“Things I could do to get where I want to be”: the power of union learning

My name is Ann Mckelvey and I am a ULR for UNISON in Leeds.

I am very passionate about promoting UNISON and the learning opportunities that are, and should be available. Last year I was in hospital for a major operation. As I made my recovery, I was promoting UNISON services to nursing staff and patients and found that not all members are aware of the member benefits such as the life insurance, distance learning courses that are free, and give our members a recognised qualification, as well as the various discounts on things such as insurance and holidays.

This has made me even more determined that our members should be informed. It therefore, frustrates me that our government are stopping the ULF (Union Learning Fund) as this money is spent on making the lives of our members better, not just in the short term but also in the long term.

I am an example of this, without the UNISON courses I would not have had the confidence to enquire about university courses as I thought you had to have completed A Levels but through Return to Learn, I learnt there were things I could do to get where I want to be. I am now training to be a teacher at the University of Leeds. Another great thing about the courses is that you go there to learn but by the end of the session you have become part of a family and gained some wonderful friends. My only hope is we get more people on these courses and show the Government that the ULF is needed for all of us and our families.

I recently saw an email regarding the workshops with YGAM. I was overjoyed as I have worked alongside my colleague and friend Carol McGrath for the past two years to develop the collaboration between UNISON and YGAM. I initially attended one of their courses a few years ago and I could see the potential, not just for our members but for their families and for the children they work with educating people into the hidden areas of gambling and the effects it can have. Best of all is when the course is completed the knowledge you gain and the course information allows people to teach the awareness and those that complete the course the awareness course can have a certificate which is nationally recognised by ASDAN and Pearson.

We’re campaigning to save the Union Learning Fund, which the government have announced they’ll axe in March.

Here’s how you can help:

Sign the petition to Save Union Learning

Write to your MP:

Find your MP

Download a template letter

Tweet your support using the #SaveUnionLearning hashtag

Visit UNISON’s campaign page

If you’ve experienced the benefits of union learning for yourself and want to share that with other people in your workplace, you might be interested in becoming a UNISON learning rep. This is a really rewarding role that allows you to advocate for and empower others to reach their full potential – through learning.

We’re holding a webinar this month to explore more about the role and answer your questions.

Find out more