Thanks alone is not enough

I want to thank you all for everything you are doing during this crisis.  

A special thank you to the NHS workers, the care workers, the school staff, the refuse collectors, all of the public service workers providing key services to keep the country going. To the public service staff being redeployed into frontline work, and to those working remotely but still carrying out key work. Your contribution to the national effort is outstanding. We are so proud of you all.  

The weekly ‘Clap for our carers’ on Thursdays is truly remarkable. A clear physical mainfestation of how much your work is valued by the whole country. A weekly reminder of how important the work of UNISON members is, at all times, and especially now. 

Thanks alone however, is not enough. UNISON continues to pressure the government on adequate PPE, and testing for all key workers. Only with these two vital measures in place, can you continue to carry out your roles, safely and effectively. UNISON has launched a PPE Alert where you can tell us, anonymously, of your concerns over PPE where you work.You can access this hereWe are feeding this back directly to the UK Government and will continue to hold them to account until safe working environments can be assured for all who are faced with unprecedented risk in these times. 

I’m sorry to have to bring some very sad news. We have learned of the loss of two senior activists from the region in the last week.  

Lorna Cameron, Branch Secretary of Bracknell Forest branchpassed away suddenly as a result of contracting Covid-19. She’d been the branch secretary for 15 years and represented countless members during that time. A deeply kind, caring and honest person, Lorna was a highly respected social worker and spent her working life doing what she loved. 

Allison Boyd, joint Branch Secretary of Portsmouth Health Branch, also tragically passed away after a long battle with cancerAllison was in UNISON for 30 years and was active for over 25. She dedicated herself to representing and supporting members in the Queen Alexandra Hospital and was a well-known and popular figure with everyone in the workplace.  

People like Lorna and Allison are the absolute backbone of our union, and we mourn their loss collectively and pause to think of their family, friends and colleagues. But we remember too that our movement is stronger because of the contribution they made. And we are all richer for having known then. 

Within the region, we want to celebrate you and the work you are doing. And that’s why today we’re launching #OurHeroes on the South East website and social media channels. We start with Jay, Branch Secretary of the Isle of Wight Health branch, who has returned to front line NHS work, and is also supporting a vulnerable neighbour his local community, freeing up district nursing staff to care for others. Read his story here 

Do you have a story to share for #OurHeroes? Leave your contact details and our communications team can contact you. We’ll feature your stories regularly on the website and social media, to ensure that all key workers are celebrated during this critical time. 

Stay safe everyone.