Sunday, March 02, 2014

There for you - UNISON Community Seminar 2014

The next speaker at the seminar was Julia Grant, the head of UNISON "There for you" - our registered charity for members which has been around for over 100 years. It is in the top 500 charities and in the last 18 months there has been a 400% increase in our members asking for help.

Julia said that research had shown that next to seeking employment protection at work; welfare support and services was the 2nd reason given by non members on why they would join UNISON.  Julia thanked branch welfare officers and regional committees for all their help in dealing with the huge increase in case work..

A growing area for help is for victims of domestic abuse where members need to leave the family home. Julia's team can agree emergency help over the telephone to put food on the table or make sure their house is kept warm - until they can assess the application form. UNISON Winter fuel and school grants are very welcome even though only they are only £40-£50, this is enough to buy new shoes for children.

They also run a "Well being" programme for the long term sick which can help with breaks for the sick or disabled members and their carers.

There is a 24/7 Debt telephone line programme which will undertake a full fact find and provide for free a "full range of solutions to problems".

Working with Credit unions who charge far, far, far less in interest than payday loans and other loan sharks is a new development.  Branches can work with employers to encourage payroll deductions which can result in very quick access to loans for members.

This was well received presentation and in the Q&A many thanked Julia and her colleagues for the work they do and wanted to know more about how to access the services for their own members.

(picture of Julia with our Community SGE Chair Kevin Jackson)

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