Helen aims high thanks to Return to Learn course

Healthcare assistant (HCA) and UNISON member Helen Russell has just completed the first year of her Open University (OU) BA (Hons) degree in health and social care – with help from a union course.

UNISON Learners

Helen, who works at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, built her confidence to tackle the degree by enrolling on one of UNISON’s Return to Learn courses last year.

Return to Learn is a course designed for adults that may have been away from learning for some time. Members from all walks of life and work backgrounds have benefited from Return to Learn.

The courses have proved very popular and aim to not only help members in their jobs, but also outside work with things like taking part in group activities, helping the kids with homework, getting yourself heard and finding new opportunities.

Many members go on to take qualifications in English and maths, with many, like Helen, founding it a helpful route into further and higher education.

Helen said:

I was a bit nervous that my writing and my maths skills wouldn’t be up to date, so when UNISON sent me an email flyer about Return to Learn, I thought, ‘I’ll try this first and see how it goes’.”

The course helped improve Helen’s skills and confidence.

Return to Learn helped me learn how to write essays, taught me I quite like doing research and made me feel brave enough to attempt something at university level.”

When Helen finishes the degree, she hopes it will help her progress at work, either into nursing or progressing to become an operating department practitioner (ODP).

Edna Warwick is UNISON’s Regional Learning and Development Organiser in the South West and really pleased to see the way Return to Learn is supporting members.

Edna said:

I am happy to say that following the Return to Learn course in Cornwall, including a residential weekend, people’s confidence soared and those who took part progressed in a number of ways.”

Some thought about going into business for themselves, some were going to apply for promotion in the workplace and two women took huge steps I felt.”

Helen went on to start a health and social care degree and another woman although terrified of maths during the residential weekend has now gone on to do a maths GCSE foundation course.”

Return to Learn definitely changes lives and gives people the confidence to grow and look at what they want out of life and their work.”

If as trade unions we can keep doing this work we will have more and more opportunities to change people’s lives.”