I can do things now that I would never have imagined before. As a busy mum, I thought I’d struggle, but I’ve found I can sit down and put my mind to things. It’s really changed my life.

The Fastrack programme is both the hardest and the most amazing thing I’ve ever done.

I’m a 50-year-old mum with a disability, who hadn’t been in education for a long time, so there were a lot of barriers in my head to doing the degree I needed to get the career I really wanted. Volunteering for Prison Fellowship, a charity that supports people in prisons across the North West, gave me a passion for victim awareness and restorative justice, but with no suitable qualifications, I didn’t know how to move forward. A friend of mine had done the Fastrack course and recommended it, so I plucked up the courage to go to an open day and I’ve never looked back.

Fastrack is pretty intense as you have to do two assignments a week plus lots of reading, presentations and lectures. It is really hard work but at the end of the day it’s all for your benefit, so that you can get to where you want to be. I barely saw my family for six weeks but it was worth it to feel my confidence growing and knowing I was fully prepared to take on a degree. If ever I felt like giving up, the staff and the other students helped me believe I could do it, and the thought that it was taking me a step closer to becoming a Restorative Justice Officer kept me focused.

I’ve now joined a BA (Hons) in Criminology at Edge Hill and I can say the main thing the Fastrack course has taught me is that you’re never too old to do anything. Before I started, I thought I’d be like the grandma sat in the corner, but the student population at the university is really quite diverse. I’ve actually enjoyed being one of the older ones. The younger students come to me with their issues – they’re away from home so I’m like their mum!

I’ve also discovered how strong I am. I can do things now that I would never have imagined before. As a busy mum, I thought I’d struggle, but I’ve found I can sit down and put my mind to things. It’s really changed my life.