UNISON members discussed the attacks and changes in the world of social care and how to take UNISON campaigns forward in their own workplaces at the union’s national social care and homecare seminar in February.
The seminar was opened by UNISON president and national social care forum chair Chris Tansley, and the main speaker was UNISON member Graeme Ellis.
Mr Ellis talked about his work in social care as well as his role as an employer of personal assistants to support him, and who has had to fight against cuts that his local authority tried to pass through to him.
His speech was a reminder of the media and government’s victimisation of disabled people and other marginalised groups in justifying the huge cuts that are being made in social care.
It will be vital for UNISON to be at the forefront of resisting the cuts as well as combating the widespread vilification of marginalised groups in our society.
Workshops covered a range of topics across social care and homecare and encouraged delegates to get involved in campaigns. Topics included:
- ethical care campaign;
- organising and recruiting in the private and voluntary sector;
- dealing with cuts in children’s services;
- social enterprises co-operatives and mutuals.
Other workshops saw Mathew Sims, who is a UNISON member and personal assistant, give a thoughtful presentation on the issues facing this growing part of the social care workforce as well as providing some useful suggestions on how best the union can recruit and organise in the sector.
Practising radical social work provided an opportunity for social workers to look at how they carry out their role and challenged them and UNISON to organise better in the workplace and to challenge work practices and negative attitudes in the field.
A workshop on key employment issues facing homecare and residential care staff gave guidance on how to deal with some of the perennial issues facing workers in this area as well as flagging up new problems to be looked into.
While health and social care integration gave an overview of the situation across the UK and looked at issues that branches need to consider.