A return to ‘normal’ is something so many of us are craving. But it’s also something that is a long way off. For UNISON Members, it is often a misrepresentation to suggest that the easing of lockdown means returning to the workplace – not least because many of you never left it.
But around 4 months after the UK went into lockdown on 23rd March, many members of our union are settling into a ‘new normal’, as lockdown eases and the new ways of working that may be with us long-term bed in.
UNISON has been with you throughout the pandemic – and will continue to support you in making sure you are safe going forward.
To underline this, UNISON Hampshire Health branch and UNISON Isle of Wight Local Government branch are amongst those branches writing to their members to remind them that in an anxious working environment, their section of the UK’s largest trade union is still by their side. Regional organiser James Smith explains:
Many of our members have had an incredibly difficult year, and with the looming funding crisis in local government and the possibility of further spikes in Covid-19 cases, it’s clear that we are not out of the woods yet. Many branches I work with want to reach out and remind them that they aren’t facing these issues alone.
Alongside the message that they are there for their members, UNISON Hampshire Health branch highlight that in the face of a spike in domestic violence, they are able to support members where this impacts upon their employment – as well as sign posting to services outside the workplace. Branch secretary Jackie Dolphin outlines:
We aim to ensure any member that requires support gets it immediately – we don’t just offer help in the workplace, keeping the member safe is of paramount importance and through our welfare officer, we can help guide them through the process of applying to our There For You charity if financial support is required. We are aware of the effects on people’s mental health and do our utmost to ensure the member is safe, listened to, supported and helped.
Sending traditional posted letters to members is also a way to make sure that members who haven’t provided us with an email address have a one-stop resource for the information that they need that they can keep safe for when they need it. James continues:
UNISON has provided a lot of great resources during the pandemic. But our members lead busy lives and we want to make sure that these resources aren’t missed by the people who need them the most. So we’ve taken the opportunity to signpost to up-to-date health and safety information as well as the special Covid-19 response fund that the union provides as part of its welfare charity, There For You.
As Isle of Wight Local Government branch secretary Mark Chiverton outlines:
We believe it is essential to communicate with our members by any means available and make sure that they have the information they need.
UNISON welcomed 91,925 new members in the first 5 months of 2020. If you weren’t one of them, there’s never been a better time to join.