Cross Country (XC) Trains staff in Plymouth have just completed a one-day British Sign Language (BSL) course set up via the local ASLEF Union Learning Rep (ULR) David Parr. Staff at the station had informed David they would be interested in a BSL course, so he set about organising one.
The was just the latest learning activity from David, who won the ASLEF Learner of the Year Award in 2016, and consequently went on to become an ASLEF ULR supporting workers on Cross Country Trains.
It took some time to organise due to the complex shift patterns, sorting out funding, liaising with the course tutor and organising a local venue.
The BSL course ran on 23rd April 2018 in the local Railway Club. The course tutor, Louise Pocock, is from the deaf community and helped the XC attendees to appreciate the difficulties faced by deaf or partially deaf commuters when travelling on the rail network. Learners were able to learn British Sign Language including greetings and introductions, the time and weather and providing directions and travel info etc.
All learners successfully gained an accredited qualification at Level 1, and Cross Country helped to fund the course - but learners attended in their own time.
Nine learners attended the course in Plymouth and feedback has been very positive. Following the Plymouth course, one of the learners was able to use her new skills the very next day to support some deaf people travelling on an XC service.
Gemma Williams really enjoyed the course and was immediately able to use sign language whilst working on a train. She noticed two women signing to each other and was able to communicate with them when serving them. Gemma said that it felt ‘amazing’ to be able to do this after attending her course only the day before.
The Plymouth course follows on from another Union Learning BSL course run for XC and WMT staff in Birmingham at The Wedge Learning Centre (BNS station) in November 2017.
Graham Chesters is a Project Worker with ASLEF Education and said:
Established over 15 years ago, Union Learning has enabled thousands of workers to benefit from learning opportunities in the workplace.”
British Sign Language has proved very popular with our members but is just one of the many courses that the union, and ULR’s, organise. At Cross Country Trains over 40 employees have completed Level 2 distance-learning courses promoted via their ULRs. There is also a computer course running at the learning centre in New Street station for those that would like to improve their ICT skills.”
A further course is planned for Bristol in June/July 2018 and ASLEF is offering more 12 week courses that will start again from September – and David is keen to encourage interested members to contact their local ULR if interested.