Barnet UNISON COVID19 Update: Support for your Mental Health

Dear Barnet UNISON members,

The lockdown is clearly having an impact on our mental health and wellbeing.

Below is a service called Able Futures who provide some excellent services for staff, some of our Barnet UNISON members are already using and providing some positive feedback.

Able Futures delivers the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service which can give nine months support from a mental health professional at no cost.

If staff are experiencing issues such as anxiety, depression, grief or stress, or are struggling to deal with problems such as debt, disrupted sleep or relationship breakdowns that may be affecting mental health, Able Futures can help you build resilience, tackle issues, feel better and learn new ways to manage your mental health throughout the ups and downs of life.

There’s no waiting list and you can apply online or by calling 0800 321 3137.

Below are some Able Futures resources and information from other agencies.

Able Futures continue to offer a service, adapted to offer all telephone and online support now to avoid contact.

If you are furloughed, you are still entitled to support, as well as any family members that may be eligible.

Signing up is just a few clicks and only takes a few minutes via the Able Futures website:

You may also find excellent resources and advice on the following websites:

Young Minds for the younger people in our communities:

This organisation can offer training and awareness:

Mental Health Foundation, some excellent information:



Do you want to join the COVID-19 council staff deployment programme?

Barnet Council are looking for staff to volunteer at this time of national emergency.

There are a number of roles they are looking for staff to help such as:

Working in the Food Bank which based in the RAF museum.

If you take a role as a volunteer it is on a voluntary basis it will not mean you experiencing a financial detriment or changes to your terms and conditions.

To find out more about the COVID-19 council staff deployment programme

click on the link below

Scroll down to the bottom of the page to find the COVID19 Redeployment form








UNISON calls for government to prioritise staff safety before re-opening schools

“Schools across the country are mostly closed, with pupils staying at home with families and carers. However, some schools remain partially open for children who have a social worker and are under safeguarding precautions, as well as children of key workers.

UNISON has, with other unions, issued a joint statement to the government warning against fully re-opening schools until staff safety is scientifically assured.

UNISON members have been essential in keeping schools open during the COVID-19 crisis, and are already concerned that, even with the small number of pupils currently in schools, it is impossible to maintain social distancing at all times.

UNISON National Secretary Jon Richards said: “We all know that schools will re-open at some stage, but that needs to be managed sensibly and not put people’s lives at risk.

“The government needs to be open with their plans and engage with UNISON and other unions early on to ensure that this isn’t mishandled.”

The statement co-signed by UNISON, Unite and GMB reads: “We call on the government to provide immediate reassurance to staff that any strategy for re-opening schools is discussed with relevant unions and other bodies at an early stage.

“Any proposals must be shared well in advance of any implementation, and re-opening schools should only happen once there is clear published scientific evidence that can command the confidence of the schools’ workforce that it is safe to do so.

“Suggestions in the media that the government in England is considering reopening schools has caused huge anxiety amongst school staff and parents”

The statement also includes demands for sufficient PPE, cleaning supplies and regular testing.”

Read full statement click on link below 

2020.04.16UNISON Joint-union-statement-on-re-opening-of-schools




Barnet UNISON has received a large number of concerns from careworkers who, now, like NHS staff are caring for individuals who have become infected with Coronavirus.

All care settings MUST comply with the advice set out by Public Health England. Please contact us if you are working in a setting where these minimal standards are not being adhered to.

Contact us on 0208 359 2088 (leave a message)

or email us at

if you have any further concerns.

“Droplet precautions, isolation and personal protective equipment (PPE):

  • Care homes are not expected to have dedicated isolation facilities for people living in the home.
  • Isolation precautions should be implemented in the same way care homes operate for influenza.
  • A resident’s own room can be used if isolation is needed, ideally a single bedroom with en-suite.
  • If this is not possible, discuss the option of cohorting with your local PHE health protection team.

Staff should use PPE for close personal contact with a symptomatic resident or bodily fluids.

  • Aprons, gloves and fluid repellent surgical masks should be used in these situations.
  • If there is a risk of splashing, then eye protection will minimise risk.
  • New PPE must be used for each episode of care.
  • On leaving the resident’s room, PPE should be removed, and hand hygiene performed immediately, as per standard infection control precautions.
  • Isolation may end after 7 days from illness onset, so long as the case feels better and has no fever.”

Read full guidance by click link below.

Interim IPC advice for care homes_v1.2_20200318

Barnet UNISON Pays Tribute to The Little Chief, Susan Sullivan

We have sad news to communicate with our Barnet UNISON community.

