Former West Lothian College student Kevin Neary spoke of his life experiences at a parliamentary reception organised by Colleges Scotland to showcase the impact of colleges on people, communities and economies across Scotland.
The main speakers on the night were Jamie Hepburn MSP, Minister for Skills, and SVQ Social Services graduate Kevin Neary who was speaking not just as a West Lothian College student but for the whole college sector.
In February, Kevin spoke about adverse childhood experiences at West Lothian College’s staff conference and had a similar focus in his speech at parliament.
Kevin praised his assessor, Amanda, for her critical role in helping him choose, secure funding for, and stick at his qualification. He praised the efforts being made by college staff and Student Association to support students in need and to become a trauma informed college.
Kevin said: “It was an honour to be speaking at the Scottish Parliament and to be nominated by West Lothian College to do so. It gave me a platform to showcase the outstanding work that the college provides from the management, staff and students and how they all work so closely together to make the students’ journey through college as stress-free as possible.”
Kevin co-founded Aid & Abet in 2014, a charity dedicated to supporting people involved in the criminal justice system in Edinburgh and Lothian, with a focus on those who have been in custody. They help people to avoid going down the same paths that led them into trouble previously.
On the charity Kevin added: “Aid & Abet came about after being caught up for many years in the criminal justice system and in an ocean of addiction. Aid & Abet has been the biggest part of my recovery journey, helping and supporting people leaving prison.”
Commenting on Kevin’s speech, Jamie Hepburn MSP said: “It was a real privilege to be able to hear Kevin speak so powerfully about his own experience and the huge difference that college has made to him.”
The reception was attended by the college principal Jackie Galbraith, board members Alex Linkston and Moira Niven, the college’s Student President and Vice President, and Kevin’s assessor, Amanda Robbins.
Jackie Galbraith, principal of West Lothian College said: “Kevin is an outstanding ambassador for West Lothian College. Many of our students face barriers to learning caused by traumatic circumstances in their lives, and our staff and award-winning Student Association work hard to find ways to help them overcome these obstacles so that they have a better chance of achieving their qualifications.”