♡ UNISON: the union launched me on a learning journey

Sometimes, the first step is the hardest, but once you’ve made it, the climb gets a little easier with each step you take

Louise Evans, organisational development officer


I left school at the age of 14 with no qualifications as I never sat my GCSE – I was a very rebellious teenager!

I had my daughter at the age of 19, which was a turning point for me – but getting a decent paid job with no qualifications is near impossible.

I took an NVQ2 admin course at college and went to work in GP surgeries, where my inquisitive nature kicked in and I moved between roles.

I started working for the council in July 2009 as an organisational development assistant and was fortunate to work with UNISON ULRs [union learning reps], who encouraged me to do my level two adult literacy and numeracy in 2010, which is when thirst for learning began.

I went on to do a level three in learning and development in 2013 and was promoted to organisational development officer.

This is also when I became a ULR and completed stage one and two, putting me in a unique position, combined with my work role, to be able to help others  start their learning journey.

I became lead ULR in January 2014 and began the digital champion project with the help of branch, ULF and UnionLearn funding, which is still going strong.

2015 was a big year for me: not only did I become branch education officer, I also graduated in October 2015, Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development level 5 in applied human resources.

I never ever thought I’d get to graduate. I also did my level two English, maths and ICT functional skills – I like to know what’s entailed in the learning I’m promoting and it’s helps me to relate to the learners.

Doing a level five qualification while working full-time, with three young children wasn’t easy and I said ‘never again’.

By November 2015, I was already looking for my next learning mountain to conquer and I start an Institute of Leadership and Management leadership and management qualification this month.

My life has improved in so many different ways since my learning journey began and I owe some of that to the ULRs that invested their time at the very start.

Sometimes, the first step is the hardest, but once you’ve made it, the climb gets a little easier with each step you take.