Meet the young members of the trade union movement

Oct 6, 2017 · 9 min read

November is officially Young Workers’ Month. Though we know many UNISON members will always be young at heart, in UNISON members count as ‘young’ if they are 27 or under.

So to celebrate Young Workers’ Month, we caught up with 27 members who are under 27.

Young workers are not ‘the future.’ They’re here right now. All too often young workers’ views are overlooked, their development neglected, and their pay and conditions worse than older workers, even if they do exactly the same job.

UNISON is working for a better deal for young workers.

Follow Young Workers’ Month on Twitter #ywm17

Anastasia Davies

Anastasia Davies, 26, children’s social worker

Anastasia works as a children’s social worker and likes to draw sports cars in her spare time. She enjoys being in UNISON, because “You have the support, motivation and expertise of friendly people from many professions, who you can learn from and work with to make successful changes in your work place, as we did in mine.”

Anastasia has attended the national and regional delegates conferences this year. “It was amazing to meet so many passionate and caring people, who want the best for their colleagues. I was inspired by the stories and achievements made through the power of getting together through the union to make positive change.”

Damien George, 23, apprentice surveyor

Damien George

Damien became a UNISON rep because he once had a problem at work and doesn’t want anyone else to go through the same thing. “I would definitely encourage other young people to join UNISON.”

In his spare time he likes swimming, hiking and playing football. “I just pass the ball to players who are more likely to score than I am.”

Ben Whetherall, 25, parking services officer

Ben is the young members officer for his branch.

“If you care about a campaigning issue or you want to make your views heard, then UNISON is very supportive with that. And it has over a million members, so it lends a great deal of weight to your voice.”

Sinead Liddy, 26, community support worker

Sinead is a support worker for people with learning disabilities. She recently had her first holiday ever and went to New York.

Sinead once saved the life of someone in a lake, even though she can’t swim herself.

Andrew Anderson, 24, health care assistant

Andrew works at a mental health trust. He hasn’t told his mum quite how dangerous his work on a psychiatric intensive care unit can be.

We think he could be our future prime minister. He enjoys playing pool.

Shipha Begum, 22, biomedical support worker

Shipha works as a biomedical support worker. She took part in the confidence skills for young women training. “UNISON is one of the most rewarding and supportive networks to be part of,” she says. “You’ll never feel alone.”

Chloe Savin, 24, police call handler

If you’re based in Devon or Cornwall and you call the police you could end up speaking to Chloe. When she’s not working as a call handler she has some very active hobbies, including rugby and mountain biking. And of course, she’s a big fan of UNISON.

“UNISON is a great support and is always campaigning to improve the working conditions and pay for public services.”

Timothy Sykes, 25, administrator

Timothy Sykes is an administrator for the NHS, a UNISON rep, the vice-chair of his local constituency Labour Party and a volunteer with the Sea Cadets. Pretty lazy guy really. Timothy first joined UNISON because his parents told him to, then had a problem at work and his “wonderful UNISON rep” was there for him. Sometimes parents are right.

Rhian Davey, 26, administrator

Rhian Davey works for Scottish and Southern Energy. She was told to join UNISON by a friend and is very glad she did, “I had a child so when I came back to work I had to reduce my hours and try to sort work around childcare and everything like that, and getting the support from my branch was really good. That’s one of the reasons I’m really glad that I joined.”

Hannah Lapsley, 26, personal carer

Possibly one of the most difficult jobs you can do, but also the most rewarding, is be a personal carer. Twenty-six-year-old Hannah relaxes in her spare time by going horse riding.

Chelsie Wheelwright, 25, income recovery accounts officer

Chelsie works in housing and is a UNISON activist. Like many UNISON members, she needed support and her union rep was incredibly helpful, so she later decided to become active herself. “UNISON was there for me, and I’ve become an activist as a way of putting something back into the system.” She also makes an extremely good carrot cake.

Kuleana Rowan, 24, admin assistant

Kuleana splits her time between working for a UNISON branch and the NHS. The bravest thing she’s ever done is ask for help when she’s needed it, and her hero is her mum. “She’s one of the strongest women I know.”

Jo Wagstaffe, 22, police staff

If you’re a criminal you might not want to come across Jo Wagstaffe. She’s worked in the police force for three years and currently works in investigations. When she’s not investigating, she’s studying criminology and psychology with the Open University. Jo can also dance Latin, ballroom, rock and roll, contemporary and freestyle.

