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Meet our Cover Star – Krupa

In early 2023 an image of Krupa Maisuria, a Learning Support Assistant (LSA) with our Better Mental Health courses, was chosen to be on the cover of our 2023/24 Brochure. In this Q&A, Krupa talks about what it’s like to work as an LSA, and what it’s like to see yourself on 1000’s of brochures, posters, and banners county-wide!

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What courses do you support on, and what are they all about?

Hello! I’m Krupa and I’m part of a team of Adult Learning Support Assistants that support the ‘Learning for Better Mental Health and Wellbeing’ courses, that are run in GoLearn! centres around Leicestershire and online. These courses provide adults from all walks of life with education, skills and sign posting that could benefit their day-to-day mental health and wellbeing, as a tool to help them manage their experience, get back to education or employment or simply connect with others who may be having similar experiences. These courses are non-accredited, which means that the learners have no scary qualification to work to, but rather a relaxed and open-minded space to gain new skills.

We talk about topics such as mindfulness, resilience, social interactions, and neuro plasticity. Our learning spaces provide a dedicated educational atmosphere, rather than a medical one, so they are an opportunity for learners to take independence in their wellbeing through the course content.

Any adult is welcome to our courses! You don’t need to have a diagnosis; you don’t need to “prove” your place and you don’t need to wait until others in your life approve of this support. If you want to join a warm and accepting space of discussion and growth, come and join us!

What was your first thought when you were asked to be our 2023/24 cover star?

Oh, it was quite unexpected! Funny story – I just happened to pose so we could get a nice range of photos, but never expected it to actually be used, let alone for the cover!
I actually found out through a colleague who had shared it with me, and my first reaction? An honest answer? Well…I laughed hysterically for a solid thirty minutes! Not because the photo was bad, but again, I just wasn’t expecting it. I saw it after my workday, and it was just…a surprise!

After my long giggle…I felt a real sense of warmth in my heart. This was because I realised that I was representing my ethnicity, gender identity and age, and that made me really happy. In my experience, I have witnessed the effects within my community where mental health and wellbeing is deeply neglected, seen as a taboo subject and even a weakness in character. In my role as an Adult Learning Support Assistant, however, I am consciously endeavouring to move away from these limitations and lead by a small example. No matter what social identity you may have, you are allowed to prioritise your mental health and wellbeing as much as anyone else.

I am proud to do something that may help another individual out there with similar or identical limitations in their own life, to come forward and be an example for others too.

What’s it like seeing your face on brochures across the county?

So, there are two answers to this. At first…it’s terrifying! I’m thinking, ‘She’s everywhere! What’s happening?!’. Then secondly, once I’ve calmed down…I feel grateful. This opportunity came within only a few months into my role at Leicestershire County Council and it really helped me feel part of the wider team. I really value the way that LCC confidently stand strongly for the wellbeing of staff and service users. It makes me happy that I’ve been a part of a bold and influential project and that it’s message is spreading widely around the county I love.

I have had friends send me repeated photos of the posters in different learning centres and I most definitely had a mini fright when I saw my face on a huge banner outside Wigston Library, whilst on an innocent shop to Lidl! Other than that, it’s a big thumbs up to me. I’m thrilled to do my bit!

Have you had anyone recognised you in public?

So thankfully, not directly so far. But going back to the huge banner outside Wigston Library again – a walk down Bell Street is just not the same anymore… in a good way! I grew up in this area and was a regular book worm at Wigston Library, so it’s quite humbling to see life have it’s mini adventures like this! I am willing to do bold things if the message is proudly communicated. I am here to support this incredible initiative in our learning centres as my job, as well as publicly on an unexpected banner! It’s great!

How did you come to be an LSA?

Well, I was initially working in primary education and had to take a break from work due to my caring role for elderly grandparents. When their care was more balanced and managed, I was ready to try something new! I saw this incredible post at LALS and was deeply inspired to get back in the classroom, but this time, with a whole new audience. With my life experiences and as well as my caring role, I knew the value of taking opportunities for the benefit of our wellbeing, so to imagine being a part of that for my work was so exciting! It fit well with my values, aspirations, and vision for my life, and soon enough, I was ready to support learners in our GoLearn! learning centres. Adult education has been a new and refreshing step in my career which I know will continue to offer me invaluable skills and joy. Education doesn’t stop when you leave school, college, or university… it’s there for any individual at any time, and I’m thrilled to be a part of this!

What’s your favourite part of the job?

There are many perks to my job, but I would say number one would be seeing our learners grow in confidence in their lives. There’s no better feeling than when a learner is excited to share something new they’ve achieved, seeing them confidently express their respectful opinion and experience with other learners and leave on the tenth week with a sense of community. It’s what makes every session so valuable and special.

What’s your least-favourite part of the job?

Oh gosh…I’m happy to say that this is a hard question! I wouldn’t say it’s something I don’t like about my role, but seeing learners enter our sessions for the first time, often alone and carrying a lot of anxiety, is a stage of the course I try to move through gently. I think about how much courage and bravery it may have taken for them to attend, what thoughts they may have had in their mind leading up to the session and what worries they may be carrying as the teaching is happen. I try my best, alongside the course tutor, to make space for all the learners to feel whatever they are feeling, and slowly find their valuable space amongst the other learners.

How do you support learners in class?

My main role in the session is to identify the individual needs that learners may have and require support for. This could be providing coloured overlays for someone who experiences dyslexia, scribing for learners who may need support in reading and writing or simply helping a learner experiencing social anxiety to express their views in the discussion. My support can be practical or within conversation and varying according to each learner and their needs on the day. My role is to help the learner retain the course content during the session and help them implement it in their daily lives. This is done via an Individual Learning Plan that we complete together in the first couple weeks, which provides the learner a vision for their learning journey. All in all, I am there to help bridge the gap between any lack of inclusivity in the learning spaces.

What’s your favourite topic covered on the course?

Wow, another hard question! I think our courses provide a wonderful range of topics of discussion, but I would say the Mindfulness session is probably my favourite. Mindfulness is a huge part my own wellbeing practice and it feels good to see learners take part in different methods of mindfulness that anyone can take into their daily lives. It’s practical, simple, and interactive and it’s wonderful to see how learners decide to implement it as each week goes.

What’s your favourite memory of being on the course?

I hold one very special memory of recent in my heart! One learner came into the first week, very nervous and shaky, but by the last week they said, “I usually struggle to talk about things, but here, I feel safe.”

It brought a real glow to my heart seeing this learner so confident in our learning centres and it made my job and our team extra valuable to me.

What do you think it takes to be a good LSA?

I’m still learning from all my colleagues what it takes to be a good LSA as they have a lot more experience than me, but from what I’ve learnt in practice is that that empathy is essential for this role. We need to be open minded to all learner needs and situations and be ready to work to their level. Empathy allows to make a learner feel safe to enter the session on Week 1, feel eager to continue attending as each week goes and allow themselves to celebrate their achievements on Week 10. It also gives them the confidence to take their learning beyond this course into their daily lives, new opportunities and maybe even another GoLearn course!

If you are interested in a career as a Learning Support Assistant but aren’t sure where to start, our Learning and Work Advisors can provide you with confidential 1:1 Information, Advice and Guidance on your next steps. More details on our Better Mental Health courses is available on our website. 

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