I trained as a Union Learner Rep back in 2018 and I can remember Lawrence Miller, the lifelong learning project worker, visiting our workplace. He told us about Chhaya Patel and her role as MULR. Lawrence said that they were looking to appoint another MULR for the Southampton & Isle of Wight area. I thought it sounded interesting and swapped contact details with Lawrence.
Lawrence came to meet me to talk through in more detail what the MULR role involved and how the facilities time would work. It was a positive meeting and gave Lawrence the opportunity to get to know me a little better and assess if I would be suitable for the position.
Although the start date of the role had been pushed back to April 2019, I was still eager to get started. Fortunately, I already had a network of union reps in stores around the area, some of which were already ULRs. Having advised them I would be a MULR, they were very supportive with offers to help where they could.
As it was, my new role of MULR was then brought forward to March. I had a meeting with Lawrence to complete paperwork and he briefed me on what I needed to focus on in the 8 stores that he assigned me.
Currently, I have a mix of Sainsbury and Tesco stores. I mapped out where I would be each week and what I would need to be doing in each retail store i.e. connecting with managers, reps, ULR and staff. I have also been adding information and contact details to notice boards. I have since drawn up a contact list for all the ULRs to have contact with each other for support.
I have currently recruited 3 ULRs in my area and we continue to raise the profile of the lifelong learning team and Usdaw.
I have attended a ULR training course in Haywards Health giving me the chance to meet a group of new ULRs including the individuals I had recruited. The provider delivering the course also delivers Functional Skills in my area. I have arranged to visit Southampton City College to discuss future courses.
I have spent a day with Chhaya in Croydon, London, as she is fully established within the area as a MULR. This was a great opportunity to see how she spends her day, the relationship she has with stores/colleagues etc. She also offered invaluable advice for the best way to start out, what worked and what failed when she started.
Having taken Chhaya’s advice on board I am now on the way to setting up IT courses in September. I have also been in contact with the Digital Champions within Tesco Distribution centre and Learning Curve who are offering English courses, among others. I am awaiting details to be sent from a company that teaches British Sign Language as we have had a lot of interest in learning this skill, especially from individuals that work on checkouts.
I enjoyed attending the TUC Union Learn Conference in London, which gave a great insight into learning availability across the country and it was great to see Usdaw reps winning awards for their hard work.