Graduation tales: From landlady to helping domestic violence victims

Joanna Oakley Health and Social Care Management degree

Joanna Oakley



RUNNING a pub and restaurant full-time would be enough to keep most people busy, doing that and studying for a degree could be too much for many to handle.

But Joanna Oakley, 42, has been doing just that for the past three years, and has now graduated with a 2:1 class degree in Health and Social Care Management from the University of South Wales (USW).

And it’s likely to mean a change of direction for the single mum-of-one from Aberdare, who’s secured a job working for Calan DVS in Neath Port Talbot, which supports victims of domestic abuse.

“I left school during sixth-form, after getting my GCSEs – having been out and worked, I was enjoying having the money,” said Joanna.

“Eventually I started managing the Ysyscynon Inn in Cwmbach, which I’ve been doing for the past nine years, but got to an age where I decided I’d like to consider other options.”

Looking to expand her knowledge, Joanna enrolled on an Access to Health Professions course at Coleg Morgannwg in Aberdare, completing the part-time study in 2013.

“I initially wanted to go into nursing, but a friend told me about the Health and Social Care Management course at USW,” she added.

“And I’m glad I decided to go down that route. It was very tough to get back into education after going back after so many years, but I had a lot of support from the lecturers – they have been marvellous.”

As part of her course, Joanna had a placement with Calan DVS, based in Neath, and it’s now turned into a permanent role.

“The time with DVS was something I enjoyed very much,” Joanna said.

“It’s a very challenging position – looking after women and children in refuges, perhaps helping them with mental health issues, substance abuse, and housing, and dealing with multiple agencies.

“I was also involved in the S.T.A.R. project – which supported children from homes where domestic violence was a fact of life, helping them to talk about their experiences and to meet others who may have been in the same position they were, to help prevent them being involved in similar relationships in the future.

“I’m really looking forward to continuing to be involved with them, and using what I’ve learned over the past three years at USW to good use.”

While Joanna is delighted to have successfully completed her degree, she’s looking forward to raising a glass to her daughter’s success next year.

“My daughter Emily, who’s 21, will be graduating from her English Literature and American Studies course at Swansea University next year, so there’ll be another reason to celebrate in 2017,” Joanna added.

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