‘Learning underpins everything for us’ An interview with Emma Lipscombe

‘Learning underpins everything for us’


Building a stronger trade union

We are pleased to carry below an interview with Emma Lipscombe, who works for UNISON’s Learning and Organising Services. Emma gives a brilliant insight in to the work of UNISON in this area. If you want to find out more or to get involved please get in touch! Details are at the bottom of this article.

Emma, could you tell us a bit about your role in UNISON and the work of your team

I work in the member development section of Learning and Organising Services, this means that we try to develop learning which is available to all members. We also have an activist development section who develop our courses for stewards, health and safety reps etc.

My particular areas are working with Union learning reps, working with the Open University and skills for life, – English , maths and IT. This involves supporting branches and regions practically if they are setting up skills for life courses, developing links with providers, sharing information and developing resources such as the new Read anytime anywhere and  Making every penny count

Could you explain a little bit about why UNISON puts a lot of emphasis on learning? What are the benefits?

Learning underpins everything for us, trade unions are about making working people’s lives better, as well as terms and conditions this also means access to opportunities you may not have had previously. Learning helps people be more confident and involved in their work, community and the union.

What support is there for members who want to develop themselves?

A first starting point is speaking to a learning rep, they will be able to advise and sign post in a tailored way depending on what people are after.  In the West Midlands you also have regional courses  and there is more information and application for learning grants here

What is Kickstart and how can members get a Learning Grant?

Kickstart is what we call our funding, up to £250, to support learning. There are targets and restrictions, a typical application would be for refreshments and possibly room hire for a learning event. The learning could be aimed at members and non members.  If anyone is interested in making an application there are regional and national staff available who can advise and support.

Would you recommend and encourage members to become a Workplace Learning Rep?

I started out 10 years ago as a Steward and a ULR in Newcastle local government so I would say yes! The role built my confidence, opened up opportunities for me and my colleagues. You can do as much or as little as you want and the satisfaction from being able to help and support colleagues, friends and members in the workplace is huge! But don’t just take my word for it click here to find out what UNISON members say about it!

Thank you Emma for taking the time to talk to us. We would encourage UNISON members to get involved and if you are reading this and you are not a UNISON member then join us! If you are interested or would like more information please email paul.hunt@unisoncoventry.co.uk or mike.wallace@unisoncoventry.co.uk

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