Unites Simon is on the road to better skills – thanks to the union.

Simon Hunneybel, is 44 and has worked nights as a HGV driver for Sainsburys in Waltham Abbey in Essex for nearly 13 years. He never felt he had to worry too much about developing his skills, but his growing family resulted in revaluating this – and his union was there to help.

Unite help Simon build his skills

Simon said:

I live with my wife and 3 kids and enjoy my work driving as it is varied day to day. Because of my job and what I do, I`ve never really had to worry that much about my reading etc because of the training we are given, plus there’s always someone to help me here at Sainsburys.”

Simons family is growing, and he found the need to help his youngest boy with his homework. He would come home from school with books and he would find some of the questions hard and obviously turn to Simon or his mum.

Simon felt uncomfortable with this role as he explained:

I’ve suffered with dyslexia all my life and left school with no qualifications. School work was always an obstacle for me so I never really got my teeth into school or the work that comes with it because of the dyslexia.”

This changed in 2016 when Simon heard Sainsburys had an Open Learning Centre. Simon decided to pop into to the Waltham Point Learning Centre to see if he could somehow improve on his maths and English, and to help his boy with his homework.

Stuart Turner is the Unite Union Learning Rep (ULR) at the site and was very helpful, telling Simon that they have English and Maths courses during the day. However once Simon explained that it could be a problem as he worked nights, Stuart suggested distance learning.

Simon takes up the story: 

For a while, it worked. but I needed more 1-to-1 help so decided to do the course after my shift ended. The course had its own dedicated teacher from CONEL college (College Of North East London) and the teacher would come in every Wednesday for most of the working day to teach 3 different classes.”

Two years on Simon has passed his Level 1 & 2 in Maths and has even become a Union Learner Rep himself.

Simon said: 

I decided to become a ULR to help other colleagues and spread the word about Sainsburys Learner Centre as I know there are many Older/Non English speaking colleagues at Sainsburys that aren’t as forthcoming as I was.”

We run a confidential service at Sainsburys Learner centre and all ULR`s are there to help those who need it.”

Micky Herbert is a Regional Learning Organiser with Unite in the South East.

Micky said:

Sainsbury ULRs have been championing the learning cause for nineteen years now, the self-development of ULRs has been instrumental.”

Hundreds of learners have been through the Sainsbury learning centre achieving their goals in Maths, English, ITQ, Photography, reading clubs etc, with the help and guidance of the ULRs and excellent tuition from the tutors of The College of Haringey, Enfield & North East London. And may it continue!”

Simon is very glad he took the opportunity offered through the union, and walked through the door at the Learning Centre:

I’m now a happier man as I can help my youngest with his homework, sometimes I get stuck but we all do don’t we? As we get older we all say “I Wish I learnt more while at school” but now you can.”

Distance Learning is a great tool to start you Just got to keep going!”