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February 2020

Welcome to our new e-newsletter that gives a monthly round up of news, campaigns, policy responses, training opportunities and resources helping to raise awareness of activity across the sector and promote the engagement of sector activists.

dates for your diary

Regional meeting dates - Unite holds regional meetings three times a year specifically for Unite workplace and branch reps across the Community Youth and Not for Profit Sector. These next meetings will be determining motions to our national sector conference that takes place in November as well offering a great opportunity for reps to meet up with others from across the sector. Please contact the relevant regional officer by email to find out more information about opportunities in your region and more details about the next meeting.

  • East Midlands - Wednesday 5th February, Unite Leicester office, email Rose Mooney for more details.
  • Ireland – Thursday 20 February at 2.00pm at the Unite Belfast Office, email Taryn Trainor for more details.
  • London and Eastern - next meeting tbc, email Alan Scott for more information.
  • North East Yorkshire and Humberside – next meeting tbc, email Brian Cole for more information.
  • North West – next meeting tbc, email Maria Smyth for more information.
  • Scotland – next meeting tbc, email Graeme Turnbull for more information.
  • South East – next meeting tbc, email Terry Abbott for more information.
  • South West – next meeting tbc, email Deborah Hopkins for more information.
  • Wales - next meeting Friday 21st February at 11am, Cardiff regional Office, email Richard Jackson for more details
  • West Midlands – next meeting tbc, email Lynne Shakespeare for more information.

campaigning spotlight

Unite to ballot members at the RSPCA for strike action – This follows an overwhelming vote in a consultative ballot to reject the management’s arbitrary imposition of new ‘performance pay’ contracts. Unite represents more than 700 staff, which is about half the workforce at the UK’s leading animal charity, and the dispute is because of management proposals to replace the recently negotiated incremental pay scheme with a performance pay arrangement which could exacerbate plummeting staff morale in an organisation where bullying has been endemic. The ballot will open on Tuesday (4 February) and will close on Thursday 20 February.

Members at St Mungos balloted for a second time in less than six months – Unite has appealed to the St Mungo's board of trustees to ‘help rebuild trust’ - by persuading senior management to reconsider its position and join last-ditch talks, ahead of the strike ballot result, which is due next Monday (3 February). The dispute is over the tearing up of the junior staffing cap agreement, which risks reinstatement of ‘race to the bottom’ terms and conditions, as well as overly harsh sickness and disciplinary policies. The first ballot in September 2019 missed the 50 per cent legal threshold by one single vote, with 78 per cent of Unite members voting for strike action.

sector news round-up

A memo leaked to The Times suggests that there may be difficult times ahead for Unite members at Oxfam - the leaked document, penned by the Chief Executive, stated that Oxfam is facing a £16m hole in its accounts. This would mean the potential of further job cuts for workers as core costs would have to be reduced to meet expected deficits over the next two financial years. The memo says the charity faces a £7m deficit in 2019/20 and a further £9m deficit in 2020/21 unless it takes action despite having an income of £434.1m in the year to 31 March 2019, an increase of almost £7m on the previous year and significantly above the charity’s £397.5m spending in 2018/19.Unite reps are seeking urgent discussions with management.

Unite leading on pay for youth and community workers - Constituent unions from the Staff Side of the Joint Negotiating Committee for Youth and Community Workers have met to discuss the 2020/21 JNC Pink Book pay claim. Heads of term for the claim have been agreed and constituent unions will feed back further information to our Staff Side Secretary and National Officer, Siobhan Endean, so that a final pay claim can be produced and submitted in March.

One in four young people with mental health referral 'rejected' - One in four children and young people referred to mental health services in England last year were not accepted for treatment, according to data, raising concerns that many are still failing to get vital support at an early stage. Research by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) estimated that more than 130,000 of those referred to specialist services in 2018-19 were “rejected”, among them young people who have self-harmed, suffered eating disorders and experienced abuse. According to the EPI, rejection rates have remained unchanged over the last four years, despite government commitments to address shortages in child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), including an additional £1.4bn investment between 2015 and 2021.

Grenfell advisor withdraws following demands from Unite - Grenfell Tower fire inquiry panel member has resigned after she was linked to the charitable arm of a firm which supplied the block's deadly cladding.  Unite, which is supporting 65 core participants at the Grenfell Inquiry wrote to Benita Mehra, who was appointed as an expert adviser to the inquiry by the prime minister shortly before Christmas, urging her to “recuse” herself from the hearing. It has been revealed that while president of the Women’s Engineering Society from 2015 to 2018, Ms Mehra accepted a grant of £71,000 from the Arconic Foundation, the charitable arm of Arconic. Arconic supplied the flammable ACM cladding which was fixed to the exterior of Grenfell Tower.

