Life as a ULR

Union Learning Reps (ULRs) are a valued piece of the PCS jigsaw in workplaces, but the role is sometimes less understood than others.

While they’re often assisting colleagues in fulfilling their potential at work, ULRs are also there to help people embrace lifelong learning on any topic – whether they need it for work, life, or purely for the joy and benefit of learning something new.

We talked to five ULRs about why they do the role, what it involves and what kinds of initiatives they’re involved in at their workplaces.


Nick Hobbs, Home Office Merseyside branch: ‘I love helping my colleagues seize learning opportunities’
Nick has been heavily influenced by his own journey into higher education, as a mature student. His work includes assisting apprentices with their development, and helping enrol 30 branch members in professional development courses ranging from leadership, to mental health awareness, to IT. Read more

Stella Perrett, PINS Bristol branch: ‘Managers are more open to engaging with me as a ULR’
Stella became a ULR in June 2017 and has already grabbed the role with both hands, including organising events and one-to-one discussions with colleagues about their learning aims. She’s been nominated for this year’s PCS organising and communicating awards. Read more

Nigel Cawley, HMRC Salford Revenue branch: ‘We help people survive in an ever-changing working environment’
Nigel was also drawn to the ULR role because he’d realised, later in life, that his lack of education was impacting on him. Their branch holds regular learning events and drop-in sessions, as well as creative writing sessions, and guided tours with local museums and galleries. Read more

Lorna Kennedy, DWP Fylde branch: ‘Learning has a positive effect in the workplace’
Lorna has organised an annual Learning At Work day in her office for the last nine years. After the last one, 10 members went on to do fully-funded NVQ level 3 courses in business admin, and PCS organised paid time off for them to go to college. Read more

Shaun Sullivan, HMRC Liverpool branch: ‘Our work has made people see the union in a different light’
Shaun’s involvement in union learning started with a chat with a single mum who’d returned from maternity leave and was looking for a career boost… then snowballed. He’s since helped put around 500 members through accountancy training.

Find out more - get involved:

  • PCS receives funding from the TUC’s Union Learning Fund, which has helped hundreds of thousands of workers, with the support of ULRs:
  • PCS helps members access lifelong learning, GSCE maths and english revision, and trade union education:

For more on Union Learning Reps (ULRs):
TUC Union Learn

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