Prentis opens new Northern region ‘shopfront’ centre

Resource centre in Ashington Town will cover three branches and help keep the union visible

New ‘shopfront’-style UNISON resource centres are a new way of organising in local communities and making the union visible, general secretary Dave Prentis said today, as he opened a new centre in Ashington, Northumberland.

The office, in Station Road, Ashington Town, is a new initiative for the union’s Northern region, with three branches spread across a wide geographical area and covering both health and local government members working together to open the new shop.

Mr Prentis said: “This is a fantastic asset – a place where UNISON members can join up, get advice and support and report problems.

“It’s one of a number of new shop-style branch offices across the UK that are helping to make UNISON more visible in the community.

“At a time when this government is trying to isolate unions and make organising in the workplace more difficult, it is more important than ever that we are seen as part of the local community – open and accessible to all.”

Opening the office, alongside branch and regional activists, convenor Clare Williams and local MP Ian Lavery, Mr Prentis said that this was another example of the union’s capacity to change and develop new ways of organising, which would help us to “win our fight against this Tory government and ensure our union grows even stronger.”

Ms Williams explained that the three branches – Northumberland Local Government, Northumbria Healthcare and Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust – covered a vast area “and this venture will enable our members and activists to have a central location in Northumberland which is welcoming and accessible.”

The centre is the second such venture that Mr Prentis has opened in days, after he cut the ribbon at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow last Thursday.