decades and countless thousands of our citizens have and still benefit from this provider of leisure and personal development courses in the city.
The benefits to the community of Bristol as a whole from this valuable service are greatly in excess of the financial cost of providing this service.
Adult learning is important, even when it is not linked to qualifications. Face to face learning experiences, taught in classrooms provide something far more important.
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They provide enjoyment, companionship, fulfilment, social integration and much more than a superficial grasp of a subject via the internet.
Many health workers in Bristol have found the ALS invaluable in guiding many people suffering from depression, disability, bereavement for example to take up new interests.
Constructive activity is vital for the well-being of these people to use mental faculties to encourage physical well-being.
Courses help many who live alone to become motivated to learn and socialise with local and similar-ages people.
Learning internet and email skills, have opened up a new lease of life for many to keep in touch with their families and friends around the world and once again become part of their lives. Courses in art, crafts, languages, music, cookery and well-being are always popular and equally important for people to retrain and get new jobs later in their career.
If we aspire to be an ambitious city of culture where learning is valued, an inclusive city which caters for the needs of all age groups, then we must find the modest funding needed by the ALS to continue.
Cutting this service from the budget will not actually reduce the council's costs except in the very short term.
The departments at City Hall concerned social services, safety, mental and physical health, unemployment will surely and steadily incur increasing costs that will far outweigh any savings.
We need to find a permanent home for this service within the council organisation, where it will be valued and appreciated, not, as it has been in recent years, the lowest priority in a department, always vulnerable at budget time.
The right policy for the next few years should be to expand the Adult Learning Service, to encourage more learners to take more courses, to increase the range and location of courses across the city and to see the social benefits.
If Bristol did not have a service like this, the council would be hiring consultants to provide reports on improving community cohesion, social & racial integration etc, they would probably recommend, after charging thousands of pounds that the council should create a service like the Adult Learning Service.