Young Members: Five questions with… Helena Fletcher

We’re hearing from different young members across Yorkshire and Humberside throughout November, finding out what being part of UNISON means to them. It’s Helena today…

Who are you?

My name’s Helena Fletcher, I work in the Sheffield Health & Social Care NHS Trust team, and I’m the young members officer for the UNISON Sheffield Community Health branch.

What do you do for a job?

I work as part of the equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) team as an engagement and experience officer in the Sheffield Health & Social Care NHS Trust. My role involves working with both staff and service users; I try to make sure all voices are not just listened to, but heard. I am new to the NHS, but I’m very passionate about it and keen to bring new ideas to my work. Before moving into the NHS, I worked in higher education. I also graduated when covid 19 started in 2020.

How did you find out about UNISON?

I’d heard about UNISON in other job roles but never signed up before, but my branch was very supportive and encouraging. I wanted to make sure young people’s voices were taken on board and actioned, which was part of my reason for joining the union. Since then, my branch asked if I’d like to consider the role of young members officer and here we are!

What made you decide to join UNISON as a young member?

I think young people bring a lot to their workplaces, and it’s important their voices are heard. Joining UNISON as a young member, and then becoming the young members officer for my branch, means I’m in a position to help young people have their voices heard. It also means I can try to make sure the union is reflective of what young people need, to ensure its serving its young members as well as it can.

Why should other young people join UNISON?

When covid 19 happened, I realised that young people who are in work, education or on placement are a new workforce that will never have the same work experience as other colleagues. This is due to our experience of the pandemic.

I will not know what it’s like to come on site every day, or work without hand sanitisers dotted about, or not having masks. This has changed what a “normal” work experience looks like; that’s what I want to be recognised and why I joined UNISON.

Young people have many amazing skills and different views, partly because of the pandemic, but also for many other reasons. I hope other young people recognise the importance of joining and getting involved – it’s really important for making sure their ideas, opinions and voices are heard.