Meet Stuart, branch welfare officer

Health and social care commissioning manager Stuart Gibbons has been branch welfare officer for a couple of years. Here he talks us through his experience in the welfare role.

“Prior to my current job I’d always worked with front-line housing and homelessness services, involving direct contact with vulnerable people in very difficult circumstances.

“My welfare officer role allows me to draw on that experience, using my knowledge and expertise to help members who are struggling.

“A recent complex local case involved me helping someone with unsuitable social housing, workplace disability needs not being met (partly causing long-term sickness absence), financial difficulties and relationship problems: the perfect storm!

“Using UNISON’s wide range of ‘There for You’ welfare services, I was able to draw-on several sources of support to help our member turn their life around such as:

  • Rescheduling debts and payments using the National Debtline Service, supported by UNISON;
  • Arranging a UNISON winter fuel payment;
  • Providing access to the union’s ‘Turn To Us’ website which details any benefits available, taking into account your circumstances;
  • Introducing reasonable workplace adjustments for regular hospital appointments;
  • Obtaining additional priority for more suitable social housing through the local authority;
  • A UNISON grant for removal expenses (the union’s ‘gold star’ service actually made the move); and
  • Arranged a local assistance grant from WSCC to help buy furniture and white goods.

“This is an exceptional case, but it really does illustrate the depth and breadth of support the union can provide when times get tough.”

For more information look under ‘Get Help’ on the branch website.

Thanks to Stuart for all his hard work for our members in West Sussex.

If you have skills and experience to offer and would like to get more involved with us, get in touch and ask to speak to the Branch Secretary!