From the TUC

Hasmita’s confidence grew on a union course – #heartunions

10 Feb 2017, By

8th – 14th February 2017 is #heartunions week, celebrating the great work unions do, and paying tribute to the reps who are an important part of that. The Unsung Heroes series is running all week, sharing stories from reps and members about how being part of their union has impacted their lives.

Hasmita, a nursery nurse and UNISON member, quickly realised the value of being part of a union.

“I joined UNISON as soon as I started working full-time. Then, because of a re-structure, we were told we’d have to re-apply for our jobs and it was a horrible time for everyone. One day, a manager could tell I was panicked and said: “I have only one thing to say to you Hasmita, UNISON.”

“So I made a phone call to UNISON and they told me to leave it with them. All I can say, is I didn’t have to re-apply for my job in the end. I’d always thought a union was just there to help when you had trouble at work – and they did help me, but I wasn’t aware they ran free education and development opportunities for their members, until a Union Learning Rep came to talk to us at work and suggested lots of courses. I was interested in finding out more and after picking up a leaflet, I decided to apply for the Women’s Lives course.”

Later in her career, Hasmita knew that she wanted to take her love of learning and education further

“I’ve been a Nursery Nurse at my local primary school in Leicester for 16 years; I’ve supported children who are new to English, supported the Year 1 class teacher, covering as and when and, because I have a GCSE in Guajarati, I’ve translated when there have been problems with language – every day is different! I really enjoy watching the children progress through the school, seeing how much they develop and grow as they learn.

“As a child, I really loved school and I enjoyed going to college too. After my education finished, I started working full-time in a day nursery and as a full-time nanny; I also did a temporary job and supply work! After being in my current job for around six years, I made a request to be able to go and do some further study. My Head Teacher was very supportive and I went and did the Foundation Degree in Educational Studies part-time at Leicester University whilst working full-time at the school. I could have gone on to do a top up degree to become a qualified teacher, but I decided not to do it at that time and maybe think about doing it at some point in the future.”

And thanks to the courses at UNISON, she made friends as she learned, and her confidence grew.

“It was quite frightening to go back to education, but the UNISON Women’s Lives course helped me to gain confidence. It was easy to make new friends and the nice thing is we’ve stayed in touch. On the course itself, I had to complete three projects which were all about me and my experiences – doing that first piece of writing was quite daunting, but it felt really good once I got into it.

“I liked being in a group of people who were happy to listen to you, share ideas, learn together and give you moral support. You get into that same old routine don’t you? Work, home, same old thing day in, day out and your brain freezes; you don’t know what’s going on around you. Well, doing the Women’s Lives course was an eye opener for me and I’ve done a few short UNISON courses since.”

And the next step for Hasmita? She’s getting even more involved in the union.

“The next big thing for me is I’m going to become a Union Learning Rep! I didn’t used to speak up before, I just sat back and listened to others, but now, whilst I’m happy to listen and respect other people’s ideas, I’m also happy to raise my hand and express my own opinions and views. I would encourage any UNISON member to go on the courses. There are positive things waiting for them, so take the chance. Learning is amazing!”

The big aim for #heartunions week is to encourage more people to join a union. Please share this page with friends, colleagues and neighbours. If we each get one person to join a union this week, we’ll be well on the way to getting a better deal for working people all year round.

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