Thursday, 25 February 2010

HEAR network event: Personalisation - an equalities perspective

As I’m now sitting at my desk back at the lovely Women’s Resource Centre, the accountable body of HEAR, I realise that I can begin to exhale and breathe again. It has been quite hectic these past weeks to prepare for HEAR’s event on “Personalisation- an equalities perspective”. The entire personalisation agenda is still developing and is very new to a lot of the HEAR members and to the organisations who attended.

What is the entire personalisation agenda about then? Well, in short I would say that it is about choice - users have access to information and advice irrespective of whether they are ‘self’ funded or publicly funded.

It gives people choice and control over their lives, which are important principles that HEAR believes in.

Personalisation is also about finding new collaborative ways of working and developing local partnerships, which produce a range of services for people to choose from and opportunities for social inclusion.

The event went really well - we had a great turnout of people (more than double of the numbers expected), keen on learning more from each other and building on their experiences. I also received a lot of positive and encouraging feedback, which has made me think about what the next step for HEAR could be. It is very important that HEAR continues to stay involved and engages with our members and our stakeholders about how we can best contribute to their existing work.

I'd like to thank the chair, speakers and all the delegates for participating in the event, as well as a big thank you to all of those who assisted in organising this event, particularly Nick, Kate and Devrowe.

By Sarah Johansson, HEAR co-ordinator

WRC at UNISON Women's Conference 2010

Last week, Newcastle hosted around 600 women from all over the country, from Portsmouth to Orkney, for this year’s UNISON women’s conference. I went along with Kimcha, WRC’s Membership and Events Officer, to find out what conference is all about and to let women know about our why women? campaign.

UNISON is the biggest union for the public sector, as well as one of the unions for the voluntary and community sector. This meant that the women were all UNISON members, many were branch women’s officers and most work in either the NHS or in Local Government. The Women's Resource Centre itself is unionised and myself and WRC Policy Officer Charlotte are shop stewards, as well as being elected as joint women’s officers for UNISON’S Voluntary Organisations Branch. We were keen to find out how the union works and how we might be able to use it to take our campaign forward, for example by getting UNISON branches across the country to pledge their support for the campaign and to work to support their local women’s organisations.

The conference itself involves proposing motions on union and women-related issues, with opportunities for delegates to speak for and against the motions, which are then voted on by the delegates. Motions passed by women’s conference then have the possibility of being taken forward to the UNISON National Delegate Conference where they will be voted on by delegates representing the whole of UNISON’s 1.3 million members. The topics of the motions are varied, with the below an example of just a few that were supported by conference:
  • Increased involvement of trade unions in equality impact assessments
  • Lowering the age and increasing the frequency of smear tests
  • Encouraging women to get cycling
  • Free sanitary products for women on low pay.
On Saturday, conference voted in support of the decriminalisation of prostitutes and criminalisation of the buyers of sex, as Cath Elliott reports in her blog. This was the result of the Demand Change! campaign led by Object and Eaves and supported by UNISON Eastern Region. Another interesting motion, put forward by Davena Rankin from the National Women’s Committee, was around the fight against the BNP and the importance of presenting it as not just an anti-racist campaign, but as a pro-feminist one. A selection of the comments made by the BNP about women illustrate the importance of this motion.

Overall, it was a great experience to be at an event with so many women who ‘get’ what WRC and the why women? campaign is about. Having distributed 100 why women? DVDs, we hope that the invaluable work of the women’s sector and the threats it currently faces will be recognised and taken up within the union movement. In solidarity, sisters!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Take part in our survey - and win money!

Fancy winning some money, and in the process helping the women's sector?

With the economic downturn, rising, looming further cuts in funding and a general election due, the women's sector needs more than ever to show the impact it has on women's lives.

This is why here at the Women's Resource Centre we're putting together a report to demonstrate to the UK government the value of our sector and why it needs continued support.

But we cannot do this without you, after all it is the work you do that makes the women's sector such an indispensable asset.

This is why we need you to tell us all about the amazing work you do so that we can present an infallible case for support. Therefore, we have developed a quick questionnaire for you to fill in via the Survey Monkey website, which you can fill our online here

The main themes were are looking at are these:

• the impact of the recession on your work
• bidding for public service contracts
• the work you do to make change in your local area
• the support you get from us at the WRC

It should only take around 15 minutes of your time and would be a huge help. And now the money bit! All completed questionnaires, where full contact details are provided, will be entered into our prize draw. There will be two £100 prizes for your organisation or another not-for-profit or social enterprise of your choice!

Furthermore, the WRC aims to be accessible and inclusive, so if you would prefer, this questionnaire can be completed over the phone. To arrange this, please contact Sue Christoforou (see below for contact details).

Please also send on to friends and colleagues working in the women's sector for them to fill in as well, the more people take part, the firmer the case we can present to the UK government for further support to our sector.

The survey closes 28 February 2010. If you would like to respond to the survey but think you may have problems meeting the deadline, please contact Sue on her details below:

Sue Christoforou, Researcher, Women's Resource Centre
Email:, Ph: 020 7324 3030,