Barnet UNISON is supporting World Mental Health Day 10 October

Barnet UNISON is supporting World Mental Health Day 10 October

As the song goes: “Everybody hurts sometimes”


In a number of our services stress and mental health issues account for the leading reasons for sickness absence. These are often services where our members have roles looking after the wellbeing of residents they serve so it can be difficult admitting you’re not coping when you are supposed to be the “strong one”. Please view this link where our own Branch Secretary, John Burgess, gives a personal account of his own experience.

World Mental Health Day 10 October 2018

Digital support links below

Type of application Application What does it do? Cost Notes
Mental Health Wellbeing Headspace Simple to use meditation app, can help with many mental health issues (i.e. anxiety or insomnia) 10 day free basics course. In-app purchases afterwards. Suggested by LD team

Barnet Voice believe this is the best app

Chill Panda Measures your heart rate and suggests tasks to suit your state of mind, including breathing techniques and light exercises to take your mind off your worries. Being tested by the NHS. Free on the Apple store
Cove Allows users to create music to capture their mood and emotions. Users can store their music on a personal journal, or send them to others. Free from the Apple store
ieso ieso is an online course using instant messaging for people with mental health problems. This is a confidential service that puts people in touch with a therapist trained in cognitive behavioural therapy. Currently not available in Barnet (available in Camden and Enfield) LD team suggest we omit
Reasons2 Free app designed by Young People and Washington Mind to help improve mental health. Allows people build their own profile of Reasons2 feel better. Free from Apple store and Google play
Cypher This is an anonymous peer-to-peer social network, that allows people to:

·         anonymously share their thoughts and feelings

·         post comments, ‘hugs’, ‘hearts’, and ‘me2s’ on what others share

·         instant message others in their support network

·         use the “Get support” function to connect with other support organisations

·         pick a virtual pet who gets happier the more good you do

This is currently being tested by the NHS.

Free from Apple store and Google play
EleFriends Online community developed by Mind. Moderated from 10am until midnight. Free from Apple store and Google play
RCPsych Mental Health App Provides information about key mental health disorders and links to relevant videos and podcasts Free from Apple store and Google play
Five Ways to Wellbeing App gives user ability to set wellbeing activities to complete throughout the week and reflect on progress. Free on google play
Wrap – Wellness Recovery Plan WRAP involves listing your personal resources (Wellness Tools) and using these to create Action Plans, to use in specific situations. Developed by a group of people who have lived experience of mental health difficulties. £4.99 on Apple Store and £3.03 on google play.
Happier Apple Watch app that is like your personal mindfulness coach – use it to lit your mood, take a quick mediation pause, or capture the small happy moments that you find in your day. Free on apple store and google play
Diary Mood Tracker Mood diary, that allows you to keep a track of your moods through icons and notes. This can help you understand your habits better. Free on apple store and google play
Depression and Anxiety SilverCloud Eight-week course to help people manage stress, anxiety and depression. Users work through a series of topics selected by therapists to address specific needs. Only available via an NHS referral or some non-NHS organisations, such as universities.
Stress & Anxiety Companion Helps people to handle stress and anxiety from a mobile app. Includes breathing exercises, relaxing music and games. Free on the Apple store
Catch it Helps people manage feelings such as anxiety and depression. The app records the user’s mood in three steps:

·         “Catch it” records and rates their mood

·         “Check it” asks them to take a moment to reflect on what they are thinking

·         “Change it” asks them to think of a better way of dealing with that problem

