Trade union learning "reignited" my passion for learning says BFAWU’s Sarah Woolley

Sarah Woolley joined the BFAWU when she started working for Bakers Oven as a weekend assistant. Last October Sarah was elected to be the next General Secretary of the union. Union learning has been an important part of Sarah’s journey.

BFAWU General Sectrety Sarah Woolley

Sarah said that the she wasn’t very active as a member in the beginning, but taking a trade union course changed all that, as she explains.

The union branch wasn’t very visible and for a number of years I was a dormant subs paying member with little knowledge or interest in becoming active!”

Greggs took us over when I was around 21 and it was just after this that I became a shop steward. That’s when I attended my first trade union course – Shop Stewards stage 1 and my passion for education was re-ignited. From that course I was hooked, going on to complete the other two shop stewards courses, the GFTU’s Negotiating Skills, Public Speaking and Advanced Employment Law courses”

After doing all these courses she was elected to be a full time official in region 5 and, whilst in this role, Sarah started working alongside the learning services promoting and also doing courses herself. She couldn’t praise our work enough.

Sarah went on to say:

Our union, like many others, has a whole section of people dedicated to education and helping other people learn. We have project workers supported by union learner representatives who enter the workplace and initially help members recognise and understand their learning needs. This can be in English, Maths, ICT and even help to write a CV.”

Personally, the courses I would recommend to anyone wanting to help people to develop are Equality and Diversity, Information Advice and Guidance, and Mental Health Awareness as they give you the tools to be able to identify situations and deal with them whilst also giving you a different outlook on issues we all face daily but aren’t sure how to overcome them. There is plenty of support available on the courses from the tutor, ULRs and project workers so you can’t get stuck!”

Sarah believes the courses she had received through BFAWU Learning Services helped her personally and professionally and gave her the confidence to join the chase to become the new General Secretary of the union, which she subsequently went on to win, starting her new role in January working alongside Ronnie Draper.