Meet the steward: hear why social worker Paula Black became a UNISON branch secretary

"We are notoriously bad at standing up for ourselves because we spend the whole time standing up for everyone else," says UNISON branch secretary Paula Black.

Unison members campaign for fair pay for social care professionals

Paula Black has been the branch secretary for the UNISON East Sussex Area branch for two years.

You can find out more about why she became a social worker and union member by listening to the above podcast.

Here’s a taster of what she says:

Why did you become a social worker?

“It was after reflecting on my experiences of being a teenage mother. Although I didn’t have a social worker, I had lots of connections with other service providers. I met social workers at playgroup and thought, ‘I’m in my mid-20s, I need to get a career’. “

Why do you love social work?

“I love talking to people and getting people to affect their own change.”

Why’s it important to be a union member?

“When you join something as large as a local council you are a very small drop in a very large ocean.  On your own you don’t have a great deal of clout, but if you’re part of something bigger then it’s easier to talk to your employer.

“We don’t do social work for the money; we do it because we care. But we are notoriously bad at standing up for ourselves because we spend the whole time standing up for everyone else.”

What sort of things do you do as a branch secretary?

“I’m about to launch a stress audit of some of our adult social care teams to support the director and to see if there’s anything we can do.

“I’m working at with lots of different people at lots of different levels with a wide variety of needs. I’ve learnt about pensions and pay negotiations, and I’ve done some fantastic training.

“At the moment I’m on secondment from my social work job five days a week, but I still have to keep up my registration and training. I’m sure I’ll return to social work one day.”

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