Our branch, which represents over 7,000 local government and public service workers across North Yorkshire, has donated a further £2,500 to food banks across the county.
We have also donated over £15,000 this year to UNISON’s own support fund for its members, ‘There For You’, as well as a total of £5,500 to the North Yorkshire food banks.
Our Branch Secretary, Wendy Nichols, said: “This year has been like no other year we have experienced. Our members have been on the frontline supporting their local communities; looking after our elderly residents in care homes and in the community, looking after our children in schools and nurseries, and delivering essential public services throughout the Covid-19 crisis.
“Whilst delivering these essential services, they and their families have not been immune to the impact of Covid. Some have been put on furlough in the private sector, losing 20% of their income. Some have lost their jobs, or had family members who have lost their jobs. Many have had to take unpaid leave to look after children. Those who work in the private sector have often had to self-isolate knowing that they will only get paid Statutory Sick Pay of £95.85 a week.
“We have received unprecedented volumes of calls and emails from our members this year looking for support and advice at work, but also seeking financial support.
“Trade unions are about coming together to support each other. UNISON provides a fund that members and their families can apply to for financial support, and we felt it was right to contribute a further £5,000 to the fund which is open to our members here in North Yorkshire but also UNISON members across the country. This is in addition to the £10,000 we donated earlier this year.”
Mrs Nichols explained that the branch also wanted to help support the local communities that our members work in. She said:
“In addition to supporting our own fund, we wanted to support the food banks across North Yorkshire. We have donated a further £500 each to the food banks in Harrogate, Skipton, Selby, Scarborough and Northallerton. This is in addition to the £3,000 donated earlier this year.
“People might be surprised to learn of the demand for food banks in North Yorkshire. Sadly, there are lots of people living in the county who were already struggling on low incomes and unsecure work even before Covid. Covid has made a difficult situation even worse for many people. Hambleton Food Share, for example, has seen an 80% increase in the number of food parcels it has issued this year compared to last year. Last month alone they gave out 268 food parcels.
“I wish it wasn’t the case that there are people in North Yorkshire who are having to rely on food banks. However, until the government takes seriously the issues of low wages, poor sick pay and unsecure work such as ‘zero-hour’ contracts, the food banks will continue to be needed.”