On the 27th of November, the AEGAI launched a booklet of Client stories ‘Every Step of the Way’, 10 stories of positive change in the lives of clients who used the adult guidance services nationwide. As well as the very individual and unique lives captured in the booklet, the role that the adult guidance services played in supporting individuals when pursuing educational change is highlighted.
The launch opened with an address by AEGAI Chairperson Catherine Greene, with the tone set by the famous rousing Marianne Williamson/Nelson Mandela quote, which tells us
‘…We are all meant to shine, as children do … And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same’.
A captivated audience heard the heart-warming stories of two clients featured in the booklet, who have most definitely allowed their own light to shine for everyone to see. They shared generously, telling of the different circumstances which led these inspirational women to seek out the services of a Guidance Counsellor. For Olive, it was on facing redundancy and for Judit, it was the search to find a sustainable career to support herself and her young son. Despite the differences in their respective journeys, what they did share – as with all our clients – was the stirring of hope and the smallest spark of belief within that they might be able to achieve something great. This is where the skill set and support of the guidance services came to play, fanning that spark into a flame, helping them to see and believe in themselves and providing the practical information and support to achieve their potential.
AEGAI were delighted to welcome Fiona Maloney of ETBI as a speaker as well as Senator Lynn Ruane and Minister John Halligan. All affirmed the importance of the work of the Adult Guidance Services, especially in supporting those who are trying to find a route to education, training towards the world of work. Senator Ruane, who on the same day won the award for ‘non-fiction book of the year’ at the Irish Book Awards, spoke about the difference that hearing others’ stories can make. She spoke about how those in disadvantaged areas face far more complex barriers to participation in education and work and how important it is to allow people to choose what they want to do rather than imposing a particular pathway on them. She emphasised the role of guidance in supporting people to be self-advocates rather than being told by others what the ‘truth’ is. Minister Halligan put to words what all of us who work in Guidance innately feel, that ‘No matter how difficult times are for a person, there is somebody there who can help and guide you .. Every Step of the Way.’
Senator Ruane, in her book ‘People like Me’ (pg.84), sums up success: “Success is about learning to love yourself, realising your worth and value and striving for something better than your current situation”. The 10 inspirational individuals featured in ‘Every Step of the Way’ have all achieved this definition of success, the success that we aspire to for all of our clients when we facilitate them to make meaningful and informed education, training, employment and life choices. We hope that our model of guidance will continue to be valued and to be expanded so that many more adults in Ireland can be supported to change their lives for the better.