Busy week of learning for Congress House staff

With both Learning at Work and Mental Health Awareness Week taking place during the same week in May Union Learning Reps and Mental Health First Aiders at the TUC decided to pull out all the stops to offer staff at Congress House a selection of lunchtime and evening activities.

TUC tour
Staff discover their inner Indiana Jones in the little seen depths of the Congress House

Congress House staff had the chance to check out art exhibitions, go for a history work or try out a Pilates taster thanks to the organising team of Helen Bilton, Marie Hughes, Lianne Warnell and Jane Warwick.

Lianne said:

We decided to encourage all TUC staff at Congress House to join us for Learning at Work and Mental Health Awareness Week and put together a schudle of activities to take place throughout the week.”

Some were hosted by external organisations either at lunch or early evening that anyone can go along to, others are being held in Congress House or online. These were advertised through our internal Workplace system with events set up so staff could register their interest.”

The week kicked off on the Monday with Bee Midtown Free Guided Walk from Bee Midtown called Suffragette City that visited several sites in Holborn and Bloomsbury linked to the struggle for votes for women.

On the Tuesday history, mental health and art took centre stage as a group strolled to the British Museum to see their current Munch Exhibition. This offered a chance to explore the artist’s life and discover The Scream, considered one of art's most haunting and iconic faces, along with largest show of Munch prints seen in the UK for 45 years. That afternoon a small group headed to the TUC Library Collections at London Metropolitan University to find some of the hidden gems in the TUC’s extensive collection.

The TUC offices host weekly Pilates sessions, and on Wednesday staff were given the chance to find out more with a 30 min lunchtime taster lesson, whilst in the afternoon many sat down to a practical webinar from TUC Education explaining how to make the most of Facebook and Twitter.

Congress House, as well as being home to the TUC, is a fascinating building and on Thursday staff had a chance to go on a “magical mystery building tour” discovering parts of Congress House they never knew existed, including a “legendary” underground river as part of a behind the scenes tour with Estates Manager Helen Bilton. Then it was off after work to a visit to the “Smoke And Mirrors” exhibition just up the road from Congress House at the Wellcome Collection. The exhibition explored what magic and conjuring can tell us about the human mind and brings together the worlds of psychology and entertainment in search of the truth about deception.

The week wrapped up in the way it started with a guided walk from Bee Midtown, this time called Holborn United
. With The FA Cup Final taking place the next day the walk explored sites in Holborn from the history of football.

The packed programme proved very popular with staff, who not only had a chance to explore the area they work in, check out exhibitions and learn a skill, but also meet colleagues out of work.

Elly Gibson, TUC media officer said:

The suffragette walk was a great way to spend a lunch hour. I hadn’t realised how much of note had happened on our doorstep! The guide was excellent, and I came away feeling like I had really learned something. Would be keen to do another local historical walk.”