Archive of ‘Unite Community’ category

Unite football tournament plays a blinder!

Last Saturday 16th January, a very unique event took place at Barnsley Football Club.

Photos by Brian Clarke and Ian Parker.

The event was a 5 a side football tournament, not just any 5 a side tournament, this event was unique because it was organised by two passionate football fans, Linda Hughes (Unite Union Learning Organiser) and Joe Rollin (Unite Industrial Organising Officer) as an anti-racist event and to show support for refugees and asylum seekers.

The idea was developed when Linda and Joe became aware that a group of asylum seekers/refugees in Barnsley were spending their time playing football in Locke Park Barnsley. It was decided to organise using the title of “Celebrating diversity through learning” and supported by Barnsley FC Community Trust, Learn with Unite, Achievement through sport, Professional Footballers Association, Union Learning Fund, Show Racism the Red Card and Barnsley Trades Union Council.

Following negotiations with Barnsley Football Club the tournament was held in the Training Academy and 16 teams were invited to take place. The teams, 4 from Barnsley, 1 from Doncaster, 2 from Leeds, 1 from Leicester, 2 from Manchester, 1 from London, 2 from Middlesbrough, 1 from Pudsey and 2 from Sheffield. Getting all the fixtures worked out was quite a task but the organisers did it and made a good job of it.

We will not mention all the teams but the team from where the idea came from was Barnsley ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) an all women team a Dads & Lads team and a music group turned out a team.

The day went very well with very few hitches, 3 pitches were used simultaneously it was great to see such activity with so many Nationalities taking part, all watched and cheered on by a good audience of very enthusiastic supporters.

At half time Kenny Barron Unite the Union’s Head of Lifelong Learning presented ESOL certificates and medals to the Barnsley ESOL Team and a free buffet was provided by the Professional Footballers Association which was a bit like the proverbial bun fight, but much appreciated.

After all the matches had been played, the team coming out on top were Manchester Refugee Support, showing some excellent football skills, worthy winners. The trophy was presented by Dave Gibson on behalf of Barnsley Trades Union Council who provided trophies and medals.

All in all a very enjoyable day and thanks should be given to Barnsley Football Club, Unite the Union, Professional Footballers Association not forgetting Linda and Joe. The Barnsley team asked if it was going to be a regular event!! Perhaps it may develop into an Annual event, who knows?

A tribute to Callum Stanland

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Callum Stanland, a committed Unite Community activist in the Yorkshire and Humberside area, sadly lost his battle with cancer earlier this week at the age of 23.

Callum, who was diagnosed just under two years ago, showed a real passion for Unite Community. He was key to many of the successes that have happened in our region.

During his treatment, Callum volunteered to help run the Unite Community Centre in Farsley, as well as attending demonstrations across the country. No matter how Callum was feeling, he always put others first.

Earlier this year Callum spoke at a ‘Save the NHS’ rally in Leeds alongside Ed Miliband MP and Andy Burnham MP. In recognition of his work, Callum received an award for his campaigning work.

Joe Rollin, former Unite Community Organiser for the NEYH Region, said “I met Callum very soon after we launched Unite Community in the NEY&H in September 2012. He was one of the founding members of the Leeds Unite Community Branch. Callum was a student at the time but was keen to be involved in a wide range of campaigns not just student politics. Callum had a very deep understanding of class politics and worked tirelessly in the fight for a fairer more equal society. It’s so sad that he has passed away at such a young age. I watched him grow in confidence over the short time I knew him. My thoughts are with his family and friends”

The impact that Callum had on so many people has been clear since he lost his battle, with hundreds of tributes from friends, fellow trade unionists and politicians. Karen Reay, Unite regional secretary said “Callum was passionate about our union and our members, and we are all better for knowing him. His commitment and enthusiasm was always present and lifted all those around him. It is so sad that he has died so young, before we could have witnessed his full potential as a trade unionist and political voice. I have no doubt that Callum would have had a future within our movement, within Unite. My thoughts today are for his family and his many friends in Unite the Union”.

