Jackie Heron is branch learning co-ordinator for the DWP north Merseyside branch. After attending a two-day PCS training course on Understanding Pensions she set up a course for the members of her branch.
I attended a two day PCS Understanding Pensions course in 2017 which I found to be extremely informative. As a result I asked PCS if there was a possibility of courses being run just for staff in my branch.
I spoke to Ann Ainsworth in the PCS north west regional office in Liverpool and she agreed it was a good idea. Dave McMonnies from the TUC education unit had developed the course and was the tutor, so Ann put me in touch with him to see if it was possible.
I approached the members asking for expressions of interest. There was a lot of interest throughout the branch, however, there were some problems with staff being released for the two day course, especially those in the service centre. I contacted Dave to see if the course could be tailored to one day, making it more accessible for staff, which he agreed to.
Two thirds of the staff who expressed an interest in the course were from the service centre so the branch chair and I had discussions with management to explain the benefits of the course for staff. I also explained that we had approached PCS who had tailored the course to one day recognising that two days would have a greater impact on the business. Management agreed to the one-day course and the release of all the staff who had expressed an interest.
PCS also agreed that members could claim reasonable expenses for the course, which was helpful for the staff who attended.
Help to make better choices
I feel that the course has been a great benefit to members. Knowledge is power and when you understand your pension you can make better and more informed choices about the future. Changes in the state retirement age for men and women have impacted on our members and we hear a lot about pensions and how people are given misadvice which then leads to financial hardship later on.
The feedback from staff after they attended the course was excellent. Staff agreed that the information provided in the course enabled them to plan for the future and provide them with options for reducing hours to maintain a work/life balance in the future.
The support I received from PCS made this course possible.