Jo Southern, steward at UNISON Blackpool Health branch, has worked at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust for 33 years as a healthcare assistant. In May 2017, she approached the branch’s union learning reps to see if she could get any help to improve her literacy and numeracy skills. They suggested that she attend assessment workshops in Manchester in September 2017, which were organised by regional learning and development organiser Tom Jenkins and held over the course of a weekend.
There weren’t enough people interested in a numeracy course for it to run, but Jo signed up to a Level 2 English Functional Skills course. She attended classes every Saturday from September and took the exam in December.
Jo really enjoyed the course, and met people to network with for mutual support. She found some parts challenging, particularly writing essays, but it’s a challenge she was equal to! Having passed the exam, she would like to undertake numeracy or IT learning next.
Jo said, ‘I found the assessment really useful as I was not sure what levels I was working at. I really enjoyed the course, although I was very nervous at first as I hadn’t done any learning for over ten years. Now I have achieved my Level 2 English Functional Skills I will be able to apply for better jobs and undertake further study. I have got the bug for learning now.’