Remembering Callum’s sense of humour, Gerry Lavery from Leeds Unite Community Branch said “I first got to know Callum when he volunteered at the Unite Community Support Centre at Farsley in February 2014 and then through various other Unite Community activities.

Callum was easy to work with and had a kind, gentle manner. Behind his quiet appearance was a bright and thoughtful person with a political and intellectual curiosity, which he was keen to use to develop his political ideas and activities.

Importantly, he had a great sense of humour, laughing at many things, including the absurdities and contradictions of the then Coalition government.

He often joked about how he might use his illness to acquire more resources for the community support centre. He once jokingly suggested that if he coughed in front of Karen, the Unite regional secretary – who had a real soft spot for him – and asked for a photocopier, then he was pretty sure we’d get one. A few days after this incident we were duly offered a photocopier by the Unite office. It may be have been coincidence, but it remained a source of constant amusement.

Callum was a bright and rising star and it’s hard to make sense of his death at such a young age. I console myself with the thought that he touched us all with his socialist commitment and his considerable qualities and that none of these will be easily forgotten. His passing is an immense loss to his family, friends and colleagues”.

 

Barnsley Unite Centre Report

Attendees at our 2nd Anniversary gathering

Attendees at our 2nd Anniversary gathering

Introduction – Solidarity is the key.

The Barnsley area of South Yorkshire has a long tradition of a strong Labour and Trade Union movement working together in defence of jobs and conditions and supporting the communities that since the industrial revolution have produced coal, glass, steel and cotton in the mines and factories on behalf of the country.  I came down to Barnsley during the Miners’ Strike of 1984 to work in the Barnsley Centre Against Unemployment, a TUC affiliated centre that was part of the South Yorkshire/North Derbyshire Forum of Unemployed Workers Centres and we organised along the same principles as the Labour and Trade Union Movement.  The Barnsley Centre Against Unemployment, along with others, was a model TUC Centre and now 12 years after it closed some of the people involved were lucky enough to be still around and in a position to utilise many of the experiences of the centre and the TUC Forum into creating the Barnsley Unite Community Support Centre. Unite Community nationally have adopted the principles of education, agitation and organisation to face similar challenges to Thatcher’s era brought about by austerity measures and an even more hostile Tory government than Thatcher’s, if we ever thought that was possible!

Soon after our union’s bold declaration to start up a Community Union as part of Unite the Union, Joe Rollin, who had been appointed as a full time organiser for the North East approached me, Brian Clarke, Pete Smith and other well know Barnsley activists, all experienced and dedicated trade unionists to lend a hand in creating the very first Unite Community Support Centre in Barnsley. Joe had already approached the Yorkshire Area National Union of Mineworkers for permission to use spare office room at their headquarters in Barnsley which contains the famous miner’s hall and they agreed, much to our delight. It is worth noting that the agenda of today’s conference is very similar to one that we discussed at our early planning meetings held at the NUM nearly 3 years ago. This is a brief report of the main issues that we have faced and dealt with over the past 3 years, following our initial planning and strategy meeting.

The NUM granted us the use of two rooms and unlimited telephone use. The main office which also happens to be Arthur Scargill’s former office is used for administration, campaigning meetings, storing the campaign leaflets and advice work. It has four computers. The other office, The Women Against Pit Cosures, with who we have a strong coalition, doubles up as a computer training room with 6 computers. Our working relations with the NUM is excellent and our centre and South Yorkshire Unite Community branch was heavily involved in the 30th Miners anniversary events across the country, and of course the creation of the Orgreave Truth and Justice Campaign. It is very important to have a strong local branch in areas that we are growing our membership and South Yorkshire branch is just that.

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Main Broad Based coalitions (or partnerships as we like to call them)

Note: In our experience the key to building broad based coalitions is a non-judgemental , non-partisan and friendly approach and stressing the point to other organisations that Unite can help ‘their own’ organisation and Unite’s contribution to the anti-poverty agenda can be in all our interests. Wherever possible it is preferable for the personal approach to be carried out by our members to potential partners, stressing also the benefits of joining Unite, if not already in a union. This approach has reaped rewards in membership for us and helped build up our capacity to achieve our objectives. Here are some of our main partners.

