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UNISON Community Conference 2020

Unison Community Conference started with focussed meetings on service areas. I attended the housing association session which looked at issues facing housing staff across the country, discussed best practice and challenges still very prevalent in the sectors. Issues discussed ranged from universal credit challenges, leaseholder issues, staffing issues, support networks, mental health issues, working with tenants, staff bonuses. Outcomes from this were for a specific newsletter for housing related information and support to be put together to share best practice and inform of useful information.

Following this useful session the Community Seminar began and conference welcomed Christine McNea spoke to conference about the challenges affecting those working in the community sector. Questions were raised to the group around, rough sleeping, sleep ins, community sector increasing inside, housing associations related pay scale increase for work to be done, and other community related issues.

Saturday began we attended the Workshop on Deepening engagement in your unison, this turned out to be very useful and gave us some ideas for future planning for the branch to ensure that we can reach out to members across all sectors of our branch and make sure we include them all in future branch activities where possible.

There was then a speech from RT HON Mark Drakeford AM (First Minister of Wales) who covered issues which related to the Housing Crisis, Right to Buy, community issues, success stories from Wales and also fielded questions from delegates,



You can see more about Mark here…

and you can read his profile here…

Following this a lunch break the main business began, the annual report and other information was now brought to conference, you can read this here…

Motions now to be discussed were the following…

  • Engaging Branches in the community sector in LGBT+ Recruitment and Organising – Motion Carried
  • Recruitment and Organising – Motion Carried
  • Health and Safety Representation – Motion Carried
  • Racism in Community Workplaces – Motion Carried
  • Community Services for Women – a lifeline removed – Motion Carried
  • Community Employers, Accessibility Passports and Access to Work – Motion Carried
  • Sleeping in, losing out – Motion Carried
  • Making it fair for social care – Motion Carried
  • Right to buy and shared ownership in Housing Associations in England – Motion Carried
  • Supporting People – Motion Carried
  • National standards for social care – protecting disabled workers – Motion Carried
  • Branch Structures – Motion Carried
  • Inclusive Workplace Policies for Non-Binary members in the community Sector – Motion Carried
  • Recruitment and organising Black members in the fragmented workforce – Motion Carried
  • promoting the EU settlement scheme to community members – Motion Carried
  • Stop ‘First Homes’ proposals – Motion Carried

This brought to a close the Community Conference 2020 until next year.

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Community Conference 2018 Blog Update – Southport 1st – 4th March

Paul Berrisford and myself (Julie Walker) attended the Community Conference in Southport where we attended workshops prior to the start of conference. The first workshop was on Violence and Aggression where we were informed that 70% of our members within the Housing Association Sector reported violence and aggression at work, this is higher than other sectors where their average is 50%.

Unison has developed a Violence at Work Charter using data collated from previoussurveys conducted with our members. They have also consulted Unison Health and Safety teams and branches to produce a 10 point plan, are contacting employers to request that they sign up to the charter and take on board its recommendations.

The Charter requires

  • The Employer has a written Violence and Aggression at Work Policy
  • Responsibility for Violence and Aggression at Work Policy lies with Senior Managers
  • Isolation of workers is to be reduced
  • Staff actively encouraged to report incidents
  • Data is collected and monitored
  • Union Safety Representatives are able to access this data and consulted
  • There are thorough Risk Assessments produced
  • Support pathways are provided for staff who are victims of violence
  • Training is provided to ensure staff are aware of the appropriate way in which to deal with threatening situations
  • Independent counselling provided for employees

The Charter has been advertised in the media and now 15 employers have signed up to it already. These employers include

  • Coverage Care
  • Aspire
  • Dimensions
  • Mencap
  • Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB)
  • Creative Support
  • Federation of Jewish Services (Heathlands)
  • Places for People Group
  • Apex Housing Association
  • Sandwell Community Caring Trust
  • WM Housing Group
  • Wakefield and District Housing
  • Incommunities
  • The Wrekin Housing Trust

All of these employers have been sent two letters requesting that they look at their policies and the Charter has been press released twice. Unison have arranged for a Parliamentary event to raise the profile of the Charter and to put more pressure on employers to sign up. This will take place in June 2018 and will include Unison Activists from Community with particular interest in this issue.

There were 16 motions discussed on Saturday afternoon and all were carried, an Emergency Motion was introduced by Greater London Region regarding London Housing Crisis. This emergency motion was fully debated, and the consensus was that although Greater London Region had brought this to conference it was in fact a motion that affected all regions. The motion was duly carried.