Life Long Learning – latest

Apprentice Nicola Plays Her Cards Right!

When UNISON Bury Local Govt branch ULR coordinator Roger Pakeman, UNISON Regional Learning Organiser Steve Swift and Unionlearn’s Mark Rowe revisited Bury Council apprentices to update their skills checks with […]

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Apprentices Are Everybody’s Business

  Following on from the work done with apprentices at Bury Council which was featured in a Unionlearn report for Government, UNISON ULR lead Roger Pakeman and Unionlearn Apprentice Lead […]

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North West UNISON Branches Enjoy Free Workshops!

Taking advantage of UNISON Learning And Organising Services’ free workshop offer for members, there have been several workshops taking place throughout the region. The 1 day workshops, delivered by the […]

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Sefton Health Branch Honoured In National Learning Awards

At the 19th Annual Learning Awards in February, Sefton Health UNISON branch and Aintree University Hospital won the silver award for their work with apprentices. The judges particularly “applauded the […]

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British Sign Language a Hit with Learners

             On Saturday 8 November, thirty-one Warrington council employees took the opportunity to spend their Saturday learning basic British Sign Language. Working in partnership with the Warrington & District Society […]

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Preparing for Retirement – 16th September 9.30-4.30 Arena Point

Do you work in Local Government? Are you 2 years away from retirement – 1yr – or 6 months away? Are you a Pensions Champion or Pensions Contact? Are you thinking of organising a similar course in your Branch for your members?

Why not come along to this free course for members (and their partners, where appropriate).

 The programme will include

  • Managing Change – moving from work to retirement
  •  Occupational Pensions in Local Government
  •  Independent Financial Advice – what is the typical process you can expect from companies
  •  Legal Matters – will and trusts
  •  Statutory Pensions and state benefits

 The programme will not include

  • A sales pitch of any kind for financial products

 If you would like to attend please complete the application form and if you would need to claim your travelling expenses from the Branch get the Branch to authorise your application – but if you are willing to pay your own travelling expenses then send in the form just with your details and no branch authorisation. ALL APPLICANTS must include their UNISON membership number.

 There are 20 places available and if we get more interest we will hold names on a waiting list for a future event.

 We are also considering a similar programme for members in the NHS scheme – watch out for the dates.

ULF Project and Branch Activity Learning Report

ULF Projects and related activities I have now been in post around 12 months and am finding that some branches are now running with their own activities and agreeing their own programmes going forward, which is very satisfying. There is lots of possibility for learning on the year going forward and I hope that lifelong learning is now far higher on the agenda with branches and employers and is now being plugged into organising.  Steve Swift, Sept 2013


Lancashire and Cumbria

Hyndburn Local Government

I met with the branch recently who are keen to begin some digital inclusion learning work. Myself and Mark Rowe are to present details of possible campaigns to a Councillors meeting in the next month or so, after which we will begin learning events and digital inclusion work.

University of Cumbria

This branch is at the beginning of learning. They have sent out a learning survey and had an excellent response. The branch is looking at courses around Coping With Change, assertiveness and Mental Health in the Workplace; we shall look at the other courses required once the survey has been discussed.


Greater Manchester

Bolton Metro

The branch will be participating in a Council market event on 24th September and we will be organising regular learning events with taster sessions and presentations for Waste Management and Environmental Services beginning in November.

Bridgewater Health

This branch has energised Education and Lifelong learning coordinators and seeing buy in from the employer around learning. The branch are looking to run Mental Health in the Workplace courses for members, but also invite management to see the resources in order to roll the courses out throughout the organisation.

Bury Local Government (new ULF project)

Bury branch has ULF funding for promotion and events around digital inclusion. There is a graduate who has been identified to lead the project who is about to begin in post. The steering group for learning is large and keen to work with TU’s; a learning agreement is about to be signed. We are about to identify the areas on which the project needs to focus; activity will then begin with events and surveys signposting and leading to courses.

Manchester Airport

Sadly, the ULF project board made the decision to cease funding the AirportLearn project, but that has brought the project further forward and I will be working with Branch Sec/Education Coordinator James Bills to put together a programme of learning, utilising the contacts already made with providers. The airport branch should have 7-8 ULRs on the next course.

Manchester Metropolitan University (new ULF project)

MMU have funding for a tablet to capture training needs analyses; it is expected that one of their ULRs who sits on a heavy footfall area will hold Training Needs Analyses. We will be talking to the organisation around digital inclusion, functional skills and ESOL to embed learning.

