So… it’s introduce yourself time. If you’ve been wondering who the new face is about unionlearn, it’s me Matt Pointon who’s come on-board as a Project Officer, working across the country but based mainly in the Birmingham office.
I’ve got a long history of involvement with the trade union and Labour movements, having been a rep for UCU and Community in the past. Last year though, I had the honour of working on the long-running ULF project, Youlearn, run by BSU, a finance sector union working within the Co-operative Bank and Capita. There I helped support learners across the country engage in new study opportunities and upskill themselves.
These were mostly adults working in the bank but we also did some really valuable work with local community groups like the U3A and ASHA, a refugee and asylum seeker charity. Going from visiting a bank branch one day, to teaching IT skills to the over-55s the next to helping new immigrants to the UK understand issues of sexual consent and exploitation certainly made for an interesting life and one which truly reflected the positive and holistic message that trade unionism is all about.
My experience with adult learning goes back much further than that though. As a young adult I taught English overseas in destinations as far flung as Japan, Vietnam and Bulgaria whilst back in the UK I have over nine years of experience with the justice sector, teaching adults and young people basic skills and Citizenship in prisons and YOIs. Seeing how education can impact so positively on disadvantaged groups in society is one of my main passions in life. It always gives me a buzz when I see learning opening a door for someone who had always presumed that it was locked to them.
Aside from education and trade unionism, my other passions in life include writing (I’m currently doing my MA in Creative Writing with the Open University – don’t expect others to learn if you’re not prepared to do so yourself!), reading and singing in a male voice choir. I also support Stoke City and the England cricket team and love travelling to unusual destinations. Perhaps my most surreal education experience came a couple of years ago whilst visiting one of the strangest destinations of them all, North Korea. We visited a local school and, knowing my background, I was asked to give an impromptu English lesson. Oh well, at least they all know the importance of safety in the workplace now!