Young Workers Month 2020 – A Reflection

This year is my final Young Workers Month as a Young Member, this time next year I will have aged out. I feel reflecting on my time as part of Young Members is important because I want whoever becomes our next Young Members Officer and the young members in this Branch to know that there is so much to be learned, gained and do as an active Young Member in Unison.

Being a Young Member in UNISON, particularly in the West Midlands – through the Branch and the region I have learned a lot. There are people in the Branch who have taken me under their wing and I’ll always be grateful for it – and the same goes for in the region – at this point there are a number of people I could call upon if need help or advice in UNISON – some of which are other Young Members too, through being active in the union you build friendships and comradery like no other. In Young Workers month, I want to highlight that the allies you gain in UNISON are countless – from other Young Members, to the branches, region and even nationally, and on those days where you feel like you’re ‘only…’ we are there to pick each other up – and correct that phrase.

The Branch

Being the Branch Young Members officer has been a challenge, trying to engage with apprentices and any other young members, and get young workers voices heard in the Branch Meetings too – its been an important step in my development as a UNISON activist – there is a wealth of knowledge in our Branches waiting to be tapped into, through being the Young Members Officer you can learn a lot. There is also a lot that Young Workers can bring to Branches – not limited to but for example – social media skills, a new perspective, ideas, & skills that the older officers may not have.

West Midlands Young Members Forum

Being on the regional Young Members Forum has been an honour – and being the Chair was an enjoyable experience – and taking our meetings virtual this year has been interesting. It seems to be a more ‘young’ way of working in the age of social media – and working digitally is definitely a way to get young members involved. The meetings leave you with the enthusiasm to fight another day – and the shared experiences of other young workers is unifying. I’m glad that when I age out the forum is full of brilliant young voices who I look forward to seeing more from in the future.

The National Young Members Forum

Sitting on the National Young Members Forum is a really enlightening experience – you get to interact with Young workers from across all different sectors and learn about what is going on at the grass roots across UNISON for young workers. Its an opportunity again, to learn from each other – and to make a change for young workers by sending motions to various conferences and talking with people at a national level about what is important to young workers right now. I’ve enjoyed my time on the forum, and I know I leave it with two very passionate activists in the West Midlands.

As a young worker I’ve been attending conferences, young members meetings, and various committees for a few years now and what always strikes me is the low turnout from young members. Which is a shame, but the voices of the young members who are at these conferences and events are so important and they shine so brightly. I hope that the influx of members we have had in our union will be a reflected at future events and current events will lead to more active Young Members.

Hope for Young Members

I attended an online event the other night around engaging Young Members in unions and it was really interesting – as so many young people are now more politically aware – with a 23 year old MP standing in parliament right now the possibilities are endless of what we can achieve and it shows that young voices matter and are valued. As a union, we need to value the voices of our young members and see more young branch officers (not just Young Members Officers), as well as more young people on regional and national committees. As I come to the end of my time as this Branch’s Young Members Officer, that is my hope and wish – that we will see this change. I know a few Young Members who are now Branch Secretaries, and a few who were under 27 not so long ago who sit in those positions too. We aren’t just the future of UNISON, we are here right now, we matter today – not just tomorrow.

This Branch is where I started my journey, and I’m sure for many years to come it will remain a part of my journey – helping members and fighting for what is right is my passion and I’m thankful UNISON taught me that with the kindness of people I’ve met – and the knowledge of so many activists before me. There is so much potential and Young Members potentials are limitless.

~ Nicola Moran, Young Members Officer.

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