I had life-long difficulties with reading and writing, which I finally overcame as an adult, thanks to the support of my union. Improving my essential skills has been nothing short of life changing – it was like being let out of a cage.
I left school without being able to read or write confidently and spent most of my adult life just ‘getting by’ or avoiding situations where I could be exposed. I couldn’t pick up and read a book or a newspaper like other people. I also had great difficulty with writing.
In my 40s, I was redeployed from a manual role into a more technical role. I panicked when I realised I’d no longer be able to get by with the skills levels I had.
So I turned to my union learning rep for support. The union arranged one-to-one training to help me improve my essential skills, for which I’ve now got recognised qualifications.
There’s a lot of stigma around adult literacy and many people will be uncomfortable talking about it. But it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done. It’s made such a difference that I’m now able to read and understand text clearly.
It’s made a difference to my whole family too. My wife now goes to college and I’ve been able to help her with the course. And I can help my daughter with her homework and offer advice on writing ideas, which previously I would never have done.
I was very lucky to have a supportive union – GMB. That’s why I now volunteer as a GMB Union Learning Rep, so I can help other people in my workplace access learning opportunities too.
My experience is proof that it really is never too late to learn new skills. I’m now happy to go on a new course even if I don’t know anyone. Thanks to the courses I’ve met lots of new people and made new friends. I’ve got so much more confidence and the qualifications I’ve gained have opened up new opportunities for me.