Thursday, 17th October 2019


Help celebrate our local champions this Thursday


This Thursday, we're celebrating local service champions – the unsung heroes who keep our communities working and support our lives.

Local government workers are there for us, through every stage of our lives. From birth, through our youth and adulthood, to old age. We cannot live our lives without them They're often forgotten – but not by us.



Susan Gill, who runs the Homeless Café in Middlesbrough, recently received £250 pounds
from UNISON Local Government Branch

Susan does a fantastic job supporting and feeding local homeless people and we at UNISON LG
think the Café is such a worthy cause.  We also like to donate a small amount of Panto tickets
every year when we can.

Five homeless people who have used the Café on Princes Road, Gresham have died since April.

Susan said: "They were all under the Breaking the Boundaries Team. After the council moved
the staff to other jobs, it had a really bad effect on a lot of people who are struggling to cope."

The team, created by Middlesbrough Council, was set up to “make sure that every single individual
who begs or sleeps rough is offered intensive support”.

Middlesbrough Council will soon be reviewing its decision to remove the Breaking the Boundaries Team.



DW Fitness First


DW Fitness First exclusive offer to UNISON LG members 

£6 a month off membership for UNISON LG members at any of their Gyms


Simply take your UNISON card to any DW Fitness First Centre
or speak to the staff at DW reception
and sign up for an exclusive discount.


Gym membership from only £19 a month - that’s a yearly saving of £72!

For those who are looking to start 2019 off and get fit after Christmas.


Middlesbrough LG UNISON




I'm Chris, a Unison rep of 3 years with Middlesbrough Local Government branch.  3 years also happens to be the length of time I've been attending the Durham Miners Gala.

I'm embarrassed to say that, despite being from County Durham, I had never attended a Big Meeting until 2016. I had obviously heard of it, but never knew what it was about or if it was of any relevance to me or not.

If you've never been to the Durham Miners Gala before it's a tremendous day out and a great celebration of working class culture and solidarity.

July 14th 2018 marked the 134th Miners Gala and it was my first time to have the honour of walking into the Racecourse Field with the banners. I was invited, as a Labour Party member of the City of Durham constituency, to march in with Durham City Labour who this year were marching alongside the Sherburn Villages Collieries. It took two hours to make the half hour walk through the city, but it was a great opportunity to meet people. I held aloft the banner with the Labour Links Officer for Darlington Unison and it was great to be clapped along by people soaking up the sunshine.

The event is very well organised and the day flies over. After working up a hunger and arriving in the field I got some smashing food from the Labour Tea Tent, all handmade by people working together and volunteering their time and energy.

I was waiting on friends arriving, so I had a look around the outskirts of the field at all the different stalls. Former Newcastle United and England centre-half Steve Howey was signing autographs in the UNISON tent, lending a hand to Show Racism the Red Card, too.


Steve Howey signing autographs
Steve Howey signing autographs


I lay in the baking sun around noon, listening to the old folk performers on the stage sing local ballads of North Eastern life, often tales of hardship, but always of humanity, too. This year the stage was covered with a roof for the first time and the sound system was improved for the growing crowds, so it was easier to enjoy the music as the banners continued to file into the field.

In years gone by, when people told me of the event, I could only get an inkling of its appeal, but you really have to experience it first hand to pick up on the unspoken sense of what has been passed on for over a hundred years and what everyone attending is a part of; people looking out for one another and taking pride in their labour, who they are and where they come from.

Some excellent speeches followed. Matt Wrack of the FBU for the second year running, speaking up for our public servants and protectors in the Fire Service, doing a job that could end their lives as suddenly as many a miner lost theirs.

Dennis Skinner, who has spoken at the Gala many times, in his 88th year had the crowd laughing and cheering ahead of the closing speech by Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn. In his speech, Corbyn touched on many things, but one point that sticks in my mind is his aim to have the history of trade unionism taught in our schools. Too many times he has met young students who have asked him what is the role of trade unions.

Trade unionism is at the heart of that togetherness and solidarity which makes the Miners Gala such a celebratory occasion.

This year, after the speeches, we were treated to a rousing set by Billy Bragg as the sun continued to beat on the smiling hordes. There was time to buy a book from one of the stalls. I opted for a James Connelly book from the Workers Party of Ireland's stall. They had come over from Dublin and it was great to pass the time with people you wouldn't otherwise meet.

We left the field to make our way through the vibrant, smiling city that danced to the beat of the brass bands echoing around the streets many had trodden together year after year.

If you've been before you'll be looking forward to next July. If you've yet to experience it, add it to your calendar.


To find out more visit


Chris Riley

Branch Labour Link Officer





Mike Hill (labour MP for Hartlepool), pictured with Anita Duffy (Specialist Teaching Assistant at Sunnyside Academy)


Mike Hill paid a visit to Sunnyside Academy in south Middlesbrough on Friday 15th June.  The reason for Mike's visit was to promote BSL being taught in educational settings throughout the UK.

Anita Duffy (a Hartlepool resident) works as a Specialist Teaching Assistant supporting deaf children who attend the academy.  Anita, who is profoundly deaf, received a letter from the Houses of Parliament recently regarding the ongoing campaign to support a GCSE qualification in British Sign Language.

Mike witnessed outstanding teaching environments for deaf children using BSL and also observed the youngsters accessing the curriculum regardless of their hearing impairments. Mike also enjoyed a leisurely lunch whilst in the company of the pupils.

Sunnyside is a mainstream school.  It holds six communication bases, a base for children with visual impairment and two higher needs bases. It also offers an excellent setting for the children living in the local community.

Sunnyside Academy is UNIQUE!


Anita, a long standing UNISON member, is an ambassador for all the children at Sunnyside.  She states; “All children have the right to achieve their full potential”

Statistics show that over 11 million people in the UK have some form of deafness, so why are we not teaching BSL?

Foreign languages are taught in schools and academies in the UK so why is a GCSE in BRITISH Sign language being denied?

Nurseries are now realising that using signs, expressions and gestures are aiding our young generation to become more confident communicators. Before speech is formed children are able to express meaning and understanding through BSL and this could then support them to suppress anger, frustration and a host of other behaviour difficulties caused by being unable to communicate. BSL should be taught from an early age.

The year 6 pupils at Sunnyside gave Mike a petition from all the pupils, staff and visitors at the academy to hand deliver to Parliament. The older children wrote extremely strong letters containing statements promoting this worthwhile campaign for a GCSE to be taught in BSL.

“ALL children sign at Sunnyside, SO! Follow our example, BSL should be a credited GCSE!”

Pam Richards

UNISON Convenor for Middlesbrough Schools and Academies