Case Study Profile

South Tyneside Healthcare Branch


One of the strengths of the Bridges to Learning project is the team of ULRs, as their different job roles, backgrounds and experience result in a range of strategies and approaches in engaging learners. So when Hazel joined the team in January 2013 she added new strengths to an already impressive team.

As an experienced UNISON activist and chair of the branch at South Tyneside NHS Foundation Trust, Hazel quickly became part of the team in bringing the employer on board with the Bridges to Learning project. She knew too that, once this commitment had been secured, the networks she had with staff in every ward through her job as a phlebotomist at South Tyneside Hospital would give her a head start in reaching learners.
Completing her ULR training in February 2013, Hazel had her work cut out to fulfil her ambition to have a project launch and host Adult Learners week in the Trust. Her enthusiasm and determination meant that not only did her launch take place as planned but that she also drew on the lessons from Bridges to Learning in other workplaces and on her knowledge of the concerns of others like herself in Band 2 jobs across the Trust.

The launch provided access to a range of learning opportunities, eyebrow threading to workshops about credit and loansharks, as well as a one-stop shop of sources of information for potential learners, including the hospital library, the South Tyneside happiness and Wellbeing Team, the chaplain, The Trust’s Training and Development team and the Credit Union.

Building on this success, Hazel has run a number of roadshows in the Trust’s sites and her Adult Learning Week workshops on Dyslexia Awareness and Welfare Reform attracted staff, including nurses from the Discharge team, who were interested not just for their own knowledge but so that they could also advise patients on leaving hospital.

Despite this increased workload, Hazel has decided to continue with her own learning and is half way through her ECDL qualification, as she knows she needs to improve her ICT skills to be even more effective as a ULR. She knows too that this applies to many of her colleagues who do not get the chance to use ICT on a regular basis in their jobs.

As a result, Hazel has recently succeeded in setting up a meeting with the Trust’s Head of ICT, the Training and Development Team and UK Online to explore delivering ICT skills for hospital staff as demand is so high. So, despite Hazel’s late arrival to the Bridges to Learning project a lot has been achieved in a few short months:

“You could say that I’m the new kid on the block but the other Bridges to Learning project team and ULRs have been so fantastic in passing on their knowledge and experiences and the Trust is so supportive that I think we can make real progress in bringing learning to our colleagues over the coming months.”

“You could say that I’m the new kid on the block but the other Bridges to Learning project team and ULRs have been so fantastic in passing on their knowledge and experiences and the Trust is so supportive that I think we can make real progress in bringing learning to our colleagues over the coming months.” - Hazel

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