I wanna tell you a story

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"We are all storytellers. We all live in a network of stories. There isn’t a stronger connection between people than storytelling.” - Jimmy Neil Smith, Director of the International Storytelling Center.

Unionlearn feel that stories are a vital way to get our message across and highlight the benefits of union supported workplace learning.

Telling stories is the best way to pass on information from one human being to another. People have told stories since the beginning of time, and is how cultures pass on information and skills to the next generation. 

Stories are powerful because they build a connection between the writer and the reader that can engage emotions, capture attention and encourage participation. Stories can pass on values as well as skills, and are a very good way to help people remember a message or idea as well as share good practise.

Many people say they are doing nothing special when they help colleagues at work – but this is wrong. Every time a learner is supported by a Union Learning Rep (ULR), whether it’s through a bite sized briefing or a full higher level course, by helping an apprentice starting out on in the workplace or an older worker looking at a career review, it is a time where the union has helped someone develop a new skill. 

This could result in improved confidence at work, new or improved job opportunities, the ability to help their kids with their homework or a spark a new interest or hobby.

These are all positive outcomes – and worth sharing.

Telling the story of this support or a learner’s journey can inspire others to get involved with similar activities and events. It could change some perceptions of what a union is about and how they support working people or it could persuade an employer to engage more.

So stories are important, and everyone has a few to tell – but what should they include?

The basics of a story are the Who, What, Where, How and Why – so who is the story about, what did they do, where did it happen, how did it happen and why did they do it.

All good stories include something that readers can relate to. In the case of workplace learning this can be an induvial learner, or small group, and how they benefited from the activities that unions have organised. Or it could be the way that a ULR identified a need or decided on the best way to help their colleagues.

It is more engaging to hear the person explain things in their own words – so quotes are always good, and a story shouldn’t use too much jargon that might not be understood by people working in different sectors. Quotes from the learner and the union can really tell the story – but so can comments from an employer on the benefits from working in partnership with the union to improve the skills of their workforce.

Unionlearn is always really keen to hear your learning stories and post them up on the unionlearn website and social media platforms. We will always help unions, reps and learners develop their stories and draft something to be checked over. 

So please tell us a story!

If you have a story that you would like to share with fellow reps, learners and the wider public drop Keith an email at [email protected]

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Keith Hatch

Keith Hatch is a unionlearn Projects Support Officer covering communications and the unionlearn website and social media platforms.

Keith is always on the lookout for a good story to show the work that unions do supporting workplace learning and skills.