Free on Apple store and Google Play
Big White Wall Online community for people who are stressed, anxious or feeling low. There is also round-the-clock support from trained professionals. Users can talk anonymously to other members and take part in group or one-to-one therapy. Not available in Barnet. Individuals can sign up for £9.99 a month.
FearFighter Online course for people who struggle with phobias, panic or anxiety. Teaches you how to confront and change the thoughts that cause panic and anxiety. This teaches users to control their fears by gradually being exposed to situations that trigger them. Unclear if offered for free in Barnet. Privately, users can sign up for between £99 and £179. LD team suggest we remove this
Calm Harm An app designed to help people resist or manage the urge to self-harm. Based on the principles of dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) – a type of talking therapy. Encourages users to distract themselves from urges to self-harm and manage their “emotional mind” in a more positive way. Free from the Apple store
Mental Health Recovery Guide If you suffer from depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, and if you are a mental health outpatient, or a newly discharged psychiatric in-patient, this app will help you get well and stay well. Free on apple store and google play
WellMind Free NHS mental health and wellbeing app that helps with stress, anxiety and depression. Includes advice, tips and tools. Free on apple store and google play
What’s Up? Utilises Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) methods to help you cope with depression, anxiety, anger and stress. Free on apple store and google play
SAM: Self-help for Anxiety Management App to help you understand and manage anxiety. You can monitor your anxious thoughts and behaviour over time. Includes self-help exercises, private reflection and the “social cloud”, which enables you to share your experiences on the SAM community while protecting your identity. Free on apple store and google play
Mood Tools – Depression Aid Designed to alleviate negative moods. The app includes a thought diary, activities, a suicide safety plan and depression tests. Free on google play
Fear Tools – Anxiety Kit Designed to combat anxiety. Especially useful for those suffering from Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Phobias and Social Anxiety Disorder. The app includes a thought diary, an exposure programme to overcome fears and a breathing tool. Free on google play
Anxious Minds This app includes a support group, online peer support sessions, advice and tips and blogs written by anxiety sufferers. Free on google play
Talking Point Online community for anyone affected by dementia. The app is a space for people to ask questions and share experiences about any aspect of dementia. Free website
Recovery Record – Eating Disorder App App for managing your journey to recovery from eating disorders including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Intended for people with general eating, weight and shape concerns. This is based on CBT. You can keep a record of your meals, and link this with your treatemend team. Free on apple store and google play


Waste & Recycling Round restructure questions

Barnet UNISON has conducted our own consultation with members about the new round restructure.

We have asked senior management to respond to the questions raised by UNISON members working in Waste and Recycling below:

1. How many vehicles do we currently have available for the new round restructure?

2. How many refuse rounds will there be in the new round restructure and what is the staffing numbers?

3. How many recycling rounds will there be in the new round restructure and what is the staffing numbers?

4. How many Trade rounds will there be in the new round restructure and what is the staffing numbers?

5. How many green waste rounds will there be in the new round restructure and what is the staffing numbers?

6. Currently the Hazard vehicle round operates three days a week. Will it still be operating and what are the crew numbers?

7. Impact Vehicle (IPV) currently operates three days a week what is the plan for this service?

8. Will there still be a Bin delivery and if so what are the staffing numbers?

9. How many shunt vehicles will be available on a daily basis?

10. What rounds will be getting shunts?

11. What is the estimated down time for shunts?

12. How many spare vehicles do we have?

13. What are number of locations per round?

14. How many bins and size per location?

15. Please provide the mileage walked by loaders per round?

16. How will flat refuse be collected?

17. How will flat recycling be collected?

18. What are the days for each postal district?

19. How are the locations with more than one collection day be collected?

20. Will there be maps provided for each new round?

21. When will public be informed?

22. When will staff be consulted and be informed about their round?

23. What are the contingency plans in the event of failure to collect?

24. What is the plan for the ever growing number of new developments to be incorporated into the new round?

25. Will agency staff still be used?

26. What are the estimated travelling times for each round to and from depots to the prescribed five postal districts?

27. What are the estimated tipping times from each area to Hendon or Edmonton?

28. Will black sacks be used, if so who will deliver them?

29. Where access for large vehicles is prohibited how far are staff expected to pull bins from bin areas to vehicle?

30. Have risk assessment’s been done for each new round?

31. Have Round Descriptions been completed for each new round?

32. Will the Round Descriptions include the presence potential hazards and restrictions such as;

  • Parked Vehicles
  • Narrow Lanes
  • Steep Slopes
  • Pedestrian usage
  • Schools/Care Homes and other buildings that may present increase risk, hazards or restrictions Poor Lighting or Visibility

33. Will the Round Descriptions include the nearest locations of:

  • Public/Staff Accessible Toilets
  • Hospitals
  • Nearest refuelling point (in case of emergency)

