Learning project supporting public service workers through Covid wins first prize

The team credited with ensuring all care workers across Wales could access free Covid-infection control training early in the pandemic, has been commended at the Inspire Adult Learning Awards.

The UNISON Wales Union Learning Fund project (WULF) shared first prize in the ‘Skills at Work’ Inspire! Award for its commitment to supporting the self-development of Wales public sector staff at the time they needed it most, at the Inspire ceremony last week.

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, more than 2,500 care worker, NHS employees, school support staff, police community support officers and other key workers from all parts of Wales have been supported by UNISON through a wide range of learning opportunities such as webinars, e-learning and grants.

These include ‘Resilience’ and ‘Secondary & vicarious trauma’ courses for Denbighshire Council’s rapid Covid-19 redeployment pool, ‘Aspiring manager’ courses for Ceredigion care workers and British Sign Language courses for NHS staff.

Jenny Griffin, UNISON Cymru Wales learning officer, said:

“From those early, terrifying days of Covid, UNISON has been doing everything it can to support Welsh public service workers as they continued to deliver vital services to our communities.

“As the pandemic hit, public service workers were under enormous pressure as demand for certain services hugely increased. NHS, care workers, school support staff, police community support officers and others, had to learn new ways of doing their jobs safely.

“We quickly adapted our training. Pre-Covid, our courses were delivered face-to-face in classrooms and offices across Wales. That changed overnight. Moving to virtual learning was an incredible challenge. Now our training can be accessed by workers no matter where they live and we are very proud to have helped so many people at such a critical time.”

Richard Speight, UNISON Cymru Wales learning officer, said:

“Many care workers in the private or non-profit sectors don’t benefit from the same support and training council employed care workers receive. Similarly, other low-paid public service workers, such as teaching assistants, don’t have the development opportunities offered to higher paid colleagues. That’s where UNISON steps in.

“Normally, we provide our learners with essential skills like literacy, but we’ve expanded our remit with Covid to help equip them with the tools they need to do their job in the crisis, as well as keeping their professional development up-to-date.

“We’ve noticed, especially during the pandemic, learning is central to mental health and wellbeing. It doesn’t always have to be learning something related to your job role or that you need to use every day – it’s about giving people a boost and showing that they’re valued by both their employer and trade union.”

The awards, held on Thursday 16 September help to promote this week’s Adult Learners’ Week From 20 – 26 September, adults across Wales can access taster sessions and courses, as well as case studies which show learning a new skill can transform your life.

Notes for editors

  • Watch a short video which showcases some of the fine work of the UNISON learning team, produced by the Learning and Work Institute specially for the award ceremony
  • The UNISON WULF Project aims to increase the skills, confidence, wellbeing, and employability of the public service workforce across Wales.
  • The UNISON WULF Project was one of 12 winners recognised at the 2021 Inspire! Awards on 16 September. UNISON shared first prize with Nursing Students of the Open University in Wales and The Wallich
  • Co-ordinated by the Learning and Work Institute, with support from the Welsh Government and the European Social Fund, the Inspire! Awards recognise those who have demonstrated a commitment to lifelong learning, building confidence and developing vibrant and successful communities.


Alastair Gittins, UNISON Cymru Wales press officer on 07816 53 83 97