A COLLEGE has helped three young women transform their lives and take that crucial step towards achieving their dreams.

Aged just 19, Nicole Brown found herself living on the streets, broke, homeless and without hope and support.

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Fleeing domestic violence, she ended up sharing emergency local authority accommodation with other vulnerable adults bearing nothing but a food voucher from the council.

Ten years on Nicole’s life couldn’t be more different.

Mrs Brown secured part time employment with the integrated housing provider in 2017, offering support to young vulnerable people who had also found themselves homeless at Teesdale House, Bishop Auckland.

Last year she was promoted to Client Service Manager, responsible for four properties providing accommodation for 14 clients in Bishop Auckland.

She manages a team of nine staff, supported by an on-site occupational therapist and mental health nurse.

The catalyst for turning her life round was a year at Bishop Auckland College, where she completed an Access to Higher Education course in 2015.

The 29-year-old of Bishop Auckland said: “The Access course at Bishop Auckland College became a crucial step in both my academic and personal journey and development to achieve what I have.

“My personal development through the Access year was truly incredible and aside from the achievements it was one of the hardest but most memorable academic years of my life.”

Mrs Brown’s personal experience has equipped her well for her new role, as she added: “Having been homeless and vulnerable I related well with the issues my customers were facing, which enabled me to work with them effectively.

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Another success story is that of Tina Robson, 34, was a stay at home mum before enrolling on the Access course. She has since graduated with a first-class honours degree and masters in psychology, and is now doing her doctorate.

She also works full time as a health co-ordinator for County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust, supporting patients with Type 2 diabetes.

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Lisa Earle was a part time cleaner in a care home when she enrolled on the Access to HE course in 2012. Passing her degree in social work with first class honours four years later, she is now a senior social worker on the looked after children team at Durham County Council.

Natalie Davison-Terranova, Principal and Chief Executive of Bishop Auckland College, said:

“What our teaching staff do is truly transformational; the Access students gone on to achieve amazing things and they have a high regard for their former tutors.”