North West PCS Team up to improve literacy

PCS Learning organisers ran a North West Literacy Event and ULR network meeting to promote reading and writing skills this June.

Online learning

The PCS event bought together Union Learning Reps from across the region to take part in sessions run by unionlearn, The Reading Agency and Feelgood Communities.

ULR’s just needed to have a pen and paper, and could dip in and out, or stay logged in for a packed day of sessions included:

  • Starting to write short stories
  • How reading improves mental health and books on prescription
  • Writing for The Spoken Word
  • Writing Fiction - The Quick Reads Brief For Authors
  • The Isolation Book Club and Writing Book Reviews
  • ULR session - Queries and support required

The event was organised by PCS North West Regional Learning Officer, Ann Ainsworth. Ann explained why she decided this to run the day, and how they adapted it to current situation.

The event was inspired by Quick Reads really.  Lots of people really enjoy seeing the new books when they come out but reading is just one part of literacy with writing being another so I wanted to do an event that incorporated that.”

Initially it was a physical event but with COVID 19 it had to be restructured to run virtually.”

Nearly 30 people registered to take part in the sessions that had been set up with Teams. To avoid attendees getting worn out they were given the choice of attending for as many of the sessions as they wanted to so they didn’t need to stay all day although many did. 

Ann said:

Allowing for people to stay all day the sessions were kept to half an hour or less with regular comfort/eye rest breaks and a lunch break. Breaking the concentration of the day and the screen time up that way enabled many people to be able to stay all day.”

One rep that took part on the day was Caroline Reid, a ULR, Branch Green Officer and Personal case rep. Caroline enjoyed the whole experience, but a couple of sessions stood out.

Caroline said:

I really enjoyed both Matt Pointon’s session on short stories and Robin Grahams on writing for the spoken word.  They were both excellent and inspiring workshop leaders using humour and getting you to think as a way to inspire.”

Their tips and ideas really helped with knowing where to start with writing as getting started is the biggest issue for me. Now I know where to start – possibly with a packet of Love Hearts!”

Caroline aims to use her new skills and hopes to start with a book review.

Caroline added:

In addition, as a ULR I think these sessions, especially once we can do face to face events will be very well received by members, so I’d put it to my branch to try to arrange some sessions.”

It was a great way to take myself out of the day to day stuff and think about something else and maybe a way to try something outside your comfort zone.”

This was a first for Ann, and it wasn’t without its challenges, but it was worth it. Ann said:

It’s a new way of working and there are disadvantages to it.  It will never be as good as running sessions where everyone is present together but it can be very convenient for people and helps those with personal challenges participate when they otherwise might not have been able to.”

Louisa Steel from Quick Reads recently wrote a blog for unionlearn about the way the books can be used to support learners.

As part of the Learning @ Home campaign unionlearn has recently launched an Isolation book club with reviews and suggestions.