Alex Anthony, 26, project support officer intern

Alex works in local government. He’s learning how to manage projects, shadowing project officers and working on some exciting Crossrail related regeneration activities.

If Alex could do anything he wanted for a day he’d go sailing around Grenada. One of his heroes is George Michael. RIP.

Faye Dumbrill, 25, business support officer

If you ever fancy doing some reading and you’re in Brighton, you would do well to bump into Faye.

She works as a business support officer in Brighton’s main library, and she’s sure to be able to help you find a book.

Faye studied maths at university and she loves combinatorics, a branch of mathematics that’s about counting (we had to look it up).

Not only is she a mathematician, Faye also has a level two qualification in sign-language.

Kendal Bromley-Bewes, 19, student nurse

Kendal is a student nurse from Bristol. She’s also involved with her UNISON branch, her region and the women’s self-organised group. Oh, and she’s also chair of the national young members’ committee, which is a pretty big job by itself.

She loves that she’s got to see different parts of the country through UNISON. “I’ve been to conferences in Brighton, Edinburgh, Leicester, and Newcastle.” We think she’s a potential future UNISON president.

Kati Conway, 26, technical support officer

Kati Conway is a technical support officer in environmental health. A rising UNISON star, Kati already sits on our NEC and played a big part in the campaign to save child tax credits. She once saved the life of someone about to commit suicide.

David Coleman, 23, student

David Coleman studies computing and information systems. He cooks, builds his own websites and does free running (which is like acrobatics crossed with running). Pretty talented guy, it seems.

Zara Louise Poole, 26, senior healthcare assistant

Zara has lived in Germany, Essex, Germany again, and now lives in Wiltshire. She works as a senior healthcare assistant in a private care home. “The best thing about the job is the residents. You get attached to them and you form such a close bond with them.”

Zara’s dad once chased and caught an armed robber.

Joe Dale, 23, housing development

Joe Dale

Joe works in housing development for a local authority in Essex. He likes his job because he’s part of a team that makes a difference. “In a few years’ time I can point to houses in the town and say, ‘We helped build those’.” Joe also enjoys electronic music, and DJs in his spare time.

Sarah Brunskill, 25, school support worker

Sarah works with children aged 11 to 19 with severe learning difficulties. She started out as a volunteer three days per week, and loved it so much that she talked her way into a job. Almost 10 years later she’s still there.

Sarah Walsh, 21, business support officer

Sarah is a business support officer in local government.

One of her heroes is the MP Angela Rayner. “I like that she’s come from a council estate and has achieved so much, and she’s now a Member of Parliament. It’s incredible what strong women can do.”

Angela Rayner was a UNISON young member too. Watch out Parliament, Sarah could be on the way.

Billie Vasquez-Walters, 23, healthcare assistant

Billie is a healthcare assistant in Colchester. She spends her time helping elderly people get dressed, assisting with personal care, feeding, and more. When she’s not doing that, she’s with her two-year-old daughter, and does ceramic and glass painting in her spare time.

Leanne Devlin , 25, customer service adviser

Leanne works for Salford Council. She started working for them as an apprentice and has been there for seven years now. Recently she worked on a project with the police to track down missing young people, which she loved being part of. She’s also dabbled in boxing and street dancing.

Billy Spence, 23, PCSO

When Billie was in school he did a week’s work experience at a police station and decided he needed to join the force. He’s now a police community support officer (PCSO), a job that he loves for the variety. “One day I could be at a road traffic collision, the next day I could be dealing with neighbours having a row, the next day I could be guarding a crime scene.”

Billy joined UNISON because “it’s your protection at work, you’re stuffed without it basically.” Exactly Billy, exactly.

Amber Mitchell, 24, ambulance driver

Amber drives a non-emergency ambulance, which means she takes patients to and from hospital appointments. She has been in UNISON for two years, and has four dogs called Gracie, Harry, Maggie and Elvis. Elvis is a Chihuahua and “a bit of a tart.”

Chantelle Power, 18, receptionist and business apprentice

Chantelle is a receptionist and apprentice in business administration for a charity in Wolverhampton. She’s originally from Glasgow, but has lost the accent. She enjoyed her very first UNISON conference in June this year.

And there they are: 27 of the trade union movement’s finest. These are just some of the thousands of young people working hard to keep our public services running everyday.

We think they deserve a huge,

thank you.

If you’re under 27 years old and you want to hang out with these wonderful people, find out more about joining UNISON and about our young members group.

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