15 Aug 2022

Council unanimously backs workers in Supporting People Programme

L-R - Niall McCarroll (UNISON Community Branch Chairperson), Councillor Darren O'Reilly and Saoirse Fanning and Sarah Jane O'Hara (UNISON Branch Officers).
The local council has unanimously backed a motion in support of frontline workers in the Supporting People Programme who assist those affected by domestic violence, addictions and other social issues. The motion was brought before Derry City and Strabane District Council by Independent Councillor Darren O’Reilly and amended by Sinn Féin Cllr Patricia Logue. It reads: “That this Council recognises the specialist work being carried out by frontline workers through the Supporting People Programme and backs the workers trade union, UNISON in their call for an independent review into the Supporting People “Any such review must have the direct involvement of UNISON and all other staff side representatives and advocates with a specific focus of highlighting the experiences and work completed by frontline workers and the need to ensure this work continues to provide much needed services to some of the most vulnerable people in our society and further calls on this Council to ensure that human rights and equality protections are part of any terms of reference for any independent review. “An invitation to be sent to UNISON to present to Council their concerns and workplace experiences. A further invite to the programme providers and others to explain differences in the terms and conditions for those employed in the Supporting People Programme.” UNISON has backed the workers throughout, and prior to the council meeting, urged elected members to support the motion. Yesterday, Niall McCarroll UNISON Community Branch Chairperson said the Supporting People Campaign has now taken a very positive step forward. Before the full council meeting UNISON held a Rally of Support for all frontline workers outside the NIHE offices, at the Richmond Chambers building. Mr McCarroll commented: “The purpose of this rally was to show all those who use supported living services and indeed the frontline workers that UNISON will be taking our campaign right to the front doors of all those statutory bodies with responsibility within the Supporting People Programme, demanding they start to value, service users, workers and indeed working class communities. “UNISON Community Branch activists worked closely with Independent Councillor Darren O’Reilly and Sinn Fein Councillor Patricia Logue in ensuring that the motion was not just aspirational but also radical in its core aims, this has now become the corporate position of DCSDC with regards the UNISON motion and we thank both councillors for their time and solidarity. “When council re convenes after the upcoming elections a delegation of UNISON Community Branch frontline workers will be invited by Council to give a presentation detailing their concerns, experiences and how they are struggling to survive both economically and socially, whilst completing specialist work supporting families and individuals at risk.” ‘Corporate greed’ DCSDC will then invite the Department for Communities, Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Western Health and Social Care Trust, Regulation & Quality Improvement and all relevant employers within the City and District to provide further evidence which UNISON believes will further detail the crisis facing the Supporting People Programme and also “expose inequality and corporate greed, where it exists.” Mr McCarroll continued: “UNISON would like to put on record our gratitude to the elected representatives on DCSDC who supported the motion, a motion which clearly shouts out for social justice, equality, to uphold human rights and reflects solidarity to all frontline workers and those who need support and guidance through the Supporting People Programme. “The UNISON Community Branch Supporting People Campaign will now move into other working class communities across the North of Ireland, seeking support from the other 10 councils, gathering momentum, strength, power and influence as we ultimately reach a point that an independent review is commissioned or those choosing to block any review are removed from their positions by the trade union movement and radical campaigning involving ,working class communities.” L-R: Niall McCarroll (UNISON Community Branch Chairperson), Councillor Darren O'Reilly and Saoirse Fanning and Sarah Jane O'Hara (UNISON Branch Officers).

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