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This year will be a year long focus on the important issues that affect Black members and their everyday lives, more information can be found on the main UNISON website, download the UNISON black workers leaflet.

One of our new stewards, Mary along with our Black Members Officer, Luqman attended the National Black Members Conference recently, and Mary has provided an insight of her time at the conference, which has been wrote from the heart.

“I was very happy to attend this year’s Black Members Conference in Edinburgh. It is the year of the Black Workers 2023 which made that more exciting for me. This was my first time at a Unison Conference. What was I to expect? I was not sure, I just knew that it was a long journey and I would not be out of pocket. It was a new experience for me as I am a nervous traveller and find stepping out of my comfort zone very difficult, but as it was the year of the Black Worker, I was going to take a big step towards changing me for the better. The conference was very inspiring, lots of likeminded people that all looked like me talking about issues that have affected me as a black worker. I was no longer a minority trying to explain why, how and what had happened to me. There were people speaking their truth that resonated for me. I felt impowered, motivated and determined to make positive changes even if I was the minority when I went back to my place of work. The networking and support for the attendee was exceptional, we all talked about sustainable work, sustainable impact and making positive changes for the future. The conference looked at how Black Members could be welcome in Unison, what barriers there was and how Unison as an organisation would help to change it. The area which I related to was for better access to pay, career progress, participation, inclusivity and lessening the barriers because of race and colour. They looked at legacy to change and practical steps it will take. Its not just a tick box it is more than that. I suffered with my Mental Health because of work last year, I realised I was not alone in this. Racism at work, pay and inclusivity effected so many but the members at Unison had somewhere they could talk and look at National level of change. What I realised, I walked a hard road to get what I believe was just. There are so many other Unison members which are going through the same thing. I have the support of a few, but with the conference it showed me that with issues there are people that are changing things for everyone. Together we are stronger. If the collective of people that had told me what they had gone through my path may not have been so long and I would not have waded so deep. I had a few that pulled me up, but can you image how easy it would have been if the collective with the same issues as me was there to pull me up. I would not have felt the pull down at all, pressure would have been distributed and the outcome would have more weight and less lasting impact on my life. I realise that Unison is not just a activism organisation it is a family of likeminded people that just want justice for what they believe is an important part of human life. I am not just a member or rep I would like to be a person that is a movement for a positive change. I have always said if you don’t vote in elections then your opinions do not actually matter. This conference showed me my vote was a vote for change, not just local issues, it impacts on a National level not just in my own area of work but other areas. There was passion in their agreements for change. Unison is as strong as its membership. Professor Gus John was inspirational in his speech. It made me want to make an impact. First start make a Unison board at work and sign members up. Many member make a force to be reckoned with. I made some friends at the conference new and old which makes me look forwards to the next conference and local unison meetings.

If like Mary, you would like to become more involved within the branch, please get in touch, UNISON@barnardos.org.uk or 0800 980 9915.