Susan Sullivan has become the first fatal victim of the Coronavirus we know of in our community.

She wasn’t a member of Barnet UNISON but she made her contribution and she made it count. She was one of two people who put their names to efforts to bring a judicial review against the Council for bringing the disastrous Capita into our services.

Susan had a learning disability and was a user of Barnet Council services so understood the value of the services provided by many of our members. This was what she sought to defend. She valued us.

We came to value her as she appeared on a number of demonstrations and took part in occasional meetings. Of course she did so with the full support of her parents, John and Ida. They have all been valuable members of our campaigns which saw John publicly speaking out in solidarity with our striking YCB colleagues on a number of occasions including the House of Commons.

We often heard John refer to his daughter as “Little Chief”. We cannot thank them enough for their comradeship and solidarity.

Our thoughts are very much with them in their grief and now worry about the potential progress of this virus within their family.

R.I.P Susan Sullivan “Little Chief”.

Three workers in the Dust truck is not safe

The threat of COVID 19 both real and perceived is growing stronger every day especially amongst front line workers who are being asked to carry on a deliver services as normal.

But these are not normal times. We are in a global pandemic which is sweeping across the globe, some countries faster than others.

The response from workers in public services is incredible people are offering support to other services which are under serious pressure.

Once such service that needs to continue otherwise there will be another type of public health risk is the Waste and Recycling Service.

There can sometimes be 3 or 4 workers sitting inside a vehicle a clear contravention of the government advice on social distancing.

Earlier this week Barnet UNISON wrote to Barnet Council requesting urgent measures to be put in place to safeguard our member’s health and safety.

Our demands are as follows:

1. Cleaning regime.

The inside of the vehicles are subjected to thorough cleansing regime each day.

That Hand gel is provided for each team every day. Please note there are no toilets available for these staff to use therefore no access to water and soap.

Cleansing wipes to be provided to each team every day.

Gloves and masks to be provided to each team every day.

Provision of toilet facilities for the workforce

Procedure to change how they currently work to reflect government advice about social distancing.

2. Bonus/recognition payment

Workers have asked that the Council pay a bonus to the reflect the recognition of the work they are currently providing under difficult circumstances.

3. Mental Health

To increase awareness of counselling support for staff working on the frontline during this national crisis.

4. Food and supplies

It is well documented that access to supermarkets is proving problematic and for the key workers it will more difficult for them to access supermarkets as they are working. Barnet UNISON has asked Barnet Council look to secure means by which food and supplies can be provided on an order basis for key workers.


***** Barnet Council have responded see below:


Hand sanitiser gel has been issued to the crews and drivers have a supply of hand wipes for them and the crew to use.  Drivers can request more from the Supervisors once their supply has gone.  Drivers are also being issued with cleansing wipes so that they are able to wipe down surfaces, handles and steering wheels in the cab.  We have also progressed arrangements to implement a cleansing regime for vehicle cabs.  Nitril gloves are currently also available on request for those who may wish to use them.

We have sourced resource that will be undertaking a deep cleanse of the RCV cabs on Saturday this week.  Following this, we will have a team of four people working from Monday to clean the vehicle cabs.  RCV’s will be cleaned on Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings and Street Cleansing vehicles will be cleaned on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.


No bonus payment will be paid to key workers.

Mental Health

Mental Health First Aiders to be made available for staff to contact and discuss their issues.

Food and Supplies




Housing Restructure Update

Dear member,

I hope you and all your loved ones are well.

See attached or below.

This is the latest update from management in regard to the ongoing Consultation in Leasehold, Neighbourhood, Rental Income and Customer Contact Centre.

I have not been able to consult with you on these proposals or call a meeting with you to discuss whether these proposals change the position agreed upon the last time we met on the 11 March 2020.

The position then was for a dispute to be lodged at JNCC and thereafter enable an indicative ballot of members effected by as to what industrial action you are prepared to take.

Obviously the Corona Virus has markedly changed priorities.

The next scheduled JNCC is on the 3 April 2020 – so given that management have moved their position, put some further risk mitigating measures in place and moved the interview dates for ‘at risk’ staff to the 1st of June

Should UNISON lodge the dispute?

Or wait and continue further dialogue?

Please reply to this email and indicate either 1 or 2.


Let me know your thoughts –

In solidarity

Stay safe

Patrick Hunter

UNISON Convenor for The Barnet Group






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