There for You is there for UNISON members who experience hard times. In the current coronavirus crisis, that’s pretty much everyone.
As our welfare charity, There for You is helping more and more members who find that their limited income has been hit by the crisis.
For many members, asking for financial help from There for You is something they’d only consider on a rainy day they hoped would never actually arrive.
But it has.
For too many UNISON members, this pandemic means the rain is pouring down and they risk being flooded out.
Some are losing work and have no income because they are on zero-hour contracts.
Some are having their hours cut or being made redundant without redundancy pay.
Many are also facing a situation where someone in the household is self-employed and family income has drastically dropped.
Some members and their families are self-isolating. So members need emergency grants from There for You.
Helping members in this situation is what UNISON and our welfare charity is here for. It’s basic solidarity.
And our branches can help extend that solidarity by making a donation to There for You (see below for details).
Here are just some examples of what we’ve done so far and why we need support from UNISON branches (names have been changed to protect the members’ privacy).
Cath applied for help with funeral costs for her partner.
The current coronavirus restriction mean there will only be a private cremation.
But Cath is hoping to have a memorial service at a later date so that her young son can say goodbye properly to his dad.
There for You has made a grant to cover cremation costs, and an additional grant to help with living costs.
Gloria’s mum passed away on 26 March due to COVID-19.
Gloria used all of her income to pay for healthy meals for her mum, and to travel a long way to support her, as care workers were not allowed to attend the property.
This meant extending her overdraft and going into rent arrears due to increased and unforeseen expenditure.
Gloria’s only sibling is self-employed and currently unable to work. They have no other family to call on for emotional or financial support.
There for You was able to provide help with funeral costs.
Anika lives with her two adult children in a housing association property.
She was already struggling after her benefits and child maintenance were stopped when her youngest turned 20. Her income just about pays bills and everyday costs.
She recently returned from her first trip abroad in years and was in self isolation, having been told by employer not to return to work for 14 days.
She is now back at work but has lost two weeks money which will hit her April pay.
Anika is afraid of failing behind with household bills, which is giving her anxiety, because of a monthly shortfall of around £328.
There for You has been able to help with an immediate financial grant.
Desta was a key-worker.
She lives with her youngest child and three adult sons.
UNISON is supporting her on an unfair dismissal case. She has also had major health problems, along with significant financial difficulties, exacerbated by fact that her adult sons are all self-employed and their work has dried up.
Desta’s main concern is paying for rent and needs of her youngest child.
There for You has helped with money towards rent arrears and the youngest child’s needs.
How can your branch help?
Your branch can make donations to There for You by direct bank transfer to:
Account name: Unison Welfare (Charity) There for You
Unity Trust Bank
Sort code: 60-83-01
Account number: 20215147.
Please also include a reference, consisting of your branch number and the letters COV to identify the type of donation. To be doubly sure, it would help if branches email There for You’s Olga Zakharenko on email@example.com when they’ve made a donation.
The There for You offices at UNISON Centre in London are currently closed and not receiving mail, so please don’t send cheques.
A number of branches have asked if they can donate to There for You from their industrial action funds. The short answer is: given the extraordinary circumstances – Yes, to a maximum of 5% of industrial action fund.
However this decision to use up to 5% of industrial action funds must be agreed by either a branch committee or the chairperson, branch secretary and treasurer.
The union’s rules allow branches to transfer 5% of their industrial action fund to general funds each year, if that is agreed by a general meeting of members.
But the coronavirus lock-down and social distancing measures mean meetings can’t take place for branches to make that democratic decision.
After careful consideration, UNISON’s presidential team – the most senior lay members of the union – has agreed to take the decision on behalf of all branches in this unique situation.
This means that every branch can donate up to 5% of its industrial action fund to the national There for You fund.
Like the welfare charity, branches’ industrial action funds are there to provide solidarity for members in rainy days.
And it’s pouring down: for our members; for health workers and care workers; for frontline and many unsung workers providing key services at this crucial time; for members who are affected by COVID-19 or a loss of income.
Our members need us. They need our support and solidarity. And your branch can help provide it.
We are raising funds to help our members who are suffering from the effects of the coronavirus on them or their families, either directly or indirectly.
If however the appeal raises more funds than are needed, so that we cannot apply them for this purpose, we will use any excess funds for the charity’s general purposes of relieving poverty and hardship for our members.