This week to celebrate Adult Learner Week across Newcastle College, we caught up with NUFC’s Lead Under-18s coach and adult student Neil Winskill, to learn why he chose to take advantage of our free courses and return to Newcastle College. Here he tells us what inspired him and why lifelong learning is so important.

Tell us a bit about yourself:

My name is Neil Winskill and I’m the Lead Coach for the Under 18s at Newcastle United Football Club. I have also just returned to Newcastle College to study a Level 2 Counselling course, something that is currently offered free to adults over 19.

Why did you decide to study Counselling?

The older I get, the more I realise there are plenty of things that I don’t know! In my job I deal with people every single day. Just because they’re footballers, they still have real lives and their own issues. Part of being a coach, in any sport, is being a counsellor for your players. I’ve had plenty of experience over the years of that, but I realised that there was a knowledge gap and in the short amount of time I’ve been on this course I’ve learned lots and found out new things that will really help me in my day job.

What would you say has been one of the best things about returning to College?

I think sometimes in your job and in life you live in your own little bubble, so it has been so lovely to attend college and meet new people.  Especially the nature of a Counselling course, it’s great to hear everyone’s stories and just broaden your horizons.

What would your advice be to anyone who might be worried about returning to college as an adult?

It’s good to get comfortable with being uncomfortable! It’s all about getting out of your comfort zone and embracing new challenges and opportunities that come your way as this is when I find most learning takes place.

This is the third time I’ve come back to college – I returned at 18, at 29 and again now at 43. I think learning new things throughout my life has always stood me in good stead over the years. Ultimately, gaining new skills and connections is what opens up employment and other opportunities, so I would always recommend lifelong learning.