The BIG weekend is a HUGE success

Over 150 people attended our first ever BIG Weekend on 20-22 May at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton. Here’s the lowdown on a great event.

The sun was shinning for the region’s first large scale event since the start of the pandemic. Over 150 people joined our first ever BIG Weekend and we’d like to thank everyone who helped make it what it was – it’s fair to say we were bowled over by the contributions from everyone who attended!

This was a real watershed moment for UNISON South East as many of us met in person for the first time in years, we trained more new branch officers than ever before and spent dedicated time developing our campaigning work for the year ahead.

We began the event with a briefing and workshop on the new Branch Support and Organising Fund as well as sharing information on the TUC march in London on 18 June. Delegates held a minute’s silence as a mark of respect to all those we have lost during the Covid-19 pandemic.

We moved into our awards dinner that evening to recognise the incredible achievements of UNISON activists and branches during the horrendous conditions of the past two years.

We were welcomed to the city by new Southampton City Council Leader Satvir Kaur, after the Tories had been knocked for six during this month’s local elections. Clare Mellor, chief executive of Thompsons Solicitors gave our keynote speech, and we were joined by MPs from across the region.

Congratulations to all of our award winners this year:

  • Best recruiting small / medium branch: Surrey Police
  • Best recruiting large branch: Hampshire Local Govt.
  • Campaigning Branch of the year: Isle of Wight Health
  • Outstanding Contribution to the Cause of Equality: Sarah Barwick (Chair of Disabled Members.)
  • David Buss Award for Exemplary Service to the Region: Mark Chiverton (outgoing Regional Convenor)

After dinner, delegates had the chance to network with many choosing to dance the night away with our resident DJ!

On Saturday the serious business of training new reps started with workshops for our more experienced activists.

We also held a Parliamentary panel with Labour Party MPs Tan Dhesi (Slough), Alan Whitehead (Southampton Test) and Stephen Morgan (Portsmouth South) taking questions from delegates.

The training for branch officers continued into the Sunday with a charity quiz being held to raise money for Waterside Community Foodbank in Southampton.

It was incredible to see people again after two long years and to welcome so many new enthusiastic activists into the region.

We hope you all had an amazing weekend and look forward to seeing people again at the BIG Weekend in 2023!!