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Acorn Training awarded ‘Network of the Year’ and Founder, Gareth Fallows, is honoured with ‘Role Model Award’ for positive contributions to the LGBTQ+ and wider community at the inspirational World Skills UK – Diversity & Inclusion Heroes Awards 2020

  • Acorn Training scoops two awards out of the five categories
  • The national training provider is praised for its positive contribution within the LGBTQ+ and wider community
  • Gareth Fallows honoured for championing diversity and inclusion and being a recognised role model within the LGBTQ+ community

 (Thursday, 28th January 2021) Acorn Training has been recognised for their work championing diversity and inclusion within their organisation and the local communities they serve at the World Skills UK Diversity & Inclusion Awards 2020.  These inspiring awards are hosted in partnership with Coca-Cola European partners and are an opportunity to recognise outstanding commitment to promoting and supporting diverse and inclusive practices and celebrate those making a real difference.

Hundreds gathered to celebrate during a lively and emotive virtual ceremony on the evening of Thursday 28th January where Acorn Training were successful in two of the five categories; Network of the Year and Role Model Award for Gareth Fallows, Acorn Training Founder.

Acorn’s triumphs were supported by their positive contribution to the LGBTQ+ community including breaking down barriers through challenging stereotypes and misconceptions. The LGBTQ+ owned organisation has worked to engage 6 LGBTQ+ employers in their apprenticeship programmes and supports the physical and mental health wellbeing of its learners and apprentices, including access to sexual health services.

The Acorn Training Justice Services team were also praised for their success in helping to develop a transgender prisoner, progressing the prisoner to lead IAG services at a category B prison supporting 50-60 other prisoners including two other members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Niki Freeman, Assistant Director of Employability and Justice, comments on the Network of the Year accolade “I’m so happy and proud of the Acorn team for winning this award. Our customers are from all backgrounds with different abilities and face many challenges that we support them with. As our team are so passionate due to personal experiences, it enables us to support our customers with real-life experiences and solutions.”

The second win of the evening was presented directly to Acorn Founder, Gareth Fallows, who was honoured with the ‘Role Model Award’. Gareth faced challenges in his personal life due to his sexuality and has used his experiences to build Acorn Training into an inclusive and safe space for the LGBTQ+ and wider community. Gareth’s life teachings have ensured he is well-placed to fully understand the journey a LGBTQ+ individual may be facing and is passionate about equality in all factors, ensuring this ethos is echoed throughout all of the Acorn team and its operations.

Gareth, comments on his recognition “It’s great honour to accept this award, I’m extremely  proud that our LGBTQ+ learners are able to call me a role model and that Acorn Training is considered a safe and secure place to learn and work. I would also like to thank the extraordinary team here at Acorn Training who work together as a family to facilitate the important work we do. I’m extremely proud of the strong network we have created and the positive impact it has on so many people’s lives”.

The Stoke-on-Trent based organisation have helped over 1350 unemployed people with 68% achieving sustained employment. These significant awards are a recognition of the hard work and support provided by Acorn Training and their continued passion for diversity and inclusion by ensuring equal opportunities for all. 


Notes to editors

Acorn Training are a national training provider delivering apprenticeships, online courses, employability programmes, justice services, skills & career development. To learn more about the organisation and its offerings, please visit: https://www.acorntraining.co.uk/ or follow on social media: Instagram: @Acorn_training_ltd Twitter: @AcornTrainingUK LinkedIn: Acorn Training Ltd Facebook: Acorn Training UK

Gareth Fallows, of Stoke-on-Trent, has worked within the skills and welfare to work industry since 1996, spending a number of years working within Further Education and welfare to work, delivering high profile regional contracts, such as Private Sector Led New Deal, Pathways to Work, The Work Programme, Community Work Placement and numerous Skills Funding Agency and DWP ESF contracts and Apprenticeships.

As a teenager, Gareth faced challenges because of his sexuality. Despite these obstacles, Gareth found safety and security within his LGBTQ+ community and further education, training as a secondary school teacher at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2001. 

In 2008, he founded Acorn Training, now a large apprenticeships, skills, justice and employability provider employing close to 100 staff nationally. Gareth felt it was important for Acorn Training to be a safe and inclusive space for all communities, thus creating inclusive opportunities and breaking down engagement and motivational barriers. Gareth is passionate about equality in all factors and uses his own experiences to be well placed to fully understand the journey of LGBTQ+ individuals whilst continuing to understand and help other communities. 

Gareth holds a Masters Degree in Local Economic Regeneration from University and completed a MSc in Local Economic Regeneration. Gareth is currently undertaking a professional Doctorate in Education at the University of Birmingham.

Contact Info

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Hanley, Stoke on Trent
Staffordshire ST1 1DL

01782 827 827