This year, I went to my first TUC Congress – ‘Winning at Work’ in Liverpool – as the new Community Branch Secretary at HMP Peterborough.
To be honest, I thought it was going to be really boring – but once in the building and meeting different union members and hearing about the problems we have in all different sectors, I saw we all had the same goals and ambitions for our own sectors, just in different ways, and really enjoyed it.
On day two, I was asked to deliver a speech to 1,500 people about the problems we face in the justice and custodial sector.
Initially I doubted myself, as I had never made such an important speech to so many people, and didn’t think I would do the prepared speech from Community justice, so I adapted it and put my own little spin on it.
I wanted everyone to know about the pressure we face on a daily basis in our over-crowded , underfunded, understaffed prisons.
I told them that, unfortunately, our criminal justice system is on its knees, and that:
‘Assaults cannot be accepted as the norm in any job. Our justice staff deserve better.’
I wanted them to know about how I had seen the worst assault in my 19 years of service on the most kind-hearted, supportive member of staff – someone who has assisted prisoners in changing lives for the better; a much loved colleague who now has life-changing injuries.
The constant carousel of Tory justice ministers has meant we’ve had no vision for our sector, no one addressing the challenges we face, and no one listening.
After my speech, many people of different unions came up to me to ask about the prison and our dear colleague and how she was doing.
They were shocked about some of the things I had mentioned, and thanked all my colleagues at Peterborough for protecting the public.
Keep Us Safe
Find out more about Community’s campaign to protect our justice and custodial members, sign our petition, or share your story anonymously: community-tu.org/keep-us-safe
Community is the union for justice and custodial sector workers, representing thousands of members whose work is vital to our justice system and to public safety. Our members work for a range of organisations in the sector. We represent workers at private prisons, secure immigration centres, young offender institutions, courts, in prisoner escorting and much more. We are a modern trade union, campaigning for a better working world.