AS a single father to three young girls, Declan Allen (46) does not have a lot of spare time.
However, Mr Allen jumped at the chance to take part in the Catalyst Clemente program, which is run through Edith Cowan University (ECU) and St Vincent de Paul Society.
Mr Allen, who recently moved from Inglewood to Guildford, is about eight weeks into the program, which provides a pathway to university for people facing financial, health or social issues.
He said he always wanted to study a Bachelor of Arts but juggling work and three children made it difficult.
“I drive limousines on weekends so I can take care of my daughters during the week,” Mr Allen said.
The free four-unit program at the St Vincent de Paul head office in Belmont provides students with a University Certificate in Humanities and Arts, which makes them eligible for admission into an ECU undergraduate degree.
Mr Allen would like to become an art teacher and is also hoping to enter a portrait of his brother, thriller writer Chris Allen, in the Archibald Prize this year.
“I would have never been confident enough to do it (before starting the program),” Mr Allen said.
“I’ve loved every minute of it.”
St Vincent de Paul Society chief executive Mark Fitzpatrick said the organisation was dedicated to helping people who are marginalised or disadvantaged.
“This program provides an invaluable opportunity for people who may otherwise never have the chance undertake tertiary study,” Mr Fitzpatrick said.
“More than that, it will help instil the confidence and hope needed to bring about positive changes in their life.”
ECU Dean of Arts and Humanities Professor Clive Barstow said the program had benefits for the individual and the larger community.
“An education in arts and humanities empowers people to make positive changes in their lives and enrich their communities,” Professor Barstow said.