‘They are not just heroes within our union – they’re heroes to their communities too’

It was great to be in Walsall today to speak to the UNISON West Midlands health conference.

Being general secretary means there are often many demands on my time and I don’t get to as many of our regional conferences as I’d like, but it was so good to be with passionate, dedicated health workers.

They are not just heroes within our union – they’re heroes to their communities too. And not just those working on the frontline or those helping tackle physical illnesses (vital though they are), but also those working in all too often overlooked and underfunded mental health services, and those working behind the scenes keeping the NHS running.

That’s why we’ve launched the Our Health Heroes awards, recognising and promoting the enormous contribution support workers make in delivering patient care and celebrating those who take special pride in their roles.

I’m proud of the job people who work in the health service do 24 hours a day, seven days a week. UNISON will always fight their corner against this government – by any means possible.

But there are millions of people around the country who rely on health workers each and every day who also would like an opportunity to say thank you.

That’s why we wanted to put those people and their thanks for public service champions at the centre of UNISON’s latest major campaign.

You might already have seen the adverts in stations, on public transport or on billboards around the country.

The posters tell real stories of people whose lives have been improved, or even saved by public servants. We wanted to highlight how much every employee matters and encourage the public to give their thanks too.

We launched this campaign because in UNISON we know how vital it is to stand up for public services and the people that provide them.

Many UNISON members feel the services they provide are undervalued and that higher demand combined with a lack of funding means they are having to try and do much more with much less.

So we’re putting a huge amount of time and energy in the months ahead into campaigning, advertising and public awareness work to show how much our public services matter.

Because winning the argument about the importance of services and public servants is crucial if we are going to win the political argument for better funding.