Welfare Week – Blog post from our Welfare Officer

Posted in Branch news
As UNISON recognises Welfare Week, we thought it would be a great opportunity to check in with our Welfare Officer for UNISON North Tyneside Branch – Aude Peebles

Q. Can we start by you telling us a bit about how you got involved in UNISON?

I have been a member of Unison (previously NALGO) for nearly 41 years from commencement of my employment with North Tyneside Council.  To be honest all I knew about UNISON was that I was paying monthly subcriptions, I never took any interest in what they were there for until approximately 6 years ago when my role at that time was deleted and I was offered a temporary post for 1 year leaving me in a crisis situation with huge concerns financially.  I contacted UNISON for advice, their support and advice was amazing and reduced the stress I was experiencing and ensured that I was treat fairly and with respect and luckily I still have my job today.

Q. What made you want to become a Welfare Officer for There For You?

My work experience is of working with people in CRISIS and I felt that my experience could be transferred over to members of UNISON to provide information, advice and services at a local level, and to ensure members are aware of services that are on offer, as I myself was unaware.   I like to be able help and make a difference to peoples lives.  I felt the need to give back to UNISON the support and advice I had personally received in the past.

Q. Could you give us an overview of what There For You offers to members?

Members experiencing financial and emotional difficulties can contact There For You, which provides a confidential advice and support service.   Debt advice, listening and support, financial assistance, breaks and holidays, foodbank referrals,  E.g. Covid-19 response fund (if you are suffering financially as a result of coronavirus), Financial Assistance (can offer one off grants when experiencing financial difficulties due to unexpected reasons such as  loss of income, relationship breakdown, bereavement, suffering from a long illness, caring for someone with special needs/illness).  Help can be provided for e.g. general living costs, household appliances, urgent repairs, utility bills, funeral costs. Provides advice re debt,  budget planner, benefit calculator.  Winter Fuel grant, School Uniform grant, Wellbeing Breaks- this can include assisting with recovery from illness to help prepare for a return to work (illness that has prevented attendance at work for at least 3 months – member must be still absent or on a phased return at time break is taken), members diagnosed with a serious illness in last 12 months, members suffering the ongoing effects of PTSD or long COVID which has seriously impacted on your health and income.

.  PLEASE NOTE: to be eligible for financial assistance you must have been a member of UNISON for at least 4 weeks and up to date with subscriptions. 

UNISONS Winter Fuel Fund opens 31 January 2022 – the fund offers grants of up to £200 and is designed to help UNISON’s most vulnerable low-income members.

Q. What are the biggest reasons UNISON members contact There For You? 

I am new into this role, however I would say that there has been an increase in enquiries re advice on benefit eligibility, and also I supported a member who was struggling financially and was unable to afford a washing machine which was an essential purchase due to their employment (uniform needed changing daily), a successful application and a very happy member  

Q. What impact has the pandemic had on UNISON members seeking support from There For You? The impact of the pandemic has had a huge impact on members, especially the lower paid, loss of hours etc has caused financial issues, increased cost of Utilities, food etc, breakdown of essential whitegoods etc

Q. How do UNISON members get in touch if they want support from There For You?

Download application form and return with supporting paperwork – https://www.unison.org.uk

Contact NT Unison – 0191 6438953 email: unison@northytneside.gov.uk