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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Taxpayers’ Alliance admits director doesn’t pay British tax

This article by Robert Booth originally appeared in The Guardian.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance, a campaign group that calls for tax and spending cuts and claims to represent the interests of taxpayers, has admitted one of its directors does not pay British tax.

The Guardian has learned that Alexander Heath, a director of the increasingly influential free market, rightwing lobby group, lives in a farmhouse in the Loire and has not paid British tax for years.

The admission, made by Matthew Elliott, the TPA’s chief executive and founder, is potentially embarrassing for the Conservative party, which has close links to the group that claims to be “the guardian of taxpayers’ money, the voice of taxpayers in the media and their representative at Westminster”.

At the Conservative party conference in Manchester this week, the TPA’s influence was underlined when David Cameron and George Osborne followed its recommendations for freezing public sector pay and capping civil servants’ salaries at the level of the prime minister, unless approved by the chancellor.

Senior Labour figures said the admission that a TPA director does not pay British tax “should ring alarm bells” about the group’s influence on the debate on tax and spending. The group has also campaigned against green taxes, quangos and town hall pay.

Heath’s status emerged from an investigation into the TPA, which also revealed that the group is heavily funded by a group of businessmen and wealthy donors who also back the Conservatives.

“Mr Heath, a retired teacher, has lived in France since marrying his French wife in 1973,” said Elliott in a statement. “He is still a British citizen but he is a French taxpayer (where taxes are higher than in the UK!). He is passionate about the Taxpayers’ Alliance.” Elliott said Heath returned to the UK for about a fortnight each year and owned no property in Britain.

“The least we can expect for an organisation that purports to represent the interests of British taxpayers is that it is run by people that pay British tax,” said Jon Cruddas MP, who said he is one of many Labour MPs concerned about the TPA’s growing influence.

“When it emerges that one of the directors doesn’t [pay British tax], their motivations seem questionable and alarm bells should start ringing for anyone who comes across the TPA.”

He said the organisation’s backers suggested there was “a revolving door” between Tory donors and supporters of the TPA, although the group denies it is a front for the Conservatives. The TPA’s financial backers include Sir Anthony Bamford, the owner of the JCB digger company, and Tony Gallagher, the owner of Gallagher Estates, both Conservative donors, who with 32 other businessmen have donated about £80,000 to the group through the Midlands Industrial Council.

Malcolm McAlpine, the chief executive of contractor Sir Robert McAlpine, said he had also funded the group. David Alberto, a property developer supplies office space to the group near Westminster worth an estimated £100,000 a year.

The campaign group refuses to publish details of its income or a list of donors, but when pressed, Elliott said the biggest single donation was no higher than £100,000 and its annual income from donations was about £1m. It is a rapid rise for a group which filed accounts for 2005 that showed donations of just £67,547.

The TPA’s links to the Conservatives include monthly meetings where speakers have included Eric Pickles, the Conservative party chairman, Liam Fox, the shadow defence secretary, and Daniel Hannan, the Tory Eurosceptic MEP who recently claimed the NHS was “a 60-year mistake”.

Miners’ Memorial Day Service


A Miners’ Memorial Day Service is being held in Sheffield Cathedral on Sunday 11 October 2015 at 1.30pm. All welcome to attend.

Community tattoo!

Unite, the Barnsley tattoo shop and helping refugees

This article by Jody Whitehill originally appeared on UniteLive, Wednesday, September 30th, 2015


Like many of us, Ruth Rollin, a tattooist and Unite community member from Leeds has been deeply saddened by the images of Syrian refugees in the media.

The body of little Aylan washed up on the beach left the nation shocked and dismayed that our government is not doing more to help people fleeing war torn Syria.

Ruth, who owns Red Tattoo and Piercings in Leeds decided she was going to do something to help.

Ruth met her husband Joe Rollin, a Unite organiser, eighteen years ago through their anti-fascist campaigning.

It was Joe who suggested that she raise some funds for the community centre in Barnsley that he had set up two years ago.