34. Have the rounds been walked and tested?

35. What is current overall capacity in tonnage for each existing refuse round per day?

36. What is the overall capacity expected in tonnage for each new refuse round per day?

37. What is current overall capacity in tonnage for each existing flat refuse round per day?

38. What is the current overall capacity in tonnage for the existing food waste round per day?

39. What is the current overall capacity in tonnage for RATS/FLASH collection rounds per day?

40. What is the current overall tonnage for each existing recycling round per day?

41. What is the overall capacity expected tonnage for each new recycling round per day?

42. What is the current overall tonnage for the food waste collected by the recycling rounds per day?

44. What is current overall tonnage for all (mid-week and Saturday collection) flat recycling rounds?

45. What is the current overall tonnage for each existing refuse restricted access round per day?

46. What is the current overall tonnage for each existing recycling restricted access round per day?

47. Currently we have restricted access rounds. How will the new round collection service address restricted access to locations?

48. What is the current overall tonnage of the Saturday green waste rounds?

49. Will the crews be alternated between refuse and recycling each week?


Kick out Capita from Barnet Council now petition

Kick out Capita from Barnet Council now


Why is this important?

The recent successfully prosecuted fraud case where a Capita employee stole over £2million from Barnet Council underlines the urgent need for the Council to take back control of all of the former Council services from Capita.

Barnet Council commissioned Grant Thornton (GT) to undertake a major review to identify how such a large scale fraud had been able to take place. This project, called Project Rose, was given a budget of “up to” £500,000 and has been on-going ever since.

The review found:
• Lack of budgetary controls
• Not carrying out basic bank detail checks
• Inexperienced managers responsible for large amounts of money
• Lack of written financial procedures and checklists

Barnet Council agreed to pay Capita £252.54 million

But, Barnet Council have already paid Capita £352.41 million with FIVE more years to go!

Barnet Council is in financial crisis with a budget overspend of £10.3 million this financial year and a funding gap of £66.8 million over the next three years.

Frontline services such as street cleansing, waste and recycling, Libraries, social care are all facing more and more cuts that are already affecting Barnet residents.

Capita Plc are in their own financial crisis.

Their Share Price has dropped from £13 a share to under £1.50 a share in the space of the last two years.

On 11 December 2018, Barnet Council Policy and Resources Committee will decide on whether to end both contracts. We are campaigning that they VOTE to end both contracts and begin the urgent process of taking back control of those services.

Details of the Grant Thornton Review on Capita

Is this the end of Capita in Barnet – Grant Thornton’s report is a devastating critique of Capita’s dismal performance

Project Rose: the devastating report Barnet Tories didn’t want you to read

Damning report slams Capita and financial management at Barnet Council


Outsourcing in Barnet : “Thank God we didn’t outsource this time!”

Roll back 18 months and Barnet Council were still fixated about outsourcing.

They had carried out two reviews of both Capita contracts and apart from minor issues the outsourcing was being given a big thumbs up by Councillors and senior officers.

The Passenger Transport Services (PTS) which provides transport for children and adults with disabilities was being reviewed to see if a private contractor could do it cheaper and better.

Barnet UNISON was seriously concerned at the prospect of this service being outsourced along with the rest of Street Scene.

We were preparing to organise strike action.

However, the Council saw the light and PTS was kept in-house.

One of the potential contractors who were being touted as a possible bidder if they wanted to outsource was STAR CARS LIMITED (02993937)

Look what has happened to STAR CARS LIMITED (02993937)

Petitions to Wind Up (Companies)

followed a week later by this:

Appointment of Administrators

Luckily our in-house service was able to step in to provide services thus preventing children from missing their education provision.

In-house services, often underrated, overlooked but very much appreciated by Barnet UNISON.


What more outsourcing in Barnet Council? Really?

“You couldn’t make it up”, is a phrase often bandied about here in Barnet. Sadly it is oh so true.

Last Friday the day the Grant Thornton review about Capita was published on the Barnet Council website I found myself sat in a meeting listening to an assistant director propose to trial outsourcing of the the bulk transfer service.

The bulk transfer service involves the transfer of recyclables to the tip. It’s a small operation but it is done well by hard working committed staff who are always around to help out if and when there is a crisis here in Barnet.

Guess what?