Four out of five children in care have special educational needs - Four out of five children taken into care in England during their school years required support for special educational needs (SEN) at some point between the ages of five and 16. The study, which examined data on almost half a million children who began school in September 2005, found that of the 6,240 children who entered the care system during their school years, 83% required additional SEN support.” The report’s lead author, Matthew Jay, said: “Special educational needs can affect a child’s ability to learn and develop and they may struggle with their reading and writing, making friends and concentrating. This type of support can be very important for vulnerable children in contact with social care services.”

MPs warn SPAC Nation is like a 'cult' and call for suspension of its charitable status - The church charity is under investigation by the Charity Commission and Metropolitan Police, following allegations of fraud and exploitation of young people.  Steve Reed, Labour MP for Croydon North, said: “I am convinced that SPAC Nation is a cult” and claimed it mainly targets young black people in poorer parts of London, exploiting them for financial gain. Reed outlined allegations against SPAC Nation, and told MPs that there was a process in which the charity “brainwashed” vulnerable young people. He said that they offer free food to attract young people to come along, and then “vet the young people who turn up and then target those who appear to be the most susceptible”. "They are told that if their life is unsuccessful, their family is poor, that is because they are not giving enough money to God. They call it seed. If you give seed to God, as much as you can lay your hands on, you will become rich. This is the message they try to pump into these young people's heads.”


25th birthday celebrations for the Faith Workers Branch – the branch celebrated its 25th birthday in an event at Conway Hall in London with keynote speakers Rachael Maskell, MP for York Central and former national officer for our sector, Gail Cartmail, who as Assistant General Secretary of Unite is also special adviser to Len McClusky on faith matters, Siobhan Endean our current national officer and Nicole Charlett who supports the branch within the regional structures. The branch is currently a growing part of our sector and are encouraged to continue to work together over the next 25 years as they seek to improve the lot of all who work in or for all the varied faith groups of the UK - be that one of the major Christian denominations, like CofE and Methodist, or the Unitarians and Free Churches, or our Rabbis or Imams, and many others.

National Playwork Conference – the annual conference is taking place in Eastbourne on Tuesday 3rd March & Wednesday 4th March. The National Playwork Conference is an amazing event with over 130 participants and in excess of 40 different sessions to choose from there is always plenty for everyone. You can be really stretched or you can take it easy or just spend time reconnecting with old playwork friends and making new ones. More information at:

campaigning tools 

Bargaining Brief – The latest edition of this useful resource is now available on the Unite website here. (members only)

Work Voice Pay Monthly – Online edition of an activist newsletter available as part of Unite’s industrial strategy, updated each month to bring you the latest bargaining data and news.

Work Voice Pay Toolkit - Unite reps have access to a whole toolkit of resources to support and help all to get organised and win where you work. You need to go to the Unite website and log in to access the toolkit as well as loads of other resources including templates, guides and generators. New resources are added on a regular basis and if you are a Unite rep and you have suggestions for WVP tools, Executive Officer, Sharon Graham would welcome your input.

consultations and reports

Children’s social care providers: inspections regulations 2020 to 2021 - The government are seeking views on proposed changes to the fees and frequency of inspections regulations.

Youngminds - Have your say on early intervention - YoungMinds has launched its Early Intervention Review, investigating what early intervention is available across the UK for young people that need help with their mental health. They are holding a call for evidence asking for youth and children's charities, voluntary sector organisations and providers of early intervention programmes to share their knowledge and evidence about early intervention services, to highlight areas of best practice from across the UK. Deadline is on Friday 28 February. For more information contact [email protected].

Loneliness Annual Report: the first year - The first Annual Report on tackling loneliness provides a progress update since the publication of the cross-government Loneliness Strategy in October 2018.

Period products scheme: impact assessment Government analysis of the potential impact of proposals, set out in the period products scheme, on specific protected groups.

What works for Children's Social Care (WWCSC) need help shaping research priorities - WWCSC are looking for people to join several online panels, including social workers, young people, parents, carers, senior leaders, academics and third sector/private providers. They aim to produce a priority list which will be at the forefront of decision making regarding what research they support in the coming year and beyond. This includes deciding which projects to undertake, where they should invest time, resources and funding, which projects should be awarded grants, or should be included in their Practice in Need of Evidence programme.

Prevent programme referrals statistics published - The Prevent strategy forms part of the Government’s wider counter-terrorism strategy, known as CONTEST which aims to safeguard people from becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism. The Home Office has published statistics on the number of individuals referred to and supported through the Prevent programme from April 2018 to March 2019. Out of a total of 5,738 referrals made in this period, a 22% decrease in comparison with the previous year. 1,563 were referrals of children and young people under the age of 15. The Education sector made the most referrals (1,887), followed by the police (1,650).

funding opportunities

This Girl Can - Community Fund - This fund aims to support women 16+ to get active by offering National Lottery grants to local projects that contribute to overcoming barriers women face in getting active: from a lack of opportunities in their local area, to cost and availability of childcare. They are looking to support a wide range of ideas and projects – from a few hundred pounds, to £10,000. The deadline is on Tuesday 25 February.