Barnsley Trades Union Council is an active and vibrant arm of the trade union movement in our area and we have 2 delegates to the BTUC. We have regular joint events and demos

Barnsley Council and local councillors and our MP’s It helps our cause that Barnsley is a Labour controlled local authority and that from the start we involved the council in our development, invited the relevant council functions to our planning meetings Unite are represented at their key anti-poverty joint meetings. For example, the partnership we have with Homelessness Team and the Barnsley Advice Network is invaluable as an exchange of ideas and resources. We have excellent relations with the Housing and Benefits section and this helps us smooth the benefit problems between our clients and the council whilst of course retaining our right to represent and support clients at reviews and appeals against decisions made by the council. We have a direct line to local councillors and MP’s and regularly call upon them if needed on behalf of our members.

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PCS and the Job Centre:   We have strong links with the local PCS branch through their representative on the trades’ council and who also happens to be a member of the CAB  trustees in which I am also a member. The main contact in working situations to other PCS members is through the Job Centre Plus staff. We regularly leaflet outside the Job Centre in Barnsley but always contact the local PCS rep to inform him/her. We also make an effort not to blame or scapegoat Job Centre staff for the plight of claimants, especially on the sanctions issues. On behalf of Unite we wrote a letter to the PCS Barnsley branch to explain that, whilst we vigorously campaign against the Tory Welfare Reforms, we recognise that staff is given targets to fulfil on sanctions and Job Search. It is important that the two unions take each other along and talk to each other on the rocky path that the Tory Government has set for us when it comes to Welfare Reform and the problems it has caused.

Red Cross:   The British Red Cross operates from Quaker House almost next door to ours. We have a partnership with the Red Cross to provide ESOL (English for speakers of other languages) to all asylum seekers and refugees that are referred to us by the Red Cross. At present this consists of around 60 all at different stages of entry into the UK. We also provide benefits, money and housing information and along with the Red Cross support and advise them on their applications and support for asylum. We have an Iranian volunteer member who speaks several languages and is vital to sound advice delivery. This is ground breaking work that we are very proud of.

South Yorkshire Credit Union: This is another vitally important partnership as many of our members and potential members cannot access a High street bank account. Also the membership of a credit union allows both borrowing and saving at the same time and benefit can be deposited in a credit union account. As a founder member of the SYCU I understand the importance of a credit union in alleviating poverty and debt and enabling people to budget their income and outgoings.

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Food Bank and Churches: we have a close partnership with the local food bank and we have a volunteer member working in the church which provides daily hot meals

Others (not exhaustive)    Pensioners groups (Freedom Riders!) Bedroom Tax Campaign, Northern College, Barnsley College, Unison and other unions, the CAB and Students Union.

Advice Work and Networking

Networking with other advice organisations is essential if you are giving welfare rights advice. Voluntary and statutory organisation, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, Council Welfare Rights teams ( now becoming rare) Shelter and Age Concern can be referred to and welcome Unites input and support in our experience. Our experience is that it desirable to get to know the key workers of our main partners and encourage them to join Unite. Also ask them to volunteer for us and even take training sessions. Since opening, Barnsley Unite have supported and advised over 300 people seeking our advice, conducted around 800 interviews with many joining Unite. We have taken 36 Tribunals with a 75% success rate – but win or lose, it’s our support to people who are at their wit’s end that is the main thing.

Neil, Linda,John, Brian, Tigsiti Tekleab, Mekdes Zewde, Saron Alehayeku.

Neil, Linda,John, Brian, Tigsiti Tekleab, Mekdes Zewde, Saron Alehayeku.

Changing the Narrative Equality, Lobbying, Campaigning and Recruiting

It follows that strong partnerships and networking can bring their own practices of delivering meaningful equality to the Unite table. Also the referrals and the cross-referrals from voluntary and charitable organisations mentioned above can instil a natural social approach to equalities in all our functions as a union. Equalities are complimentary to everything that we do. This approach is important within the Barnsley community and along with other likeminded partners we try to lead by example in treating everyone equally and with the same careful attention to detail that we would if we were in an industrial setting dealing with our workplace members. Unite Community can provide that bit extra with our campaigning role that gives us an edge over other voluntary and charitable organisations working in the community The ‘we really are in this together’ approach gains us credibility when we are lobbying, campaigning and recruiting especially when we conduct visible campaigns, demos or promotional activities on the street. Student work should now be a priority for Unite as these are our future members who will carry the banner forward, hopefully to a better world. Against a background of poverty and anger it can be difficult to achieve even small gains in a system that is loaded against us. In working together towards our aims it goes without saying that we must have total unity of purpose between ourselves.

