From a sweet incentive to lunch and learn: making learning appetising in Bristol

Six months ago, Teresa Crichton, communications officer at Bristol branch, set up a recruitment and learning stall – but she found it difficult to engage either with UNISON members or with non-members. So she changed her approach: she set up three more stalls at different locations across the city, and gave out chocolates with an offer of ‘free learning’.

That free learning included courses on: the Equality Act; pensions; and the Menopause at Work. Deputy Mayor, Asher Craig, attended these sessions.

Building on the success of these sessions, the branch approached the employer’s head of Human Resources, Mark Williams, who agreed to make rooms available for learning. He also¬†offered help from the internal communications team to promote UNISON learning opportunities across the council.

Managers identified a demand for training on TUPE (Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations) and on workplace stress. This was where Mark Everden, regional education officer for UNISON South West, entered the picture, creating a bespoke TUPE training session to fit into a lunch hour slot. Mark said, ‘This branch has used education the way it should be used: to inform, engage, recruit and retain members and activists.’

Kate Robins, the branch education co-ordinator, said ‘It was a great question and answer session, and particularly satisfying that members’ questions were being answered.’

Now the team has a full year’s worth of sessions booked in, covering a wide range of topics. Both Teresa and Kate have been nominated for regional ‘Get Active’ awards. And Teresa has created a flow chart that sets out the process, funding, and history of the project, to make it easier for future branch officers to put further learning activities in place.

Oreleo Du Cran from UNISON Learning and Organising Services commtented, ‘Teresa and Kate have been instrumental in raising the profile of learning in the branch and have forged a great partnership with the employer to facilitate informal learning.’