Allen Lane Foundation - Social Cohesion Funding - This is a new funding programme, which has been established to provide support to local communities. It will focus on funding projects that aim to proactively break down barriers and tensions between different groups of people, and build a more cohesive and inclusive community for all. The Foundation is particularly concerned about divisions in communities that occurred around the 2016 Referendum and subsequently. The Social Cohesion programme will look to support grassroots organisations at a very local level where there are issues which identify marginalised groups of people (especially those from within the Foundation’s priorities, but not exclusively) who are excluded. Project applications should seek to propose ways to make communities more inclusive for the betterment of all.

Culture Seeds Fund - Communities can now bid for grants ranging from £1,000-£5,000 as part of the Mayor's Culture Seeds Fund to support community-led cultural projects in London. Grants are available to fund arts and culture and heritage projects and activities. This is a two-year rolling programme and the deadline is on Friday 6 March.

Lloyds Bank Foundation - We Fund - Lloyds Bank support charities with an annual income of £25,000 to £1 million with a proven track record of helping people on a journey of positive change through in-depth, holistic and person-centred support with long term funding and tailored support to develop.

The Henry Smith Charity - The Strengthening Communities grant programme is designed to support small charitable organisations working at grassroots level. Through this grant programme they want to make sure that their funding reaches the most disadvantaged areas of the UK, targeting places that are economically marginalised and affected by poverty. The charity also offers the Improving Lives grant programme which is their largest grants programme and provides grants to established charitable organisations that help people and deliver services directly to beneficiaries when other sources of support have failed, are inappropriate, or are simply not available.

The Ragdoll Foundation - The Ragdoll Foundation’s Open Grants scheme has been designed to support the cultural sector’s work with children and young people. They also support initiatives that support the voice of and rights of children and young people. They welcome applications of up to £50,000.

unite for our society

Here’s all the blogs from last month in case you missed any of them.  We are always looking for ideas and contributions so if you have some news or an event coming up then please do let us know.

Workers to be balloted over the imposition of 'bully boy' contracts - Unite will be balloting its members at the RSPCA for strike action following an overwhelming vote in a consultative ballot to reject the management’s arbitrary imposition of new ‘performance pay’ contracts. The ballot will open on Tuesday (4 February) and will close ... Read more 

Appeal to St Mungo’s board to ‘help rebuild trust’ ahead of strike ballot result - Unite has appealed to the St Mungo's board of trustees to ‘help rebuild trust’ by persuading senior management to reconsider its position and join last-ditch talks, ahead of the strike ballot result, which is due next Monday (3 February).   Unite is ... Read more 

Staff at St Mungos urged to vote YES to defend jobs, skills and quality services - Unite believes that its members deserve to be treated fairly and with respect and are urging members to vote for strike action as it reballots workers at St Mungos.  The decision to reballot members has been taken as St Mungos push ahead with changes ... Read more 

Unite urges local authorities to bring Sanctuary Care contracts 'back in house' - Unite is urging local authorities who have contracts with Sanctuary Care to bring them ‘back in-house’ after a criminal investigation was launched into one of its care homes. The union, which has more than 100 members across the Sanctuary Group, has ... Read more 

Wage theft scandal - One in four workers on minimum wage illegally underpaid As the government’s mandatory minimum wage is set to rise to just £8.72 an hour in April, new research by The Resolution Foundation report has revealed that an astounding 25 per cent of minimum ... Read more 

Retail expert to take top job at the NCS Trust - Mark Gifford, Director for Shop and Trade at Waitrose will become the new chief executive of the NCS Trust in March after Michael Lynas announced that he would be stepping down last year. A novice to the voluntary sector, Gifford will ... Read more 

Email blunder at St Mungo’s exposes shameful anti trade union tactics - Unite has called on Howard Sinclair, CEO of homelessness charity St Mungo’s, to step down immediately after a misdirected email revealed that the charity had been working with a top London PR agency on a strategy to stop people joining ... Read more 

Peabody's CEO leaves staff and residents unimpressed - Businesses "driven by money concerns" Last week’s column by Peabody Chief Executive, Brenden Sarsfield (Inside Housing 29/11/2019) makes the call for change many in the social housing sector would want.  But staff and residents are not impressed. Mr Sarsfield writes, “Some say we ... Read more 

We are always looking for ideas and contributions. Our sector is massively diverse but we need to hear from reps and members across the sector about some of the fantastic campaigns or the issues being faced so please do get in touch. You can also support our sector on Facebook; Twitter; Unite for Our Society Website and the Unite Website

Read our last e-newsletter here.

The Cuts
The Cuts

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