Community and Voluntary Sector

The Community and Voluntary Sector (CVS) Service Group covers all of our members working for charities, housing associations and other voluntary sector organisations. The Service Group ensures that UNISON provides a strong focus and a prominent voice for all of our members in the community and voluntary sector.

As this is a relatively new Service Group, my remit  as Service Group Lead, is to raise the profile of the Service Group within the Region.  To further this, I have created a contact list of community and voluntary sector stewards throughout the North West.  Being on the contact list will ensure that members are directly ’kept in the loop’ about regional events, training or other information related to the Regional CVS Service Group.

The CVS Service Group has a committee which meets formally 4 times a year at Arena Point.  The next meeting is the Annual General Meeting which will take place at 11am on 18th February 2013 at Arena Point, Manchester.

The current CVS Regional Committee is in the process of devising a Work Programme of activities for the year which will then be shared with the wider membership.  It is hoped that the Work programme will be ratified at the AGM.

Members who wish to join the CVS Regional Committee, need to contact their Branch Secretary who will ensure their nomination is put to their next Branch Committee Meeting and processed on to Regional Office.


  • All branches with 50 or more members working within the Community and Voluntary sector are entitled to elect one representative (up to a maximum of 2 for branches with more than 100 C&V members) to the Regional CVS Committee.
  • Branches with fewer than 50 C&V members, but over 30, are entitled to ‘join’ with another branch (which also has over 30 C&V members) and elect a representative between them.

If you are unsure how to contact your Branch Secretary, or have a query about the work or remit of the Community Sector Service Group, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Who to contact:

Norma Brown
Regional Lead Officer, Community Service Group
Tel: 0161 661 6200
Email: [email protected]

Community and Voluntary Sector News

Four Seasons Healthcare – Recruitment Project 

The National Union has recently signed a recognition agreement with Four Seasons who run a large number of residential homes.   A number of these homes are in the North West and the Regional Secretary has approved the development of a regional recruitment project to increase our membership in these homes.  There was some discussion as to where this project should sit – but it was finally decided that it would fall within the ambit of the Community Sector Service Group.

The Project Team which consists of Norma Brown (Regional Organiser), Bill Berry (Regional Manager) and Peter Moss (Local Organiser), will be targeting 11 of these homes across the three geographic teams.  The local health branches have been told of the project and been invited to participate in the recruitment and to supply branch specific materials  to the recruiters.  A major focus will be the recruitment of workplace/stewards in each residential home.

UNISON North West already has 104 members working for Four Seasons who are currently allocated to 16 health branches.   There is potential for the Project to recruit over 500 new members

The Project has been added to the Service Group’s Work Plan and will therefore be reviewed art each Service Group meeting.


Organising in the community sector course – 2nd and 3rd May 2013

UNISON is hosting a two day course for activists in the community and voluntary sector, offering training in industrial organising techniques. It will be held on 2nd and 3rd May at UNISON Centre in central London.

The aims of the course are:

  • Develop an understanding of the organising approach, including principles  and the debate around organising.  
  • Understand the context we are organising in.Develop a high level of confidence and skill around aspects of organising e.g. one to one conversations.

  • Develop an understanding of a wide range of organising techniques and when they are appropriate to use.


Activists Training Application Form

Forms must be returned to:

 Learning&[email protected]

to be received no later than 5pm Thursday 24th April 2013

For further information about the course please contact: Jim Lewis:

[email protected]

0207 121 5459


UNISON Wins LGPS access for new starters at South Lakes Housing Association

26th February 2013

On 5 March 2012, South Lakeland District Council (SLDC) transferred ownership of their housing stock to South Lakes Housing (SLH), a newly formed Housing Association.   Prior to that date, the homes had been managed by South Lakes Housing as an Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO) of the Council.

Despite the drawbacks of a significant number of homes for social rent being removed from public ownership,  UNISON members at SLH were broadly in agreement of the transfer, as it enabled long  term job security and an increase in staff numbers. Also, there was to be no contracting out of our in- house maintenance team.

Both UNISON and GMB worked with management to draw up a Staff Pledge, which secured terms and conditions of employment for staff in post at the time of transfer.  At the time of transfer, our Administering Authority (Cumbria County Council) granted us Admitted Body Status to the LGPS. What the pledge was unable to deliver was access to the Scheme for members of staff who commenced employment after 5 March 2012.

Through staff consultation and negotiating, the principle of allowing new starters to join the LGPS was established.  We were fortunate that our employers did not partake in the pensions  ‘ race to the bottom’, and recognised  that providing  an attractive remuneration package was key to securing long term sustainable jobs, and that translated into a stable workforce to administer and improve a public resource.  The case was put to Cumbria County Council, and following further negotiations including a financial guarantee from SLH/SLDC, was accepted.  Staff appointed after 5 March 2012 are now able to join the LGPS, and this will also be offered under auto enrolment.

Since transfer, we have recruited staff to fill 4 new posts, with a further 3 yet to be appointed.  We have continued to take on and train apprentices, both in manual and clerical areas of our business, and our in house repairs and maintenance team are preparing to bid for additional work.