A union member has taken home a top award for introducing hundreds of colleagues to learning.

USDAW member Jonathan Waterhouse was awarded Union Learning Rep (URL) of the Year today (Tuesday) in a ceremony at TUC Congress, in London.

Jonathan, who works on the Penguin biscuit production line for McVitie’s in Manchester, gained his own literacy and numeracy qualifications after training as a ULR.

He said: “If you’ve got someone who is in his 50s with no qualifications and you try to interest them in English and maths, it needs to be in an environment where they feel relaxed – and I think we’ve cracked that, because our learners have achieved more than 150 Skills for Life qualifications.”

Jonathan and his nine fellow ULRs have encouraged 150 colleagues to take up the myguide beginner computer courses, he runs the Reading Agency’s Six Book Challenge and has established an NVQ programme which has led to 100 McVitie’s workers gaining Level 2 qualifications.

John Hannett, Usdaw general secretary, said: “By promoting lifelong learning they have given hundreds of their members a second chance to improve their skills, increase their confidence, and enhance their employment prospects.”

Brendan Barber, TUC general secretary, said: “Millions of workers up and down the country have benefited from the fantastic work done by union reps in thousands of branches.”

Also recognised for their work were: Congress Award for Youth Nick Parker, PCS (from Lincoln); Organising Award Anas Ghaffar, USDAW (from Slough, Berkshire); Safety Rep Award Clifford Mayor, UCATT (from Wigan);

Women’s Gold Badge Evelyn Martin, GMB (from Stoke Newington, London).

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