AGM speakers announced

We’re pleased to announce the speakers for our 2020 Annual General Meetings.

Each of UNISON Essex’s three aggregate meetings will have a speaker giving their own perspective on the same topic, mental health in the workplace.  This is a subject that is becoming ever more important to our members, as continuing cuts to public services mean that workers are expected to do more work with fewer resources.  Our speakers will discuss what members can do to try to maintain good mental health while at work.

Chelmsford – 9th March 2020

Steven Walker

Mental Health in the Workplace.

Steven is a former Unison member, currently Unite community branch member. He is a qualified psychotherapist and former social worker. Steven helped organise the recent Regional Conference on Mental Health in the Workplace hosted by Colchester Trades Union Council. He was a Principal Lecturer in the School of Health and Social Care at Anglia Ruskin University in Chelmsford, has published 14 books, over 45 scholarly papers in scientific journals, presented his research at 11 International Conferences and is a regular feature writer for The Morning Star newspaper.

Colchester – 10th March 2020

Dr Nick Blondel

Work and mental health: Join a union, get happy!?

I am a Colcestrian doctor applying for psychiatry and I campaign and talk on issues of mental and public health, as well as the role of the pharmaceutical industry in the NHS.

I believe that a left-wing response to mental health issues requires understanding the society we live in and how this society produces the problems that we each individually experience, and that collectivising our struggles is the only way we can make steps to long-lasting wellbeing. What is considered good or bad mental health depends on how we work and how we understand work in our society. In other words: if we want to have good mental health at work, maybe we have to change how we work!


Southend – 11th March 2020

Jim Lewis

Mental Health at Work

Jim has been a union Education Officer for 27 years beginning with one of the predecessor unions NUPE. His role is developing and delivering training for UNISON activists and staff and supporting the work of education and training in UNISON regions. His specialisms are training on privatisation, TUPE, pensions, health and safety including mental health at work.

Jim was born and grew up in Birmingham. Leaving school with no qualifications at 15, he later became a NUPE branch secretary in the health service before going to Ruskin college and then Warwick University where he studied law.  He began work training union activists in 1992. His hobbies are Karaoke!, travel and studying history.

Mental health issues affect many workers at any one time. Employers have a duty to maintain mental health as well as physical health at work. What can we do to ensure the work place is as mentally safe as possible? How can we encourage employers to follow best practice?

The presentation will also briefly:

  • Identify some of the common signs and symptoms of poor mental health in the workplace
  • Discuss and explore strategies for intervention and support for members experiencing mental ill health
  • Understand what causes stress for us in our union roles
  • Review strategies for coping with stress

We look forward to seeing you at one of the meetings!