The elements of all conference workshops should link into each other and the report backs from the workshops should combine to form a feasible strategy to take Unite Community and the PCS forward. We must keep in mind that we are now nearly 3 years old and many of our more active areas are beyond the basics and are setting their own priorities and strategies according to the needs of their communities. I hope this brief report of our experiences and those who are attending the conference help you to achieve the aims of the conference.

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Footnote

With the seeming success of Unite Community, the volunteers at Barnsley are of the opinion that the work of Unite Community nationally would be enhanced enormously with an increase in the number of full time Regional Organisers. The present limit of one organiser for every region seems wholly unreasonable and unrealistic.

Yours fraternally,

Richard Vivian,

Volunteer, on behalf of Barnsley Unite Community Centre

23.10.2015

ESOL Unite Community Centre

The ESOL Classes put on by Barnsley Unite Community have become so popular that we have had to turn people away for the last few weeks because we have ran out of space. We are currently looking to put on an extra class a week and so are looking for an extra teacher (who Unite will train for free) and volunteers to assist.

Another exciting development is that we are planning a Unite Football Tournament to help with community cohesion and are working with the PFA to make this happen. Watch this space.

And finally, we now have a translator who is working alongside Richard to assist people with welfare advice do come along visit the centre and support us in our work.

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AUGUST Action Update

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AUGUST Action Update

Lots Going on right across our Region! come along get involved! get active!

 

Unite Community NE, Yorkshire & Humberside

 

Dear Community Member,

In the three months since the Election of the Conservative Government we have seen an escalation of the attacks on worker’s rights and on the poor and vulnerable in our communities. As Unite Community Members many of you are at the forefront of resistance to this government and its attacks on our communities. As you know, Community branches across our region are working tirelessly to stand up for public services, fight welfare sanctions and support communities and workers who are under attack from the Tories.

Listed below are just some of the campaigns and events which we are organising over the coming weeks and months. It is by no means exhaustive and new events are being organised every week. Our blogs and facebook pages are constantly updated and carry updates on all our events and campaigns.

 

 

TORY PARTY CONFERENCE

Many members have contacted us enquiring about travel provision for the demonstration outside the Conservative Party conference in Manchester on October 4th. Unite NEYH will be providing transportation to and from the demonstration for all our members and places will be available to book via the Unite website. Unite Community are hoping to have a strong presence at the demonstration as we did at the People’s Assembly march in London and the Durham Miners Gala. More detailed information will follow as buses and schedules are confirmed.

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CAMPAIGNS

* PIZZA EXPRESS – Unite Community members across the UK have been supporting1 Unite members in the hospitality industry in their struggle for better terms and conditions. As you may have seen recently our campaign in support of Pizza Express workers was featured in the National media. Unite are running a campaign to stop Pizza Express stealing their workers tips. Workers in this sector have to survive on very low rates of pay and often rely on their tips to make ends meet. Community branches will be helping to recruit Pizza Express workers to the Union and supporting them through pickets and demonstrations outside restaurants. This is a well organised nationwide campaign and we would encourage as many Community members as possible to get involved.[1]

 

* SPORTS DIRECT – An article in today’s Guardian newspaper reports that 25% of job seekers are being pushed into Z hour contract positions. One of the worst offenders in the abuse of casualised workers is Sports Direct. Unite Community will be holding a nationwide Day of Action against billionaire Mike Ashley and his Victorian employment practices. This will be timed to coincide with the Sports Direct AGM on the 9th September. Unite Community NEYH are hoping to co-ordinate events in all the towns and cities in our region.[2]

 

* FRESHERS WEEKS – We have so far arranged a number of events for the upcoming Freshers Weeks. Events are confirmed for Sheffield University, Sunderland University, Leeds and Keighley Colleges amongst others. With the continuing attacks on student financial provision and on further education funding it is imperative that we recruit and organise amongst students in further and higher education. We are hoping that every branch can organise a Freshers recruitment event in the Universities and Colleges in their area. I have ordered a new gazebo for the North East of the region and am producing student specific leaflets for these events.