Red tattoo studio has four resident tattoo artists and two body piercers and has a steady flow of regular and new clients.

“What is happening in Syria is so awful,” said Ruth.

“I think so many people want to do something to help but maybe don’t know how,” she added.

Ruth decided she would donate an entire days takings towards funding English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) classes for asylum seekers at the Barnsley community centre.

The team at Red Tattoo raised £1,500 to go towards the Unite Learning project which the Unite activists are planning on expanding.


Fundraising at Red Tattoo

She also set up a drop off point at the shop where local residents could donate items for refugees in Calais.

“It’s about helping those who are already here but also helping those stuck in the jungle,” said Joe.


The items donated will be driven down to Calais and the money raised will be used to help those who want to learn English but can’t afford to pay for the lessons.

Joe joined Unite as an organiser for the community section, which helps give people out of work a chance to organise and campaign to improve things within their local communities.

It was Joe’s idea to find somewhere as a base for his community members to get together.

“Organising people who aren’t in work is really hard as you don’t have anywhere to meet,” said Joe.

“Members in employment would have meetings at their place of work,” he explained.

Joe went to the National Union of Miners (NUM) headquarters in Barnsley with his idea of creating a space to organise people who aren’t in employment but want to be part of the trade union movement.

“The biggest cause of unemployment round here is the closure of the pits,” said Joe.

“The NUM bought into the idea and gave us the space for free,” he added.

From strength to strength

It hasn’t been easy though. When Joe started out the centre had just one room and one computer.

But it has gone from strength to strength. The centre is a place for campaign activity around issues like the bedroom tax, welfare cuts and sanctions.

They have also run their own campaigns to save free travel for the elderly and disabled, fought the closure of sure start centres and they collect food for the local food bank.

Now with the money donated by Red Tattoo and Piercings the centre will be able to offer free ESOL.

“Being able to offer ESOL at the centre means we can reach out even further and help those who possibly have language as a barrier,” said Joe.

As well as a whole days takings Red Tattoo also sold donated cakes, gifts and artwork to help raise money.

Vicki Dawson, who works at the shop and is also a Unite community member told me that the day was a real success with regular and new customers.

“We didn’t know what reaction we would get from customers but it was really well received,” she said.

Staff had put up flyers before the day and lots of people turned up as walk in appointments for piercings and tattoos.

“It was great as people could come and get something done for themselves but know that their money was going to a really good cause,” said Vicki.

The Oaks 150 Colliery Memorial

The Oaks 150 Colliery Memorial 1866-2016 (150 years) are looking to erect a memorial to those who died in the worst coal mining disaster ever to happen in England, which would be seen as a monument of national significance and demonstrate that the living will not forget the past. This is fully supported by the NUM Yorkshire Area.


Do you have relatives or do you know anyone who has who were victims of the Oak Colliary Disaster in Barnsley, at which 361 men and boys lost their lives?

Would you like to get involved?

Do you have any information or stories relating to the disaster?

If you can help in any way, please contact:

T: 01226 757024 or 01709 894636

M: 07518 154474


Please distribute this as widely as possible and help this small group of ex-miners to raise funds for a suitable memorial to those who perished 150 years ago.

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Solidarity Autumn Edition

Below is the Autumn 2015 Edition of Solidarity.

It includes articles on the newly launched Welfare Charter as well as the recent Coroner’s comments on the’ fit for work’ test.

Click here to read: Solidautumn 2015

Red Tattoo Donate £1500 towards Unite Community ESOL Classes!


Barnsley Unite Community Activists would like to say a massive thank you to everyone at Red Tattoo and piercing in Leeds for their generous donation of £1500 towards our ESOL project link to the website here Red Tattoo donated a whole days takings from their shop as well as receiving art work, gifts, cakes and donations on the day which was sold to customers both new and old! Thanks again for everybody who helped! The donation will go a long way to help provide English Classes through the Unite Learning project which the Unite activists are planning on expanding. Watch this space for more developments ……………. Photos from the day below.

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