‘Everyone treats each other with respect at CANDI. It’s just a great place to be’

As the nation celebrates 50 years of Pride this June, former City and Islington College (CANDI) student Freddie Cook shares how the college gave him support and a platform to share his experiences as a gay man with other students.

When Freddie Cook celebrated the results of his Public Services diploma last summer, he was unable to hold back his love and appreciation of City and Islington College (CANDI).

“My teachers really helped give me the support I needed. For me, CANDI was like a second family,” he said, bursting with pride after achieving a triple Distinction.

Now a year into studying a BA (Hons) Criminology with Criminal Justice at the University of Greenwich, he recalled coming out as gay to his teacher at CANDI when he was 16.

“My tutor was so supportive and made sure everyone was on board with it. The college was really looking out for me and made sure I was in a safe place,” said Freddie, who lives in Islington.

Freddie’s tutor gave him the opportunity to educate other students about the history of the LGBTQ+ community, life in the public services as a gay person and the HIV and AIDS pandemic.

“I had so many of my peers tell me they would never have known about these things if I had not shared my experience,” said Freddie.

“It encouraged more people to feel comfortable in themselves.”

CANDI’s Public Services courses are ideal for anyone looking to join the Armed Forces, emergency service or other related profession in the security and legal sector.

“The course covers a mixture of topics. You look at how the services and legal system work, and there are some physical aspects to it, as you need to be fit to work in the public services,” he said.

“The teachers were so helpful with assignments and always there and happy to help you with any problems you may have. They supported and prepared us so much for the world we’re going into and what to expect when we go into our chosen careers.”

Freddie, now 19, hopes to join the Met Police as a dog handler or become a Border Force officer when he finishes his university degree in 2024.

“CANDI is an amazing college. It’s so friendly,” he said. “Everyone treats each other with respect. It’s just a great place to be.” 

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