(Scroll down for our impressive member testimonials!)
Dozens of our branch members have already benefitted from our fantastic Branch Education Fund. The fund has enabled our members to learn and develop many new skills, and even helped some to launch a second career.
One member used the fund to pay for a yoga teacher training course which she had always wanted to do. Another member used the fund to apply for a post-graduate course at the University of Cambridge, where she’s now studying for a Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching Creative Writing.
She explains: “The education fund meant that I was able to apply for a postgraduate course at the University of Cambridge. The course is in an area I’ve been working in for years, but without a formal qualification. At last, I’m having the opportunity to study a subject I love, a PG Cert in Teaching Creative Writing. After years out of University I’m getting to be a student again, learning new things, and at the end of it, I’ll have a new qualification. I would not have been able to even apply for this course without the education fund.”
The fund helped another of our members to pay for a weekend Introduction to Counselling Skills course which was a prerequisite to enable her to apply and ultimately be successful in enrolling on a Postgraduate Certificate in Interpersonal and Counselling Skills, alongside her job.
Branch Secretary Angela Blackburn explains: “Our Branch Education Fund is there for all members of the UNISON University of Leeds branch, regardless of their grade or role. Members can apply quickly and easily to the fund, which is open all year round.
“The courses our members choose can be almost anything – learning a language, acting, dancing, art, writing, yoga, counselling, learning an instrument, singing, cooking – the possibilities are virtually endless! As long as the course is not work-related, then the branch will consider funding it*.”
To apply to the fund, all members need to do is complete a simple form and return it to the branch by post or email. The branch then pays the fees directly to the institution or tutor to cover all or part of any non-work-related course. If a member has already paid for a course, the branch will consider reimbursing all, or part of, their fees.
To apply for the Branch Education Fund simply download, complete and return the form below to: email@example.com
*There are funding limits in place:
Level 1 (and below) – up to £125
Level 2 – up to £250
Level 3 – £350
Still Not Sure? Have a Look at our Members’ Testimonials!
“I was so pleased that the Branch Education Fund were able to help me with the fees towards my Yoga Teacher Training Course. It is something I had always wanted to do – but the courses are really expensive and I was nervous about committing to it. Getting some help towards this gave me the impetus to put myself down for the course and get started. The process was really easy too. I haven’t finished the course yet – but it has already been such a great learning experience that has given me something outside of the usual work / home / kids environment to focus on. So, thank you very much.”
“I’m extremely grateful for Unison’s Education Fund which paid for me to attend a weekend Introduction to Counselling Skills course which was a prerequisite to enable me to apply and ultimately be successful in enrolling on a Postgraduate Certificate in Interpersonal and Counselling Skills, alongside my job. The costs of the course are substantial so to have this contribution towards this made such a difference and the course itself was really enjoyable and I learnt a lot and met some lovely people that I am still in touch with. The fund has also previously paid for me to do an evening photography course over a number of weeks in which I learnt lots of technical skills about how to use my camera, in an area of personal interest to me. I wouldn’t have been able to attend without the help of this fund.”
“I benefited from receiving the Union Branch Education Funding. As it has helped me to carry learning my language course in Spanish. In the past I’ve paid out for course and not received any form of funding. I was introduced to the UBEF, by the union rep at my workplace. I hope the scheme continues as it’s an opportunity for employees to develop new skills and enhance their learning.”
“I’ve accessed the UNISON Branch Education Fund several times over the past few years, each for the same thing – multi-class yoga passes for different yoga studies in Leeds. I have always loved yoga and have taken advantage of free classes with gym memberships and pop-up free classes at churches and town halls. However, as this was on an ad-hoc basis, and the classes were based on general entry-level yoga, I couldn’t progress, learn about or try different types of yoga and more specialised classes. So far, I have had 4 yoga passes from Unison, at 2 different specialist Yoga studios. I attend two classes at my current studio every week, and have been able to try Hot Vinyasa Flow, Ashtanga and Yin Yoga. I have become much stronger and more flexible, and found that Yoga massively reduced my stress and anxiety. I would recommend the Branch Education Fund to everyone. It was very straightforward to apply for, and UNISON handled the payment with the studios very promptly.”
“The education fund meant that I was able to apply for a postgraduate course at the University of Cambridge. The course is in an area I’ve been working in for years, but without a formal qualification. At last, I’m having the opportunity to study a subject I love, a PGCert in Teaching Creative Writing. After years out of University I’m getting to be a student again, learning new things, and at the end of it, I’ll have a new qualification. I would not have been able to even apply for this course without the education fund. What I didn’t realise is that to get into Cambridge, not only do you need a good application, but you also need £70. It costs that amount just to apply. When I first saw the course, I was out of work. We were in the depths of the pandemic and I had no idea how long it would take me to find another job. There was no way I could have afforded to apply. Luckily, UNISON’s education fund was on hand to give me the financial help I needed to apply for this life-changing course.”
“I am currently still on the course the fund supported this year and I’m finding it fascinating. I am taking a MSc level module in Silviculture (Forestry) and it has reduced the financial pressure of me returning to education as an adult learner. Currently I’m just enjoying the course for education but I hope at some point in the future my gained knowledge will be beneficial to me (and hopefully the planet). I’m super grateful the fund exists – thank you for facilitating.”
“I had a bit of a unique experience with the fund as I’d planned to do the course before my daughter was born and then she showed up a month and half early so I did get to experience it in full. But I would say that I used the fund to access a creative writing course, and that without the fund, there is no way I could have afforded it. It was definitely a challenge, but I have learned some new skills and I’m a little more confident in my hobby and feel a lot less like an imposter. Because it isn’t work related it helps you to appreciate that UNISON cares about your work-life balance and wants members to learn and have fun outside of a work environment. It was just nice to be able to commit time to something that wasn’t work or that I had to figure out how to monetise. The Union paying for the course meant I appreciated more as a means in itself and not as means to make ends meet. When the next set of funding opens I’ll be looking for find another course to go one, maybe one that is more sociable now the pandemic is easing up.”
“I paid part of the fees for the course Chemistry for Conservators as I’m interested in textile conservation and archiving. I wanted to get into archiving many years ago but couldn’t afford to work on an intern basis. I had volunteered at archives from time to time but always on a short-term basis. Now I am doing this course I will be volunteering at the Yorkshire Fashion Archive from January on an ongoing basis and will be qualified to retrain as a textile conservator or at least enjoy a fulfilling volunteer position. If it wasn’t for the fund I don’t think I would be able to have completed this course for a long time and may have missed an opening for help at the archive. Thanks to UNISON for bringing me a step closer to working in the area I’ve always dreamed of!”
“The course that I recently did for the Hula Hoop Teacher Training has made a huge difference to me. I would have really struggled to afford the course without the help from the UNISON fund. It has meant that I can continue my hula hooping hobby even further by teaching evening classes in my local area – introducing more people to the benefits of hula hooping as a hobby and for fitness, and has meant that I’ve met new people near me. It’s really given me a drive to do more with my hobby outside work and is getting me exercising more and getting out of the house – something that’s been great now that I’m working from home.”