PCS R&C Benton Park View Branch

For members of the PCS Union at Benton Park View

Disability

National Disabled Members' forum

The national disabled members forum (NDMF) is a national executive committee (NEC) sub-committee. Each group, national branch, region and nation disability network is entitled to send a representative to the NDMF.

We meet up to three times a year to discuss and address challenges and barriers faced by disabled people and to share success stories and best practice.

The NDMF aims to be proactive and supportive in the way it works to develop campaigns, policies and collective bargaining issues to protect and enhance the rights of disabled people in the workplace and in wider society.

Our current priorities focus on how the combination of the government’s welfare reforms, cuts and austerity measures is having a disproportionately negative impact on disabled people.

The NDMF chair is Fran Heathcote, PCS vice president. Some NEC members also participate in this sub-committee.

The secretary is Karen Foster, PCS equality officer, contactable at equality@pcs.org.uk

Equality

Click here to go the Equality section of the main PCS website

Equality is at the heart of everything we do. In the way we organise ourselves and campaign we always strive to ensure we are representing all of our members. Our equality officers work with members to promote equality and tackle discrimination in the workplace, society and the wider world. We are committed to ensuring those members in groups currently under-represented in our union’s structures are encouraged and supported to play a full and active role. We run four national forums for women, black, disabled, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members, which meet regularly to share information and ideas, and advise the national executive on policy.

Equality Support: Help!

Workplace stress:

[11/07/2016]

Incidents of workplace stress are on the rise, perhaps even exacerbated at the moment by the levels of anxiety felt by people on both sides of the EU referendum result two weeks ago. It's something that we all need to be more aware of if we're to reduce the stigma surrounding mental ill health and create an environment where it's safe to talk.

John Halligan, Senior Union Support Officer for the North West TUC, spoke to the PCS Women’s Conference in Birmingham on Sunday 26th June about Mental Health in the workplace. He opened his talk with some startling statistics gathered from a variety of sources including the Mental Health Charity MIND, ACAS and The World Health Organisation. Do take a moment to ponder that…

The mood at #PCSwomen16 was quiet as we took those statistics on board. Many of the delegates, made up of PCS caseworkers and activists as well as ordinary PCS members like you, had experiences to share that backed up those statistics. I won't share those stories here out of a respect for the privacy of those members but suffice to say that mental ill health is common and if not affecting you directly, statistically it is certainly affecting at least some of your colleagues.

Good management and appropriate responses can make a real difference to your experiences at work and there are already some great, but underused, resources on our Departmental website. It is important that PCS members who are managers encourage other managers in their area take a look at the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advice on the six potential causes of workplace stress. Adopting management styles that mitigate those causes can even prevent some of the worst effects of mental ill health on PCS members. There is a great tool available called the ‘Stress Reduction Plan’ which helps members, in discussions with their managers, to identify their main stress triggers and, if acted upon, the in-built action plan provides a framework for resolving or minimising issues and for identifying where reasonable adjustments might be appropriate. (...in addition to Departmental guidance see also: Causes of stress). Your local PCS reps have a wealth of knowledge and experience and can help you to get it right.

Allison Huggins
PCS BPV Branch Equality Officer


Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) and the Calais Refugees:

[05/07/2016]

Zita Holbourne, from the PCS National Executive Committee, spoke at the PCS Women’s seminar in Birmingham on 25th June in a short but powerful speech on the work of her charity BARAC (Black Activists Rising Against Cuts) and their involvement with an attempt last Saturday (18th June 2016) to take a large humanitarian convoy of over 250 lorries full of aid to the refugee camps at Calais.

While in France Zita’s colleagues saw and filmed a march within the camps led by highly educated Eritrean women asking for their rights as human beings to be honoured (available on YouTube). She spoke of how they are degraded by having only 30 toilets shared between several thousand women. How they had been separated from male relatives, sons, husbands, fathers and brothers, in order to become eligible for women only accommodation in a former holiday camp. How for the women this is preferable to living in flimsy tent like structures that is insecure and often destroyed by the weather. How pregnant women are walking several miles simply to have a shower at a humanitarian aid centre in a different town. About the dangers that women and children are facing in the camps on a daily basis. Essentially spelling out how much the aid in those 250 Lorries is desperately needed.

The convoy set off from Downing Street having booked out an entire Ferry but the French Authorities refused to allow the convoy to board turning them away at the port. Various reasons were given to each driver from security and terrorism risks, worries about ‘migrant traffic’ to the inability of the police to cope given the focus needed for the crowds of football fans enjoying the Euros. It’s amazing that an event of this scale didn’t make it onto the mainstream news channels when all of the aid collected by volunteers and well-wishers was forced to turn back.

The convoys will try again, indeed they set off every six weeks or so, usually in smaller numbers, and are regularly distributing essential items to anyone in need (not just the women mentioned above). There is a ‘go fund me’ account for anyone who wants to donate or to sponsor an aid convoy. There is also a room set aside at PCS headquarters in London as a pick-up point for donated items. (...for more information on how to get involved see: Black Activists Rising Against Cuts).

Allison Huggins
PCS BPV Branch Equality Officer


PCS women's seminar in Birmingham:

[01/07/2016]

Travelling back from the PCS women's seminar in Birmingham I picked up my newly purchased copy of National Executive Committee (NEC) member Zita Holbourne’s book ‘Striving for Equality Freedom and Justice’.

Her art and poetry is very moving, describing her childhood in Peckham and exploring ideas of culture and identity, motherhood, life experiences, activism and her support for those fleeing climate change, poverty and war.

As I read I began to worry that, despite my admiration, Zita and I have very little in common, very few shared experiences. This led me to ponder how much I understand of your different experiences as members in our branch - BAME members, disabled members, LGBT members, men, women, older, younger, those with caring responsibilities, those with different working patterns or members in all the grades.

How might one person, with a very personal window on the world, be effective as our Branch’s Equality Officer? Rather than being overwhelmed by that thought I gave myself permission to take it one step at a time, to listen to your stories and to tell you some of my own via this new Support.

I’ll do the very best that I can with the time I have available to widen my understanding of the issues that matter to you, whichever equality group you fall into.

I do hope that you enjoy, and are challenged and energised, by what you read here and that you’ll come into room BP2224 and talk to me and the other excellent PCS reps and Branch Officers you’ll find there.

Allison Huggins
PCS BPV Branch Equality Officer

 

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