Manchester staff shortlisted for national HefmA award

by Chris Cunniff

Staff Union Learning Representatives (ULRs) at NHS Property Services have been nominated for a national facilities award.

The shortlist for the 2015 HefmA Awards was announced in April, with the Union Learning Representatives being nominated for the People Development Award following their extensive programme of work to improve and develop the skills of their colleagues.

The People Development Award recognises an individual or team working in estates and facilities services who has made excellent progress in developing an effective knowledgeable team through robust learning and development initiatives.


NHS Property Services became the first national NHS organisation to sign a union learning agreement in September 2013. Following this, Mike Powell, Maintenance Craftsman for NHS Property Services recruited and developed a team of staff ULRs in the Oldham and Manchester area who are helping to give co-workers the skills and knowledge to improve their lives at work and beyond.

To date, the North region’s ULR Team has made a huge impact by developing a new IT training suite and completing a training needs assessment with feedback from over 200 members of staff.

Mike Powell said: “In addition to other training and support that is already provided by the company, I and my ULR colleagues really wanted to raise the profile of training and development, so we met with staff, sometimes during the evening, weekends and in our own time, to ensure we were able to provide the best advice and development opportunities.

“It has been a real team effort, with both URL, Unite and other union reps, working together to create worthwhile opportunities for staff.”

Mike continued: “My colleague, Sue Langley has utilised space within one of the NHS Property Services buildings in Oldham as an IT training suite for staff. Sue has now trained a variety of staff who previously had either no computer skills, or very basic IT knowledge, to check emails, input their holidays and use other online packages that have been introduced by the company.”

The team has implemented a variety of schemes to help improve staff experiences. One example includes the creation of a language guide sheet for frontline reception staff to enable them to speak basic words and phrases in other languages to help all service users when they visit health centres.

Furthermore, the ULRs have also started an ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) training programme, teaching staff whose first language is not English, how to speak and read the language more effectively.

Manchester-based ULR Monika Rostkowska, who left her native Poland to work in the UK 10 years ago, has further developed the learning offer with the help of fellow ULRs Shabana Kosser and Jon Wood. She said: “I was attracted to the ULR role because I really wanted to get involved in learning and development but I also wanted to support colleagues who are in a similar situation to me, where English is not their first language.

The awards will be presented at the Gala Awards Dinner on Thursday 14 May 2015, as part of the HefmA Annual Conference in Blackpool.