Joe Jones shares his story of how he turned his life around with the help of a HKF bursary

Joe Jones

Here at the Helena Kennedy Foundation, there is nothing better than being contacted by our previous award winners and hearing that a bursary has truly changed their life.

We recently received a letter from the winner of one of our awards in 2002. Joe Jones won the Award for Achievement in Education that year, and he got in touch to tell us about his journey in education and how the Award helped to kickstart his life.

Winning the Award meant Joe received a £1000 bursary to support his studies at the University of Glasgow. He used the money to purchase a laptop and books for his studies.

However, Joe had to battle physical and mental health difficulties whilst studying, along with dyslexia and Meares Irlen Syndrome. As a result, he was studying part-time for over a decade. Yet he remained dedicated to his education, moving to Glasgow in order to use the libraries and benefit from the professors’ expertise.

In the end, it all proved to be worth it as Joe completed a Higher Education Diploma at the University of Glasgow, assisted one-to-one by Govan-based agency, Ellis Education. Ellis Rankin (also registered with Scotland Dyslexia) supported Joe through six years of study, culminating in his Open University BA Honours degree. Joe recently achieved a 2:1 and now plans to study a Masters degree in history.

“You cannot imagine what it meant to me to be assisted in study by your Foundation and to work at such an esteemed institution,” said Joe. “This entry into formal education was only made possible by the generosity of the HKF following the initial assistance of the Plater Catholic Residential College in Oxford and Dr Hugh MacDonald, my tutor/mentor to whom I am immensely grateful.

“Nowadays I remain sober (18 years of abstinence), continue to live in Glasgow and intend to spend the last years of my study gaining a Masters, hopefully in some social or economic topic related to those whose history is rarely heard – poorer people, the disenfranchised – for their experiences are rarely visited, much less told. Eventually, it’s my aim to start a charity to assist the homeless in a very practical way.

“As I endeavour to move to my next challenge, in the postgraduate world, I will be forever grateful to the grant I was given, the one award which ‘kick-started’ my life and my sobriety. I thank you so much for this gift and simply need you to know how much it meant to one man.”

Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws commented, “I am absolutely thrilled that the bursary made a lifechanging difference for Joe. I am in awe of his spirit and resilience. Despite facing hardship, he has used education as a means to transform his life.”

Are you part of the HKF Alumni? Would you like to get in touch and tell us what your life has been like since receiving your Award? You can contact Shahida by email or on 0121 644 2406.