Danny West a gay man, aged 47, from Lewisham, is now a successful businessman; however in 1985 he was one of the first people in the UK to be diagnosed as HIV positive at the age of 24. His dedication and commitment to learning is being recognised with the National Learning Works Award – sponsored by the European Social Fund (ESF) – as part of Adult Learners’
Week 9 – 15 May 2009.
Following his diagnosis Danny spent a number of years working in the new and evolving UK HIV charities – such as London Lighthouse and Body Positive.
However, he was forced to give up work and lived on benefits for 14 years.
Through improved medical treatments Danny returned to learning three years ago, “I needed to learn to increase my knowledge and skills which would enable me to set up my own business and return to work,” he said.
In those three years Danny has done a huge amount of learning. He has trained as a life coach (with the Coaching Academy), learnt how to start and run his own training and coaching business (with help from an ESF-funded
project) and completed a management qualification with the Chartered Management Institute.
Danny now operates a successful business, working throughout the UK and Europe delivering training, leadership consultancy and coaching. Danny primarily works with disabled people, people with long term health conditions and HIV, and the organisations that support them. He is Vice-Chair of National Long Term Survivors Group, a national user-led support organisation for those with living with HIV.
He said, “My learning has increased my confidence and abilities. It has enabled me to fulfil a life time goal. My work is inspirational and extremely rewarding, and I am motivated by making a significant difference to the lives of the people with whom I work.”
Tony McNulty MP, Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions, said, “I am pleased that the ESF is again sponsoring Adult Learners’ Week this year. It is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the achievements of people like Danny and to show how it can help improve their job prospects.
All the winners’ stories will undoubtedly inspire even more people to engage in learning.”
Rachel Thomson, Senior Campaigns Officer at NIACE, said, “The outstanding adult learning we celebrate during Adult Learners’ Week shows the range and breadth of adults’ enthusiasms, skills and determination to succeed, often against the odds. Our winners are remarkable – for their energy, commitment and talent – and each and every one should be extremely proud of what they’ve achieved.”