MEMBERS of an over-55s project have become part of a scheme to 'get Blackbird Leys learning' by discovering the work of black journalists in the Second World War.

Older people at the Clockhouse Project in Long Ground received certificates from the county council after taking part in the 10-week 'Wordsmiths of War' course.

Sessions were led by social worker Natty Mark Samuels as part of a series of free courses to enrich the lives of people on the estate and teach them new skills.

Mr Samuels, of Donnington Bridge, said: "My father was born in Jamaica and in school he didn't learn black history, he learned 'British' history.

"Members of the Clockhouse said they thought it was nice to get something about our history and culture; they have gained knowledge they never had."

Over ten one-hour sessions the group gained awareness of the work of American cartoonist Ollie Harrington and news correspondent Enoch Waters.

The group also studied reports by Guyanese conductor Rudolph Dunbar, who worked as a war correspondent with the American 8th Army and crossed the English Channel on D-Day, and Ollie Stewart, the first black journalist to receive his credentials from the British War Department.

Mr Samuels said: "Usually when I deliver a course we do everything according to the scheme of work or the lesson plan.

"But with this one, because of the students' age, we made it more improvised, took time and had discussion. It was lovely."

The course is one of many being run by Abingdon and Witney College, which invested last year in new courses at the Leys Adult Learning Centre.

Other sessions being funded by the college include computing as well as confidence-building and mindfulness to overcome barriers to learning.

Local woman Sasha East, who took a managing role for the scheme based at Blackbird Leys Library in January, said 150 courses were lined up for the next academic year.

She said: "There are lots of courses starting up: two IT courses, a community development course and touch typing, which is a really good skill to save time and effort.

"We are going to start a Friday morning newspaper and discussion group at the library; you can put the world to rights and learn about current affairs."

So far about 35 people have completed courses at locations across the Leys including the community centre and the Leys News offices in Kingfisher Green.

Ms East said: "It's early days and it's a new thing, so I'm hoping that in time we will learn more about what people want to see us put on."

For more information call 01235 216459 or 0738 7108 486.