Retired Members conference

Retired members conference
Bournemouth 9th -10th October 2018

On Tuesday the 9th there were seminars that delegates could attend I
attended a seminar on the entitled “HelpForce”

HelpForce is a new community interest company founded in 2017.

It’s aim over the next 3 years is to create and share a best practice model
so that more patents, volunteers, NHS staff and healthcare providers can
benefit from the volunteer community.
UNISON’s Health Service Group believe that HelpForce is an organisation
thatUNISON can work with, without undermining the jobs of our members in the

Motion 21 on the conference agenda calls on the National Members’ Committee
to work together with the Health Service Group to raise awareness of
HelpForce and encourage retired members to become involved.

A lot of points were raised by the attendees mostly regarding work being
done by volunteers that should be done by paid employees and the fear that
trust mangers could, and do in some trusts, abuse the roll of volunteers
getting them to do jobs that would otherwise be done by paid employees.

This motion was the most controversial when it was debated the next day. It
was submitted by the National Retired Members Committee and after a fair bit
of debate it was defeated by a larger majority. I guess the National
Committee underestimated the feeling this subject would generate…

In the afternoon I attended the Eastern Region Meeting at 16.00.

The meeting was chaired by John Walker, Regional Retired Members Secretary,
to discuss our approach to the next days business. Unfortunately most of the
time was taken up by one of the members wanting to know the political
leanings of the mayor of Bournemouth who was opening the conference and once
it was found out that he was a Tory too much time was taken up with the
rights and wrongs of him welcoming us. I do wonder sometimes..

The main day of the conference started at 09.30 We had 24 motions to debate
and vote on during the day and managed to get through 23 of them before we
run out of time. This is seen as pretty good going. One of the very useful
changes at this years conference was the prioritising of motions. This is
the first time this has been tried and it worked well as it is very rare
that a conference gets through all of the motions on the agenda and if, by
chance, an important one is last on the agenda it can get lost. This year
once all of the motions were known a list of them was sent to each regional
committee who were asked to prioritise their top 6. National office then
compiled the agenda when they had the priorities back form the regional

All of the motions that were debated were carried except for two that were
lost. One of these was about HelpForce, the one regarding volunteers, and
the other one that was lost was on Assisted Suicide for the Elderly. This
issue had been on conference agendas in other years and had been passed by
conference. The reason that it was lost this year was due to this and not
because conference didn’t agree with it.

Dave Prentice addressed conference after lunch on Wednesday telling us how
much UNISON valued the retired members and the work that they did on behalf
of the union.

Steve Beckley
Retired Members Secretary