UNISON/BAOT 2023 trade union development programme applications

We are inviting applications to our 2023 RCOT/UNISON trade union development programme. The main event is a two-day residential training course Thursday 23-Friday 24 November, hosted at the University of Warwick.

UNISON and RCOT/BAOT have worked in partnership for decades to deliver high quality training to our dual UNISON/BAOT stewards who represent occupational therapists, occupational therapy support workers.

This year, as well as continuing our offer to existing UNISON/BAOT accredited stewards we have a training strand for new activists and emerging trade union leaders in the occupational therapy workforce.

We are particularly keen to invite applications from occupational therapists and support workers who have started to become active in their local BAOT/UNISON branch, but have not yet enrolled on the formal accredited training course for trade union representatives.

The development offer

All attendees will:

  • Participate in sessions on the development of the occupational therapy profession
  • Consider and respond to the critical employment issues facing OTs, both individually and collectively as a profession
  • Co-create a tailored development pathway, gaining access to the most relevant UNISON College courses where you live
  • Meet occupational therapists trade union representatives from across the UK

New activists and emerging leaders will:

  • Develop key professional skills, such as speaking with confidence in clinical settings
  • Participate in practical workshops, introducing key trade union, campaign, and organising skills

Accredited stewards will:

  • Receive expert briefings on contemporary employment and professional issues
  • Participate on practical workshops, renewing and refreshing practical skills used in your trade union role

Eligibility and expectations

Places are limited. Applicants must be full members of RCOT and UNISON and your application must be supported by your local UNISON branch. Candidates who are not yet accredited stewards, the national UNISON team can assist you in contacting your local branch to seek support. If you are not already a steward or active member it is expected that you will get involved with your branch after the seminar to share your learning.

This is a residential training course. All participants need to be available and on site at the University of Warwick from 12 noon on Thursday 23 November until 1pm on Friday 24 November. UNISON and RCOT are writing jointly to heads of occupational therapy, lead AHPs, and human resource directors to encourage employers to grant you training release if your application is successful.

The course fee is £325 for the first attendee from each UNISON branch and £255 for subsequent attendees from the same branch. If your application is successful, this cost will be paid in full by your UNISON branch. Branches will also cover travel costs and subsistence expenses. This fee covers all materials, accommodation and all food for the duration of the course, lunchtime to lunchtime inclusive.


Participants who complete the course will receive a certificate of attendance. We intend for this course to be appropriate for HCPC registrants to demonstrate learning activities relevant to their practice.


UNISON has worked closely with BAOT/RCOT for almost 30 years and in 2022 we renewed that long standing partnership. Membership of the British Association of Occupational Therapists grants membership of both the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (a wholly owned charitable subsidiary of BAOT) and UNISON – the largest union in the NHS and in the UK as a whole.

Through this arrangement occupational therapists and occupational therapy support workers get access to high quality professional support and advice from RCOT, as well as access to the full UNISON membership offer, including opportunities to become accredited trade union representatives.

And, on top of all both organisations have to offer, we work in partnership to deliver additional training, support, and development for our dual UNISON/BAOT activists.

Our shared strategy is to combine our different areas of expertise to make a positive impact on the profession of occupational therapy, making occupational therapists knowledgeable and powerful in their workplaces and their union.