Launched in 2011, Unite Community membership, gives anyone who is not in work a chance to join Britain’s biggest union and combine with their working colleagues in campaigning for an improved standard of living for all.
In 2014, Unite NEY&H (North East, Yorkshire & Humberside) Community membership, costing just 50 pence a week, increased significantly to reach 1000. A range of ongoing events throughout the year has encouraged more people to join and get politically active. Meanwhile, the community advice centres in Durham and Barnsley both continue to provide invaluable welfare support to local people. A third centre is due to open in Farsley at the start of 2015.
Joe Rollin is the Unite community co-ordinator for NEY&H.
“Our members include the unemployed, disabled, retired and students. We support our industrial colleagues when they are taking industrial action and campaign against welfare reforms such as the bedroom tax that has…
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What an amazing day!! It was well organised, informative, fun and inspirational!
Unite/Community is 3 years old. Last September Yorkshire and Humberside and North East Region had 480 members. Now there are 1000!
No other union is organising people who are out of work. There are 5 branches in this region , with South Yorkshire the biggest and two other branches are on the way.
This was a day for three or four activists from each branch in the region.
Members came from Newcastle, Durham, Barnsley, Leeds, Sheffield, Doncaster, Grimsby and Teesside. It was inspiring to hear what campaigns they had been involved in and were achieving with the support of Unite/Community.
Unite/Community is helping to release an absolute powerhouse of energy. It is involving people from all sections of the community regardless of age, ability or eperience. Campaigns include support for the Freedom Riders which…
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Shocking new figures show that the North is the anti-depressant capital of Britain.
The region takes up six of the top 10 places in England for use of the drugs, with poverty and deprivation being blamed for the widespread problems with people’s mental health.
NHS data shows doctors here prescribe more anti-depressants per head than anywhere else in the country, with more than one million prescriptions handed out in the last three months of last year.
In the former industrial heartland of East Durham there are 45 prescriptions for every 100 patients – the second highest rate in the country.
And six of the 10 most-prescribing areas are in the North East, including Sunderland, Gateshead, South Tees, Newcastle West, and North Durham.
Mental health charities said depression and anxiety were strongly tied to deprivation, with some laying the blame at the government’s door. Easington MP Grahame Morris, a member of the Commons Health Select Committee, said: “We’re fighting a rearguard action to protect our community.
“I see in my surgeries every week people displaying symptoms of anxiety, stress and depression as a consequence of the government’s policies.
“I had a gentleman come to see me on Friday who was 60-years-old, had worked from being 15, and he’d had to give it up due to a crumbling spine.
“He’d been put in a fit for work category when he couldn’t walk for 20 paces, and his benefits were suspended for eight months while the appeal is heard.
“There’s a definite link between the Government’s policies of austerity and welfare reform and the impact it’s having on people’s mental health.”
Doctors in Sunderland made 41.2 prescriptions for every 100 people in the area, while Gateshead gave out 40.7.
Other badly affected areas included Salford, St Helens, Barnsley and Blackpool – all former industrial areas. Richard Colwill, from the mental health charity SANE, said the figures should be treated “with caution” because they might be inflated by repeat patients for drugs which are used for a range of other conditions.
But he argued they “should be no surprise” because of the strong links between depression and “unemployment, debt and homelessness”.
He said: “SANE’s own experience suggests that it is not only the high demand for treatment that is concerning, but also the dwindling supply.
“The Government’s relentless agenda to cut expensive community and inpatient services often leaves healthcare professionals with little to offer other than medication.”
Paul Farmer, chief executive of mental health charity Mind, said: “We know that reforms to the welfare system are taking their toll on the mental health of many people. Depression can affect anyone, regardless of background, but there are certain factors that can increase the risk of someone developing depression.
“Unemployment, financial difficulties, a problematic housing situation and physical health problems can all put stress on people, which in turn can lead to mental health problems.”
A spokeswoman for clinical commissioning groups in the North East said: “It’s well-known that poverty and mental health are linked, just as poor housing and mental health are linked.
“As the North East has some of the highest areas of deprivation in the country, it’s not surprising that there are higher numbers of people who need support for mental health issues.
“It’s important that people realise that while sometimes medication is required, there are alternatives for those with mild to moderate depression or anxiety.
“Talking therapies work very well and can act more quickly than perhaps antidepressants or other medical treatments.”
A Department for Work and Pensions spokesperson said: “Our welfare reforms will improve the lives of some of the poorest families in our communities, with the Universal Credit making three million households better off.
“We have also expanded the ESA Support Group so greater numbers of people with a mental health condition now qualify for the benefit.
“We are transforming the lives of the poorest in society and bringing common sense back to the welfare system – so that we can continue to support people when they need it most right across Britain.”
> But then, they always say that… whatever the question was.
Source – Newcastle Evening chronicle 20 April 2014