When we decided to open a learning centre in Warburtons we had a joint discussion around naming the centre and we came up with LOAF: Learning Opens Avenues Forever, very fitting. At the time our project had funds available to kit out the centre completely with desks, chairs, computers and printer, those were the days!
The LOAF learning centre was opened over 10 years ago by Joe Marino, Johnathan Warburton and MP Joan Ryan and is still being used today.
We started with six computers in a room overlooking the bakery. The room was identified by the site manager but we quickly became aware that the positioning was not great as it was on the management floor and as space was short the company decided to move us.
They supplied us with a portacabin in the carpark which went down really well, I was running Computers for Beginners courses weekly, taking people who couldn’t even use a computer and teaching them the basics.
I was also delivering the ECDL programme, for those who don’t know this is the European Computer Driving Licence and consists of seven elements to learn (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, Internet and Email and How a Computer works) and, of course seven exams.
My success story here is Mandy Ambrose who is now working with the BFAWU on the Executive Council as the National Vice President. Mandy came to me knowing very little about computers but worked tirelessly to achieve her goal and went on to become a union learning rep (ULR) on site. Look how far being a ULR can take you!
After a while we were moved back into the building but to a smaller room so we took away three of the computers and now only have the three. The centre is still being used for staff training, a quiet room for learning, a branch office and of course for our English course that we have running with training provider KEITS.
In my time I have seen site managers come and go but they all were, and still are, very supportive to union learning and do as much as they possibly can to help us.