Reading whilst sunbathing will make you read..

I speak English. I’m an English speaker. I like to think I understand English – or do I? I’ve grown up with English, yet when I think about it, it must be baffling for those who are learning English as a second language.

Just look at our words through the eyes of ‘Ivor Headache’…

“I know to use a comma is to take a breath. I know to use a full stop is to indicate where the sentence should end. I know capital letters sound ‘shouty’ when they’re used in text messages (and after a swift lesson from my nephews and niece, I know how to turn capitals off on my phone) – yes, I’m well over 40, so I grew up without a mobile phone superglued to my hand. I grew up having to talk to actual people. If I ever made a phone call it was with permission from my parents, and then I would get a full 2 minutes (on our posh, push button trim phone) before I was booted off (the bill you see….)
The mention of the trim phone made me think about my teenage years, which in turn made me think about teenage pressures. I was a teenager in the 80s, so the fashion was – how should I put it – interesting… yes, the fashion was interesting.
We thought we were the ‘bee’s knees’ back then with our back combed hair (because our perms weren’t quite big enough), our ‘Tucker boots’ were essential and don’t even get me started on the velvet peddle pusher suits we would wear…okay, enough said about that, the vision I’m portraying is a ‘right sight’ and I have a reputation to protect”.

Have another look at this writing and some of the words used. The English language has so many words that sound the same yet have totally different meaning.
Then there is ‘slang’ linked to local dialect and age – the words we used as teenagers when we were super cool compared to the words our parents used, which I imagine they also thought super cool when they were teenagers.
Not to mention the strange sayings we often use that make absolutely no sense yet we still understand all the same. True story; my Nana used to joke saying:
“if you get poorly you could wake up dead in the morning”.

I can almost hear my English teacher rolling her eyes at me as I speak.
Examples of everyday use of words that are either a form of slang, or have double meanings include:

1. Baffling – ‘confusing’
2. Shufty – ‘look at’
3. Know – to know something, also pronounced no as in opposite to yes.
4. To – to do something; two – as in the number; too – as well as or added on.
5. 80s – the number eight, like ate “I ate at eight”
6. Booted – ‘kicked off’, ‘removed’
7. Bees knees – ‘fabulous’, ‘wonderful’
8. Hear – listen; here – ‘here’ you are; ear – the device on the side of your head
9. They’re – they are; there – over ‘there’; their – they left ‘their’ phones at home
10. Where – a place and often asks a question’ we’re – we are; wear – to wear (as in clothing)
11. Cool – temperature; expression of something good (can also use hot!)

Hey, just a thought to ponder:
“if a cat were to meow in another country to which it was born, would other cats understand, or would there be such a thing as feline local dialect?”

“I’ll get my coat………”

Michelle Graham.


I don’t need help with Maths – I can get it wrong all on my own!

The thoughts of ‘Ivor Headache 2018’ as documented in this morning’s personal diary;

I was going to write about maths, but then I remembered that maths is for nerds, not to mention boring, why should I care to learn, I never use maths….

Well anyway, back to my day. On the way to work I needed petrol. I remember a time when I used to be able to drive to my place of work and back for £10 per week, now I’m lucky if it’s under £30 per week (that’s at least £120 per month) I mean really, that’s a staggering 300% rise in cost to me – if only my wage had risen at such a level.
Not to worry, I’ve got enough money on me today. Luckily this month I’ve managed to budget a little better, largely down to the fact that I’m spending less in other areas (who needs to eat anyway?). I really need to try harder to save money.
So, as I’m stood waiting my turn in the que at the petrol station, I’m beginning to feel agitated because there are seven people in front of me, none of whom appear to be in any hurry. This is taking ages. Yes, I admit I’m pushing it a bit, that extra half hour in bed this morning when the alarm went off a 5am hasn’t really done me any favours. I’m mentally picturing seconds ticking away into minutes as I tap my foot in agitation, willing people to hurry up otherwise I might be late for work and will miss out on that all-important coffee before I start; speaking of which, I think I’ve got enough loyalty tokens to now qualify for that coffee to be free (lets not mention the £12 it cost me to buy the other coffees to get this token) – happy days!
As I get to the till I notice a special offer on chocolate bars. “Mm mm” I think to myself, one bar of chocolate (king size obviously) isn’t going to break the bank – my figure maybe, but not the bank. What the heck, I’ll get one (or two). It’s only an extra pound and nobody’s watching.

Hang on a minute – aren’t I supposed to be slating maths? Have I not just said maths is for nerds, and that I find it boring, and that I never use it? If that’s the case, then why have I used maths at least ten times in the past ten minutes, add on the last two minor calculations and it’s up to twelve times…thirteen now…and so it goes on.
And that is exactly the point – maths is in engrained into almost every part of every day. It’s with the upmost confidence when I say that a day will not pass in anybody’s life when numbers hold no relevance. Simply – without maths, we couldn’t function (pardon the pun)…..

Michelle Graham.

ACT Accrington Doubles in Size!!

Our new ACT Accrington venue is fully up and running!!!

To celebrate, we will officially relaunch ACT Accrington on Friday 19th June 2015 at 2p.m. to coincide with the final day of Adult Learners Week 2015.

Located within the Hyndburn Voluntary & Community Resource Centre in the  Old St James’ School building on Cannon Street the new centre is just a stones throw from our old home on Warner Street. The building is home to other local support services and is therefore a perfect location for us to continue to work with the GMB, local churches and the community.

We have already begun to forge strong links with Ynot Aspire, ADHD Northwest and Remploy who are all based in the building and we hope to do the same with others. Other partners we work with include Calderdale College, InTraining and National Careers Service. We will continue to work closely with Accrington & Rossendale College, the local Job Centre+ and a number of other Information, Advice & Guidance providers in the area to support people into either training or employment.

With newly equipped rooms for delivery of Functional Skills, I.T. training and work club activities the new centre has allowed us to double capacity and respond to the ongoing demand for access to learning in the area. Our new surroundings continue our tradition of providing warm, friendly and supportive facilities in which people learn at a pace that suits them.

We will release more details nearer the time but we hope you can join us to celebrate the start of the next exciting chapter in our Accrington story.

New National Newsletter

In preparation for the GMB Annual Congress in June we have GMB ULFworked with the other GMB ULF Projects across the UK to put together the latest edition of The GLUE.

There will be printed copies available at congress and at other national events throughout the year but below you can find an electronic version which you can read online.cropped-gmb-reachout-logo-e14126932652341.jpg

This exciting 3rd edition sees 4 new projects in 4 regions as well as expansions of existing projects into new areas. The continuing work of Reach Out and the other ULF projects is guiding thousands of GMB members into education and training.

Find out more here….

Updated Sector Booklets

A couple of years ago GMB Reach Out in conjunction with Tribal developed a range of courses for the retail and care sectors. These Vocationally Related Qualifications (VRQs) were bundled together in handy booklets to distribute to relevant workplaces.

They have proved so popular that we have almost run out of both versions.  So, in an effort to make sure they can continue to reach as many people as possible, we’ve made them available electronically so that they can be viewed online, downloaded or printed.

North West & Irish Regional Secretary Paul McCarthy said “It’s fantastic that the sector specific booklets, pioneered in this Region, have proved so popular and to see that they are being used in other Regions now too,”

We are in the process of developing a similar booklet for the schools sector and we hope to have some printed copies of all three booklets available soon.

In the meantime you can view the current editions electronically below, and if there is a course you would like to discuss in more detail please do not hesitate to contact a member of the team on 0161 877 9439 or via email at