Mentor or buddy new UNISON activists

If you’re already active in your branch, and want to make it even stronger, why not support new reps and activists?

UNISON is committed to making sure that every rep has a named contact, buddy or mentor to support them. Could you pass on your wisdom?

The mentoring system works differently at each UNISON branch; smaller branches have an informal buddy system and larger ones have a formal mentoring scheme.

Sometimes a mentor is seen as someone very experienced whose role is to teach a new person the ropes.Others see a mentor as someone who is skilled in asking questions, listening, and encouraging the person they’re mentoring to work things out for themselves.

In UNISON, something between the two will usually work best.

Practical forms of support can include inviting new reps to observe and assist in advising and organising members, participating in meetings with management through shadowing and mentoring, and  setting up meetings between new and more experienced stewards.

Some branches may want to train several more experienced activists to act as mentors for new reps over a set timescale of a few months. For other branches, this role is already carried out effectively by the branch secretary or education co-ordinator.

For more information see the Resources section below for the Developing and Supporting Activists Guide to Branches. This also contains the Trained and Active planning form for reviewing development needs with activists and an online Word version that you can easily enter to and save is in the Resources section too.

The key roles for a mentor or buddy will be to:

  • talk to the rep about their training or other development needs;
  • direct them to key people in the branch;
  • encourage new reps to work out solutions to issues as they arise;
  • help them find ways to follow up actions from courses and put their learning into practice.