GMB help Fode continue learning through the lockdown

GMB member Fode Sano had been developing his skills in a union learning centre, but the lockdown resulted in its temporary closure. However, with the help of GMB Project Worker Vince Board, Fode has taken his learning online and continues to flourish.

GMB member Fode Sano

Fode was born in Guinea Bissau on the West coast of Africa, and with his family soon moved to Senegal. He didn’t exactly have the start to education that we so easily take for granted in the UK, receiving no formal education as a young boy.

As a teenager he moved to Portugal and after teaching himself basic French, Portuguese, Arabic and another local African language Fode started his first job as a labourer on construction sites in Portugal.

As a young man he arrived in the UK, still with no formal education and his lack of English meant the only job available was as a kitchen porter. Fode took advantage of Online learning, finding courses himself, to improve his English and job prospects and soon found a job in security.

Soon after, this cycle of upskilling himself led him to a construction job working as a carpenter at Hinkley Point C (HPC), the biggest construction project in Europe at the time.

Fode’s said,

I consider myself lucky to be working in construction which have always been my life-long dream.”

It was here that he began engaging with the Unionlearn Project team and Project Worker Vince, through a Learning Event held on site. Fode was interested firstly in English and Maths and in a number of Tutor led courses soon to begin. He was keen to get his first taste of formal education and qualifications.

Unfortunately, his knowledge of English meant he struggled with the Initial Assessment and needed further support before joining the course. Rather than give up, and with help and guidance from Vince, Fode started some courses in basic Numeracy and English to help him improve his skills and hopefully get him to a level where he could attend a tutor led course at work.

It took a new virus and a Global Pandemic to stall Fode’s learning and following lockdown he was furloughed from his job at Hinkley Point and away from the learning support that he was receiving.

On top of this his wife was expecting their second child and early in lockdown gave birth to a baby girl. Stuck in lockdown, furloughed from work with a new baby in the household; plus distanced from any learning support may not be the perfect situation to think about learning, however, Fode engaged with Vince Board again and is currently studying Everyday Maths and English offered by Openlearn.

Fode has since returned to his job at HPC and is continuing to complete his online learning.

Fode says, 

Through the help of GMB and my employer, Bylor, I am working while continuing to study for more accreditation to improve upon the experience and qualifications I have recently attained.”

Vince said:

Not even the lack of any formal education or a global pandemic can stop Fode from learning! Fode’s learning journey is still ongoing and the unionlearn Project Team are really pleased to have been able to support him achieve his potential and develop his skills.”

If you want to find out more distance learning opportunities talk to your union learning rep or check out the unionlearn [email protected] pages.