Changing lives with learning

Nick Hobbs is a ULR for the Home Office Merseyside branch in Liverpool, which has more than 1,300 members. He told us about his experiences of being a new ULR and how the courses on offer can make a real difference.

I was co-opted on the BEC after the AGM in December 2016 as a workplace rep but I soon decided that I wanted to get more involved. 

When I was at university I’d set up a society for fellow mature students and have a particular interest in developing peoples’ skills, so after talking to the branch learning co-ordinator, I decided to become a learning rep.

I went to the ULR forum in Manchester in October last year and have also been on the PCS ULR course.  Both were great in terms of the support from the tutors and the opportunity to meet other learning reps and learn from their experiences and exchange ideas.

One of my successes has been getting members signed up for the distance learning courses provided by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), which PCS members can access for free.

Since last November 17 people in my branch have signed up for the FBU courses.  I’ve done the certificate in understanding nutrition and health, am currently doing the course on understanding autism and hope to do the team leading course as well.

When you sign up for a course the FBU’s project support organiser comes out to meet you and gives you everything you need for the course: workbooks, assessment books, even prepaid envelopes for posting your work back.  All the information you need is in the books, so you don’t need a computer or the internet – the only thing you need to provide yourself is a pen!

There's a great range of subjects so there's something for everyone, whether you want to improve your computer skills or learn how to eat more healthily.  All the courses are accredited level 2 courses so you can put them on your CV and they can make a real difference to your life.

So far I’ve been talking to members face to face about the courses but with so many members and such large workplaces, my next step is to send an email to all the members in my branch with details of the courses.

I can also use the courses as a recruitment tool, as the value of the courses on offer is much more than the cost of membership.  In fact one of the people I’ve already signed up for the courses joined the union just to go on the course.


For more information on the FBU distance learning courses, contact Ann Ainsworth on 0151 298 3900 or email

Share PCS:

Visit PCS social sites: