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Spreading the learning bug

Unite takes learning into the community
Brett Sparkes, Monday, June 22nd, 2015

In June Unite Community members from across the South West attended the first ever ULR (union learning reps) course specifically designed for non-working Trade Union Members. The course is broadly based on the Unite ULR course but adapted to be relevant for organising in communities rather than workplaces.


Activists who have been central to campaigns as diverse and challenging as fighting the privitisation of the NHS, saving youth services, public transport or welfare reform came together to discover how learning can be utilised to forward their campaigns and help ordinary people improve their chances.


Activist and local radio star Judeline Ross tells us why she was attracted to the ULR course. “I wanted to be more active, the more I have heard about support being taken away and people struggling the more I wanted to help. This course has opened my eyes to a different way of organising, by using learning we can bring people together.”


Caroline Stevenson is the branch secretary of the Unite Bristol Area Community Branch and saw some very real practical ways that the training was useful. “We have made some close links with tenants’ groups in Bristol and have started to recruit members. One of the groups has a learning centre but the tenants don’t know how to use it. I am really looking forward to using what I’ve learnt to help these residents.”


The participants went on to develop a series of plans to make learning a reality in communities across the South West.


Unite union learning organiser Matt Gillett developed the course for Community Members and was really enthusiastic about how easily the concept of learning in the community was grasped. “These members are really inspiring, they are determined to make learning work in the community but also to using learning as a tool for organising.


“Unite community is growing and achieving great things. This is giving Unite another string to our campaigning bow and shows how LearnwithUnite can support our members in a very practical way.


“We also took the opportunity to enrol those on the course on the LearnwithUnite IT courses, we hope that these new ULRs will take that knowledge into communities and facilitate the course for other members.”


After this successful run out of the course Unite Community and LearnwithUnite are putting plans together for more courses, we don’t want anyone to miss out on this opportunity.


Andy Burton from Highbridge, Somerset summed up the feelings of the whole course when he said, “It will give me  focus and direction as an individual and within the group. I can see tangible ways that this can help our communities to come together.”



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