Manchester City Branch (continuation project)

As part of the ongoing survey of over 3,000 staff, there is an ongoing programme of functional skills taking place which we expect will roll out throughout the year, at a rate of around 15-20 per month for English, maths and ICT. There is also an ongoing programme of QCF (Qualifications and Credit Framework) courses taking place in business admin and customer service; Manchester City Council intends to continue this programme and also roll out level 3 and about qualifications, which they will fund.

The project is also looking for dates to roll out a programme of UNISON Mental Health in the Workplace courses to members which will hopefully then be embedded in the employer learning plans. There are also ongoing with Manchester College, the largest college in Europe, to begin a ULR network there and to begin a learning programme. The project in these areas has been in abeyance over the last couple of months due to illness, but we are expecting a take up again soon.

The Manchester Digital Inclusion campaign, the Go On campaign, has recruited 960 Digital Champions, some of which are Manchester branch/City Council ULRs. In the next couple of months we will be instituting a training programme for as many Digi Champs as we can, a large undertaking, but necessary.

As part of the Go On campaign, the project is working with social landlords, particularly around issues of Universal Credit. Northwards Housing is about to open a community learning and activity centre, the YES centre, in North Manchester and UNISON will be providing courses, Digi Champs and ULRs to help with the learning there. Eastlands homes have 20 Digi Champs which we will be training; they also have regular digital awareness sessions. We will get together the group of Digi Champs and let them know what is happening in the wider area with learning, plus give them details of where they can take their role in the future – ULRs from MCC may be involved here.

We also expect an updated Learning Agreement to be signed with the council in the next few months.

The project also has an informal agreement with Manchester College to look at beginning a ULR network. We will identify the ULR interest in the new term and expect about 5-6 ULRs to be given training in late September. As the college in the largest Europe and a main partner in the Go On Manchester campaign, we expect engagement to be wide ranging.

Pennine Acute (new ULF project)

The branch are working closely with the employer to begin some learning which will then become embedded and self sustaining. To this end,  the RO, Kevin Lucas and I have met with HR and development contacts at the employer, identified courses which would be mutually beneficial to staff and members and are looking at dates. It is intended that these courses will begin a programme of learning, events and courses; aiding with organising.

We are also about to talk to G4S as one of the elements of the ULF project, working in the same way to make progress with that employer in learning and organising.

Salford Health/Salford Royal Hospital (new ULF Project)

The branch and the employer are working in partnership to raise the awareness of dyslexia, hold assessments and signpost/provide courses and learning. There is already a Dyslexia group in existence, organised by the UNISON project manager and 2 project partners will soon be embarking on dyslexia assessment courses. They aim to hold events throughout the year, including a large event during Celebration of Learning in October.

Salford Metro

There is a Learning Agreement on the table at Salford which union colleagues have signed but the Mayor has not yet completed, I met with the Mayor in mid August and he has suggested that he would like to work with Unison to get the agreement signed. I hope that this will be done in the next month.

There is a growing Unison selection of ULRs in the council, led by Sam who is waiting to put a programme of courses in place after sending out ULRs with surveys. This is all in abeyance because of the learning agreement delays.

Wigan Metro

The council has launched a digital inclusion campaign, which has activity in the community through community groups. The LG branch are now engaged with the work which is going on, we have identified the new Wigan super depot and a couple of other depots for event and learning activity and are putting the details together for access and possible days.

Merseyside and Cheshire

Liverpool City (continuation project)

This project continues to produce good outcomes, working as it does in a cluster of schools in a certain area, offering Adult Education courses in mainly Functional Skills, phonics and dyslexia awareness. In the coming term, the schools will now look at courses in languages, yoga, Pilates and crafts. The project has increasing councillor interest and also recruits well too.

The learners from a couple of schools attended an award ceremony during the Liverpool Council Adult Learners Week and there should be a story in a UNISON national publication soon.

The project has secured additional funding from the DALLAS digital inclusion service in Liverpool to open a digital hub. They have chosen a community centre in Club Moor/Norris Green to house the activity and UNISON will be leading on the learning and the outcomes from this venture – this has excellent Councillor buy in.

Sefton Health (new ULF project)

Sefton Health have launched their Digital Inclusion project for their Aintree site, have signed up 15 Digital Champions with more to come and will be collecting training needs information, offering courses and signing up Digi Champs and ULRs. There is already a Functional Skills programme which the branch are heavily involved in and the project will feed into and extend this.

The project will also engage with two more health areas, a womens’ facility and a facility run by G4S, offering the Digital Inclusion work and broadening out into offer of Functional Skills and other courses. It is intended that launches for both of those centres will take place in September.

