Union Learning Rep, Branch Communications Officer, Southampton District Branch
Branch based secondment, Union Learning Fund
How long have you been active in the union and what roles do you hold?
I’ve been a member of UNISON for 17 years, since I started work. I am 3 months into a 6 month secondment working one day a week at the Southampton District Branch, funded by the Union Learning Fund. I applied for this role when the previous Lifelong Learning Coordinator left, as I had two years Union Learning Representative experience under my belt.
Why did you become active?
It felt like the right time to begin challenging myself that little bit more. To learn more about UNISON as a whole, to learn more about how I can help my colleagues with their learning and education, and to learn more about myself. I needed to push myself out of my comfort zone to almost force myself to try new things that I might find daunting. I like helping people and I try and do so with a smile and to the best of my ability. What they don’t know is underneath the grin I am learning myself. Learning skills like how to address a group, how to deliver a speech or run a lunch time club.
What’s the best thing about being active in UNISON?
The best thing about being in UNISON is the ‘family’ feeling that you experience. Everyone is respectful, helpful and encouraging and if you are not sure on something there will always be someone that you can wither ask for help or guidance.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about becoming active?
If you are thinking about becoming active I would advise you to contact you branch secretary to ask them if you can spend time talking to different members of your local branch. You could ask to shadow them for a few hours to see what role would both interest you and suite your skill set. Many roles can be carried out short term as either a seconded post or be carried out for a year and revised at your branch’s annual general meeting. No one is expected to carry out a role unwillingly or unsupported.