Adult Learners' Festival

AONTAS STAR Award Winners 2022

Adult Learning Initiatives that support Learner Voice
Sponsored by - Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI)


Your Voice - The Ability Board

The Ability Board-Your Voice: An advocacy group from Ability@Work by Cope Foundation, a service that brings young people with intellectual disabilities and/or autism closer to the labour market. The Ability Board are actively influencing policy and practice incorporating the UN Convention of the Rights of People with Disabilities with particular emphasis on Article 24 (education) and Article 27 (employment). This democratically elected Ability Board are successfully becoming a voice for people with intellectual disabilities in Ireland.

Adult Learning Initiatives that support Health and Wellbeing
Sponsored by - Mental Health Ireland

Winner Small & Medium Organisation

Dare2Dip! – The LightHouse, IDP

Dare2Dip!, a new programme developed and delivered by The LightHouse, a Social Enterprise powered by Inishowen Development Partnership. It provides introductory sea swimming safety guidance to new and novice sea swimmers while promoting the mental health and wellness benefits of being in the sea.

Winner Large Organisation

Hep C Project - SAOL

The Hep C Programme, run by the SAOL Project which counters misinformation about Hepatitis and Hepatitis treatment, particularly among the drug-using community. The programme provides training and up-to-date information about Hepatitis and its treatment, and the skills to share this information with others.

Adult Learning Initiatives that support Third-level Access and Engagement
Sponsored by - The Teachers' Union of Ireland

Winner Small/ Medium Organisation

Cultural & Heritage Studies - CSN, College of Further Education

Cultural & Heritage Studies, CSN, College of Further Education, is a one-year full-time programme focusing on Archaeology, History, Folklore and the Arts. It has been running for over 30 years with over 1,000 graduates and was the first of its kind in Cultural and Heritage Studies in Ireland.

Winner Large Organisation

Education Access for People Seeking Protection – Irish Refugee Council

Education Access for People Seeking Protection – Irish Refugee Council which supports refugees and people living in Direct Provision to access education. The initiative offers an Education Fund annually to cover fees, transport and materials for learning in further and higher education. They also advocate with Government to expand financial supports, and encourage and support a range of organisations to help them support refugees and those living in Direct Provision.

Special Recognition for a European Social Fund (ESF) Initiative
Sponsored by - the European Social Fund


Foundation 4 Life - South West Mayo Development Company CLG and the Western Region Drug and Alcohol Task Force

Foundation 4 Life is a transformative, education, life skills, and job activation programme for disengaged young people aged 18 - 25 who are not currently employed, in education, or training. It was developed by South West Mayo Development Company in partnership with the Western Region Drug and Alcohol Task Force under the Social Inclusion and Community Activation Programme.

Adult Learning Initiatives that support Social Inclusion
Sponsored by - The Open University in Ireland

Winner Small & Medium Organisation

Progression Programme – Aiséirí

The Aiseiri Progression Programme, a specialised education and training programme which supports men and women in addiction treatment and in the early years of recovery from addiction to access meaningful education and training, to set career goals, and to develop the confidence and skills needed to achieve these goals.

Winner Large Organisation

Amplifying Voices - Development Perspectives

Development Perspectives’ Amplifying Voices project which supports migrant communities to engage with cultural and educational activities for social integration. This project included podcasting and storytelling where eight migrants featured in a different podcast episode, sharing their stories of moving to Ireland. The podcasts provided a platform for migrants to enhance their confidence, develop relationships with their new communities, share information on issues related to migration, and challenge common myths, biases, fears around migration integration in new communities.

Adult Learning Initiatives that support Sustainable Development through Education
Sponsored by - Concern Worldwide

Winner Small Organisation

Biodiversity Garden and Tree Nursery Project - Cranmore Community Co-Op

The Biodiversity Garden and Tree Nursery Project, run by Cranmore Community Co-Op, encourages the local community to get involved with environmental and biodiversity awareness and climate action. The workshops give participants the opportunity to save local wildflower seeds, observe bees, and learn about the importance of wildlife in the food chain.

Winner Large Organisation

Sustainable Climate Action and Local Advocacy Youth Village, Cork

Sustainable Climate Action and Local Advocacy Youth Village, a project that was carried out by a group of volunteers to share important information about the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and what can be done to achieve them. A group of young people from the Cork Life Centre worked on the project making birdhouses from repurposed materials and gathering information for seventeen SDG stations on a walking trail.

Special Recognition for Mitigating Educational Disadvantage through Innovation (during COVID-19)
Sponsored by - Open College Network Northern Ireland (OCN NI)


Switch Onto Employment – START360

Start360 Switch onto Employment –This programme has offered education, training and employment opportunities to the hardest-to-reach young people across the wider Belfast area. The programme delivers training in literacy and numeracy, IT, employability and youth work. 60 young people from the ages of 16 to 24 participate annually.