For information on how to get involved in the Pizza Express, Sports Direct campaigns or how to help recruitment at Freshers events please contact me directly at john.coan@unitetheunion.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

DURHAM & SUNDERLAND

Demonstration against benefit cuts, Durham

 

First of all I’d like to thank the Durham comrades for the fantastic welcome they gave members from across the region at this year’s Unite Political School and the Miner’s Gala. I know that our members from Yorkshire and the East Midlands who came to the Big Meeting this year enjoyed themselves immensely and that there will be even more of us making the journey up the A1 next year!

Our members in Durham are cementing the great relationship we have with the Durham Miners Association and the local community by organising outreach work around social security rights and the fight back back against benefit sanctions in communities across Co Durham. The first training days in this programme take place on Wednesday 30th September and Thursday 1st October at Redhills, Durham. The second part of the course takes place across two days on the 7th & 8th at the same venue. A half day course on Benefit Sanctions and how to combat them is in the process of being booked. All the training is being led by professional Benefits Rights advisers from Durham County Council. We urge all our members in the NE who are interested to join us over these two weeks. If you are interested, please contact me directly and I will pass on your details to the team at Durham.

As well as the fantastic ongoing work taking pace at Durham, recent months have witnessed the emergence of the beginnings of a new branch in Sunderland. Our Dynamic Duo of Kathrine and Dave have been joining scores of new members, been running street stalls and have even found time to set up a clothes bank in Penshaw! We will be leafleting across Sunderland and running street stalls in the run up to a public meeting in the city, after which we will constitute an official Unite Community branch there.

Unite Community will also be in attendance at the Easington Heritage Day on the 12th September in the Welfare Park, Easington, Co Durham. The event is a celebration of the town’s industrial and political heritage and will feature a mix of music, arts and politics. Unite Community will be marching with our various banners and running a stall, transport ds being organised from across the region so get in touch if you’d like to join us for what looks being an excellent day out.[3]

In other good news from the North East, we note that far right extremists from the EDL have cancelled a planned march through Shotton Colliery on 5TH September. Nice to see the far right being pushed back in our region, let’s hope it continues.

 

A nicer event altogether is taking place in Easington, Co Durham on Saturday, 12th September. As part of the National Heritage Open Day programme, Easington Colliery Heritage Group would like you to enjoy a day of celebration, reflecting on our past and highlighting our future.

This FREE ENTRANCE family event will begin with a musical parade from our former pit site, then follow with arts/crafts for children, rides, live music and guest speakers, poetry, film and photography, bar, local food and much more! Unite Community will be there, marching with our banners and running a stall. We will be organising transport from other parts of the region for any members wishing to attend. [4]

 

 

LEEDS / YORK

 

Over recent months the number of members living in and around York has seen steady growth. This is mainly due to the hard work put in by various members of the Leeds branch who have recruited scores of new members in and around the city at a variety of events. Until now members in York and much of North Yorkshire have been included in the Leeds City Branch but as their numbers have grown it has become apparent that we need to constitute York as its own branch.

We will be contacting all members in the York area this week to ask for volunteers to sit on the branch committee. Full training is given to all branch officials and the Leeds branch committee will be on hand to assist with the setting up of the new branch. Again, please contact me via e-mail if you would be interested in taking up one of the positions.

LEEDS CITY COLLEGE: Leeds members will be running a stall this Thursday, 27th August, at the Leeds City College Fresher’s` event. This event is being organised in conjunction with the Students Union there. We expect the event to be packed out and it should be a good opportunity to recruit members and engage with the students about the great work Unite Community is engaged in. Again, please get in touch if you would like to help out.

