Sweeping away illiteracy
A centre that has helped hundreds of street sweepers and refuse collectors learn to read and write is to open to the public. Dagenham’s Frizlands learning centre was set up three years ago to help staff improve levels of literacy.
Manager Mickey Neale noticed some of his staff had problems completing their rounds because they were struggling to read and write.
“I knew there were key skill issues with the workforce … operational issues … for example a crew would go out [but]… they didn't know from the sheet where they should be - they just had to memorise it”
“[So] when drivers were changed due to holiday, if they couldn't read and write then we'd get complaints because jobs were being missed”.
Mickey worked with council bosses and trade unions, and came up with the idea of building the learning centre.
The centre’s since had more than 400 students through its’ doors.
It’s located in Dagenham's environmental services depot, and offers recognised NVQ qualifications for staff- many of whom had left school unable to read and write at all.
When Mark Roberston started taking courses he was working as a street sweeper. Now he's a manager. He says the experience has changed his life: "When I started sweeping the streets I never thought I could make my way up. But my confidence just built up and up through doing the training.”
He added: “I know people that I'm working with right now as managers that couldn't even read and write. They're sitting next to me now writing emails, they're managers… It’s fantastic”
Now anyone living in Barking & Dagenham can take courses at the centre by simply getting in touch with the local council.
If you're interested in finding out more about the courses you can call Mickey Neale and his team at the council on London on 020 8215 3000.
last updated: 28/12/2007 at 12:35