Sefton Health ULF project has also secured DALLAS funding for the provision a digital hub in the Aintree Hospital facility and has applied for funding for the other two facilities, which should be agreed in September. This is to provide mobile and pop up digital kit, enabling the ULRs and Digi Champs to move freely around the offices and reach more staff.

North Cheshire Health

After the branch and I working with the organisation for a while, Warrington and Halton hospitals have now agreed to institute a year long programme of sign language courses for staff which they are funding. We aim to use this basis to offer TU courses as part of a wider programme; there appears to be excellent possibility here.

Cheshire East and West

Unison have some very energised ULRs in this branch and the Council learning activity, which was GMB led but static, is now moving and led by Unison. Unison ULRs have organised a takeover of the council Lunch and Learn taster sessions and will be presenting sessions from now to Christmas and after around budgeting for Christmas, alternative Christmas gifts, healthy eating, the Open University, 24plus loans for learning and —. This will continue after Christmas, involving more ULRs and more ideas, adding a regular roadshow at all of the council arias – reaching Winsford and Ellesmere Port which have had little targeting activity – around healthy eating , bringing in learning colleagues, chefs, the local leisure centre and others. From this start, as we have a learning advocate at the head of the council learning steering group, we hope to embed union learning, as the employer will see how learning can be effective and can reach out to employees and the community.


From their ULF project which ended in June and was held primarily over the May and June periods, the branch engaged with 83 learners through digital learning surveys and that information has now been fed to the council to move forward working together to establish some courses, probably mainly functional skills.




FREE COURSES planned for UNISON members plans for 2013-2014

Women’s Lives – 12 weekly sessions – the course is specifically designed for women who have been away from learning for a while but who now want to take up new learning opportunities – looking at subjects of interest to women and drawing on experiences at home and at work the course will develop your skills and increase your confidence in writing, undertaking research, analysing and problems solving
1. Burnley/Nelson, Lancashire – Thursday evenings 6.30-9pm beginning 17th October 2013
2. Bolton, Greater Manchester – Mar’14
3. Liverpool, Merseyside – Mar’14
Return to Learn – 16 weekly sessions – UNISON’s flagship open college course is offered FREE to members each year, it’s aimed specifically at people who have been away from a learning environment for a while and need a confidence boost and some basic skills to get them back into the ‘swim’ again. Participants learn at their own pace over four modules, writing, understanding, research and numeracy.
4. North Manchester, Pennine Care – Oct’13
5. Liverpool community Health – Mar’14
6. Countess of Chester Hospital – Mar’14
Coping with Change – 1 day course –   Participants will understand how they are affected by change, particularly change in the workplace and they will be able to consider methods to begin to view change positively and proactively and make a positive contribution to change in the workplace
7. North Manchester Hospital Oct’13 (in partnership with Pennine Care)
UNISON’s Saturday Learning Club 2014
8. IT Skills Check
9. Getting your CV together
10. Coping with Change
11. Speaking in Public, presentation Skills
Dates and exact locations to follow – watch this space and talk to members about the programme – if you gather some interest we will keep them on a waiting list and as soon as the dates are set we’ll write to them. Ask members to text me with their membership number and the location and course they are interested in – 07904342203 – or email [email protected] with the details
(Members who don’t know their membership number should phone UNISONdirect 08453550845 lines are open 6am-12 midnight Monday to Friday and 9-4pm on Saturdays)

Helen Titherington : UNISON North West Regional Education Officer, 20 Aug’13


UNISON ULR Norman Hunter Receives Digital Champion Award

Stormin’ Norman


Norman receiving his award


Norman receiving his award

UNISON learning rep Norman Hunter, who is an ICT tutor at Merseylearn, was named 2013 Local Digital Champion at this year’s Technology4Good Awards in London. According to the judging panel, Norman was an inspirational tutor helping people from disadvantaged parts of Merseyside get online for the first time.

Norman has managed a series of successful events at rail and bus stations, helping to recruit more than 500 digital champions to help others get online and access digital services. He has helped service users, staff and carers connected with several key charities, including cancer, mental health and Aids organisations, to help people vital internet advice and support.

And he has created learning resources for digital champions in Jobcentre Plus offices to help them more effectively support their clients navigate the online jobseeking and benefit systems.

“It’s a great honour to be recognised in this way: there are lots of people doing a fantastic job helping digital inclusion and I’d like to think the award has gone to all of them, not just myself” Norman said.