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Activist discusses Community member support during COVID-19

30th April 2020

Jack Whiston, Community rep and support group volunteer, writes about his experience during the pandemic and the launch of Community’s Member Support Group.

For many people in the UK, daily lives have changed significantly over the past month and people are struggling both in and out of the workplace. The Boot & Shoe industry has taken a difficult decision to temporarily close stores across Europe which has meant that we have seen a significant reduction of work levels within the factories where shoes are produced, meaning that myself and many of my colleagues are out of work on furlough under the Government’s Job Retention Scheme.

When my employer informed me, I was anxious about how this change would affect our livelihoods and how people would cope being stuck at home when we are all so used to going to work every day. It is difficult to cope with change and the additional worry about finances, I felt really stressed about it, thinking about my colleagues, what was going to happen and how I, as a Community Rep could help them.

I felt relieved to find out that Community was negotiating with our employers across the industry, to help secure a more secure future for us. Although during furlough we will receive 100% of our salaries, I was still worried about how the lockdown would affect people who are stuck at home, with no support from friends, neighbours or family.

That’s why I was so pleased to see Community launch the Members Support Group as a response to COVID-19. It’s at times like these that we all need to do our bit to step up and help each other and that’s why I have volunteered to help out.

The Members Support Group asked me to help out with welfare calls, lending an ear to those who need support or feel lonely. Engaging with people on these calls has been a personal highlight for me, it’s a real privilege to offer my support to them.

I am proud to be a member of Community, creating a support group for members that takes trade unionism outside of the traditional workplace boundaries and reaches into local communities supporting members, no matter their situation.

If you are already a member and you need help, you can find out more about the Community Member Support Group here

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