Pendle primary school pals who learned their profession at Nelson and Colne College now working on NHS frontline

Two primary school friends from Pendle who later studied together at Nelson and Colne College are now working at the frontline of the NHS during the coronavirus pandemic.

Jasmin Wilson and Ellie Smith, both 21, studied Health and Social Work Professions at Nelson and Colne College between 2015 and 2017, before progressing on to the University of Leeds to take up places on the same Adult Nursing degree course.

Now Jasmin, from Barnoldswick, and Ellie, from Colne, find themselves together again during a year out of their studies to build up experience, and are working as Clinical Support Workers on Covid-19 wards at Leeds General Infirmary.

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Although they went their separate ways for secondary school, with Jasmin going to West Craven High School and Ellie to Park High School, the pair say that their enduring friendship and passion for Health and Social Care is mirrored by camaraderie, support and teamwork that is on show on a daily basis between health professional colleagues at the hospital.

Ellie Smith and Jasmin Wilson

Jasmin said: “I began my year of work on a stroke rehabilitation ward, but like the ward Ellie is on, I am also caring for Covid-19 patients at the moment too. My colleagues are brilliant, and while it is challenging work, it is very fulfilling.

“I’ve wanted to be a nurse ever since my mum was seriously ill a few years ago, and seeing the level of care she received during that period really inspired me to go down the nursing career pathway.

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“The Health and Social Work Professions course at College was fantastic, and my tutors are very knowledgeable. The course is practical which I liked, and through it I was also part of the NHS Health Cadets. This provided me with the confidence, insight and experience I needed before progressing on to university.”

Ellie added: “The ward I’m on is normally a colorectal ward, but the patients we are currently treating are Covid-19 positive. It’s a challenging time, but I work with a great team of colleagues who support each other and we have adapted well to the situation.

“I’ve also wanted to work in nursing from a young age, and there is no better feeling than witnessing a patient progressively improve back to full health. I find it incredibly rewarding and I wouldn’t change my job for the world.

“I definitely chose the right option of Health and Social Work Professions at Nelson and Colne College. The course is excellent, and the practical nature of it combined with the work placements I did meant I had quite a lot of experience up to a certain level by the time I progressed to university.

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“This was advantageous because the foundation of knowledge and experience I had built up meant I wasn’t overwhelmed when I started a course at a higher level.”

Amanda Boyer, curriculum leader for Health and Social Work professions at Nelson and Colne College, said: “I’m exceptionally proud of the work that Jasmin and Ellie are carrying out on the frontline of the NHS, and I know we have many other former students who are in similar career pathways working in hospitals at the forefront of the Covid-19 challenge.

“Neither Jasmin nor Ellie could have foreseen that they could have been working in this unique scenario when they began their respective years out of study. However, Health and Social Care is a sector requiring a high degree of skill which they both have in abundance, and they have demonstrated real adaptability too in order to meet the challenges they are facing.”

Vocational students studying at Nelson and Colne College enjoy the benefit of career-aligned study programmes, excellent industry links and fantastic work placement and extracurricular opportunities.

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Nelson and Colne College is the number one FE college in the country for A Level progress, and places first and third nationally for GCSE Mathematics and English progress.

The college is also number one in Lancashire for 16-18 Advanced Apprenticeship timely achievement, and is number one in the country for student satisfaction.