If you’re a health student on placement, now is the time to join UNISON

For UK trade unions, November is Young Workers month. Young workers are recognised within UNISON as being under-27 and have their own officers and section within our union. This means that that UNISON has dedicated resources that help our union’s 63,000 young workers to help amplify their voices and win on the issues that matter to them.

Many of these UNISON members are student nurses and student health professionals. Like their peers in other sectors, these students often have been on the frontline of the pandemic. And with placements in the NHS as key parts of their professional qualifications, more students will be joining them – with all the concerns about Covid-19 and other issues that entails.

This means that if you are a student nurse or student health professional and you aren’t a member of the UK’s largest trade union now is the time to join UNISON. Whilst you’re a student, membership is at a special rate of just £10 a year.

UNISON Area Organiser Liz Woodhouse is lead for students in the region and helped to promote UNISON to the new intake at Oxford Brookes University. She notes:

Students should join UNISON because we can offer help and support during their studies and placements. We have a special Student Nurse and Midwifery Network to help members look out for each other – it is tough to be a Health student during the pandemic and a union is needed more than ever.

Local Organiser Phil Hedges, who delivered online presentations to students at both Portsmouth and Southampton universities, agrees:

Students should join UNISON because as part of their course, they’re going into the workplace to do placements. And like anyone at work, being part of a union like UNISON is really important to look after their interests – particularly because of Covid-19. Of course, as UNISON organisers, we hope they won’t need to go to our union for support, but it’s important that students have that option.

Meanwhile, UNISON Local Organiser Clare Boorman provides a whole list of reasons why for students, joining UNISON for £10 a year is a great deal:

UNISON offer advice and support whilst members are on placement and studies. We campaign for a better future – we work to keep the NHS fit for purpose as well as all the other public services we support. We’re the largest trade union in the UK and in the NHS and our size means we’ve more reps – which means more local support for our student members when they’re on placement. And we value all NHS staff, which is really important because it’s more than nurses that keep the NHS running – what we call the One Team approach.

Clare was involved in recruitment at Canterbury Christchurch University. She continues:

We offer access to legal advice, including support with immigration issues. We also have self organised groups to help promote equality within the workplace and within our union that students can get involved in. And of course, many students will be under 27, meaning that they are young workers. This November, we particularly want young members to tell us their experiences of being in the workplace during the pandemic!

If you are a student nurse or student health professional at any university in the south east then you can join UNISON for £10 a year. If you are a student at Canterbury Christchurch, Oxford Brookes, Portsmouth, Reading or Southampton University you should also be able to find presentations about UNISON in your student spaces that have more information about the benefits of joining. We’ll also be writing to you in due course via UCAS. Members also receive a welcome pack, including an Oxford dictionary for nurses, fob watch and pocket guide to medicine management.

Do you work alongside a student nurse who isn’t a member of a union? Why not help them to get their career started the right way and ask them to join UNISON?