Your first time at conference?

UNISON conference takes place in June. So what’s it all about?

National delegate conference – or NDC as it’s generally called – is UNISON’s policy-making body. It’s our democracy in action.

Every year elected delegates meet to decide the policy and campaigning priorities of the union.

This is of the upmost importance as government cuts and privatisation of public services are having a devastating effect on the jobs and working conditions of our members – and the services they are doing their best to provide to the public.

Nearly all branches send delegates to NDC, but if yours is unrepresented this time, we hope you’ll be there next year.

What goes on and where is it taking place?

Some 2,000 delegates are meeting in Brighton from Tuesday 17 to Friday 20 June.

They will receive reports on the union’s activities over the year and its finances, and debate motions submitted by branches, regions and other union bodies to decide the way ahead.

Three service group conferences – local government; water, environment and transport; and energy – also take place on Sunday 15 and Monday 16 June.

All four conferences take place at the Brighton Centre, which is also the venue for fringe meetings, on the town’s sea front.

We’ll be reporting on the conference on our website and on twitter – @unisontweets Join in the conference conversation on #uLGC14 for Local Government Conference and #uNDC14 for National Delegate Conference. It’s a great way to make new friends.

I’ve heard people talk about the UNIZONE area of conference. What’s that?

UNIZONE is where you can find out about all the services UNISON offers members.

You can chat to representatives from our legal team and from the union’s welfare charity, There for You, and get advice about learning and organising.

The more you know about the services the better placed you are to help members at your workplace.

This will be my first time as a conference delegate and I’m not sure what to expect. What support is there for people like me?

First of all, be sure to have a look at UNISON TV’s short film made specially for new delegates.

It’s signed and subtitled and you’ll find the link below.

You’ll find all the information you need in your conference pack, and other members of your delegation or your regional representative will be more than willing to offer you help if you need it.

Don’t be afraid to ask – we were all first-time delegates once!

The most important thing for new delegates to understand is why you’re there: to represent your fellow members, to put forward their views, report back on policy decisions – and perhaps speak on a motion.

Conference can be a little daunting at first and conference language can be jargon heavy, but you’ll soon get into the swing of things.

Do you have any tips for new delegates?

Look out for the briefings for new delegates, organised by regions and at conference itself – and watch the online film.

Make contact with your regional representative, who should be able to answer your questions.

Carry your credentials at all times – you can’t get into conference without them.

Make sure you take the essential paperwork with you every day: the conference guide and agenda, voting card, card votes – if you are looking after them for your branch – and relevant reports.

Listen carefully to the standing orders committee’s reports to conference which will keep you up to date with what’s happening.

Is it all terribly serious?

No. Going to conference is a great opportunity to meet fellow members from across the country and from different sectors.

There are fringe meetings, social events and plenty of opportunities for a good natter across a meal or a drink.

Enjoy yourself!

UNISON film for new delegates