 

 

 

 

SOUTH YORKSHIRE




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Unite Community are planning to hold a recruitment stall at the Jeremy Corbyn event on Saturday 29th at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield. We had stalls at the hugely successful events in Middlesbrough and Newcastle last week and signed up several new members. If anyone is available to help out in Sheffield please get in touch.

Unite Community members have been helping out with industrial recruitment in recent months and we are hoping to continue this at a range of sites across South Yorkshire. Officers are currently running recruitment drives at ASOS in Grimethorpe and IPL in Normanton. If any members have an hour or two to help out with this it would be very useful indeed.

Please contact Richard.Bedford@unitetheunion.org if you can assist at ASOS, Grimethorpe or speak to Sarah.Mitchell@unitetheunion.org if you can help out at IPL, Normanton. Travel from Leeds, Barnsley or Sheffield will be arranged for any members living there.

As well as running the hugely successful Community Support Centre in Barnsley, a number of our comrades there also find time to help out at the local Drop In club which feeds Barnsley’s homeless three times a week. The work the people do there is a lifeline to some of the area’s most vulnerable people. Unfortunately, as with many other projects, they really need more people to assist them. Anyone in the area interested in helping out should contact Peter, the project organiser on 01226 247652 or 0752 846 8327.

 

 

BOTTON VILLAGE.

 

As many of you will have heard our Community branch at Botton Village, North Yorkshire have won significant concessions from the charity managing the village and have retained “shared living” there for the time being. The Co-workers at Botton have been supported by the wider Unite membership and Officers and staff throughout the union. They are undergoing media and campaign training and establishing a very active branch up in North Yorkshire. As we have discussed with several branches over recent months I am currently organising a visit to our newest branch for members from other branches. As with all other events listed above, please contact me directly and to express your interest. Once we have an idea of numbers, I will make firm travel plans. [5]

 

 

TRAINING & UNITE IN SCHOOLS

 

As we prepare to start a new academic year I am beginning the task of contacting FE Colleges and schools across our region as part of Unite’s “Unite in Schools” project. This project aims to take educate the next generation of workers about the benefits of Trade Union membership and explain the positive role unions play in civil society. We are currently organising training for members to deliver the Unite in Schools programme and would encourage any members who are interested in taking part to get in touch.

In addition to our Schools project we are also providing a wide range of training to our members. A full list of the courses available is detailed in the attached document.

 

 

So, it looks like being a busy couple of months coming up for all our Community branches. I look forward to working with you all in the coming weeks and months and to forging ever more successful campaigns across our region.

 

Yours in solidarity

 

John Coan – Unite Community Coordinator NE,Y&H region.

[1] http://www.unitetheunion.org/campaigning/fair-tips-for-waiting-staff/

[2] http://www.unitetheunion.org/campaigning/fair-tips-for-waiting-staff/

[3] https://www.facebook.com/689035931205066/photos/gm.476039935910758/751096181665707/?type=1&theater

[4] https://www.facebook.com/events/458862440961841/

[5] https://www.facebook.com/events/458862440961841/

ESOL session

Wednesday was our second ESOL session held at the Quaker House, with our friends from the British Red Cross. The first session we had 3 students, today 8 students and next week we know we will have a minimum of 10 students. We are very pleased with the progress, onwards and upwards!

Unite Support Centre update

 

 

A very productive couple of days in the Unite Community Support Centre this week, several people came in seeking help, covering Sanctions, Housing Benefit, Job Seekers Allowance, Pension Credit and general benefit advice.

We carried out a further 6 Initial Assessment Tests for  English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) bringing our total to 16. We look forward to starting the course in the next few weeks. We have also 2 new learners on Unite the Union computer courses, which means all our computers are now in use.

Spring edition of the Solidarity Bulletin

Below is the downloadable PDF of the Spring edition of Solidarity Bulletin.  Please circulate.

Pages I &2: Stop the Deaths!  TUC Sanctions conference
Page  3: Roll-out of Universal Credit in Chesterfield
Pages 4 & 5: Chesterfield & District TUC May Day
Pages 6 & 7: Asbestos Awareness Project
Page 8: Contact Information

solspring 2015

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