Solidarity with Colombians as COVID compounds crisis

There is still time for branches to make donations to the president’s charity

Nomadesco logo on an orange background, with a small circular picture of a Colombian girl

COVID-19 dominates so much of the news and our thoughts here in the UK at present that it can be easy to forget the non-COVID issues that people continue to face around the world.

These problems have no ‘pause for pandemic’ button and for the most part, have been made even more acute in the light of the crisis.

In the two weeks to 10 August, Colombia was reported to have the fourth most confirmed COVID-19 cases in the world, with more than 12,000 reported deaths to date.

For Colombians, the virus has compounded ongoing issues in the region, with reports of violently enforced cartel lockdowns during the pandemic.

Now, more than ever, people need the skills and the confidence to empower their communities and organise for change.

Nomadesc, UNISON president Josie Bird’s chosen charity for her year of office, is a human rights organisation that works to support communities, trade unions and social movements in the south west of the country, with a focus on communities affected by forced displacement.

On trips to the region, Josie has seen first-hand how the charity helps people live “fulfilling lives in incredibly volatile situations”.

She saw the problems caused by the almost non-existence of public services and the absolute lack of secure employment in Columbia as a “cautionary tale” of extreme neoliberalism.

Everything we believe in

With its roots in a public services trade union, it is unsurprising that Nomadesc’s principles closely mirror those of UNISON. The organisation gives people the skills and confidence to advocate for themselves and their communities, empowering women and organising for change.

As Josie says, “It’s everything that we believe in.

“This sort of organisation operates on virtually nothing. Nomadesc is trying to train more human rights advocates to support those communities and help organise them to resist attacks. I want to fundraise so they’re able to do that more effectively.”

When naming Nomadesc as her presidential appeal, she picked out two areas that she is keen to see UNISON’s donations develop:

  • running awareness and confidence workshops for young people, “to give them the strength to resist and the confidence to live a good life”;
  • identifying people with natural leadership skills and training them to become human rights advocates and community leaders.

While Josie’s term as president is coming to a close, there is still time for UNISON branches and members to show solidarity with persecuted communities in Colombia by supporting the appeal.

Please make cheques payable to UNISON and send them to:

Joan Walker, UNISON, 130 Euston Road, London NW1 2AY, quoting reference ‘president’s project 2019’.

Alternatively, your branch can make a BACS payment – please contact Joan at for more details.

You can order leaflets about the charity at the UNISON online shop.