I don’t have the details of the amount of savings they are looking to make because they were not supplied at the meeting. The staff who had no idea this was coming were understandably upset. Not just because they see a pay cut coming but because they were not asked if they had any ideas and when they asked for details there were none.

That is the problem we have in Barnet.

I have sat in too many meetings with senior managers and or consultants who come up with ideas that have not been put to the workforce first. If I had a pound for every time a senior manager told me that they agree that they should consult with the workforce I’d probably be able to bail out the Council.

Back to the discussions.

The workforce without any time or resources immediately started brainstorming ideas for the service. It was impressive to see and management agreed that they would produce the information that had led to the proposal to outsource the service.

Have a guess.

Yes, to date Wednesday 26 September no data has been provided to the workforce and the trade unions. It will be pretty hard now to convince the workforce that this proposal was not dreamt up on the back of a fag packet.

What’s new?

Nothing, this is just another example into the sort of flawed decision making about Council services that I have witnessed first-hand over the past decade. The damning Grant Thornton review has exposed just how services can be vandalised by outsourcing.

The sad thing it is only the staff and the residents who suffer the consequences, the officers who come up with these ideas are never around when the “s**t hits the fan”.

Anyway, we have a meeting this Friday with the staff and management , as far as Barnet UNISON is concerned the idea needs to be dropped. There is a much bigger issue facing Waste and Recycling. The new routes are due to start on 5 November. It is imperative that the new routes work for residents and that is where resources need to be going first.

John Burgess

Branch Secretary


Meanwhile back in the real world #6 : Air pollution health screening

Barnet UNISON has written to Barnet Council in order we can discuss health screening for Barnet Council workers whose duties include working outside.

Barnet UNISON notes that air pollution is a serious issue that does have a critical impact on the health.

The Greater London Area identified 16 areas of the Borough as having high pollution (2017).

Barnet UNISON is proposing that a working group is set up with input from the Barnet Public Health service in order to develop health screening for Barnet Council workers who work most of their time outside

Barnet Council does have an Air Quality Action Plan 2017-2022 which can be viewed here.

Barnet UNISON believes that working to reduce the risk to the workforce from air pollution would aid and complement this Council objective.

We will report back to our members after our meeting on Tuesday 4 September 2018.


Meanwhile back in the real world #5 : “At last, London Living Wage for Cleaners in Barnet.”

In the midst of all the mass outsourcing over the last decade one group of outsourced Barnet Council workers have not had much coverage.

I speak of the cleaners.

Barnet Council outsourced the Corporate Cleaning Service in 2004.

The Corporate Cleaning service covers most of the main Council office buildings, schools, children centres and Libraries.

It was one of my aims back then to try and get this service back in house or at the very least to ensure the cleaners were paid as a minimum the London Living Wage (LLW).

The Corporate Cleaning Service has changed contractors a number of times since 2004.

It is now delivered by Churchill Service Solutions who are currently only paying £7.83 hour.

Good News.

  • After a number of repeated requests by Barnet UNISON to address about the LLW I can now announce that the Corporate Cleaning contract now includes a clause whereby the winning contractor will now have to pay their cleaners an hourly wage (or equivalent of an hourly wage) equal to the London Living Wage.

The current London Living Wage is £10.20 hour.

This welcome news, whilst we managed to secure the LLW for other outsourced contracts this has been a longstanding fight Barnet UNISON wanted addressing.

The tender process for the Corporate Cleaning contract is currently live and the new contractor announced later this year.

Barnet UNISON welcomes the decision to ensure our cleaners are to be paid the LLW.



Welcome to yet another “merry go round” restructure for 0-19 year olds

UNISON has been in consultation with senior managers every week since the consultation opened in early July. In a consultation ballot 85% of our members agreed with UNISON that the consultation should be extended by 1 month as fundamental to the restructure is a new model of working. So far this has been denied.

Progress has been made on some points, however. UNISON has been keen to avoid redundancies and to avoid staff members experiencing a detriment in their terms and conditions.

  1. Currently there are a number of senior staff members and managers who are at risk of redundancy.
  2. There are a number of workers in the Youth Service who would experience a reduction in their pay.
  3. There is also a feeling that colleagues are being expected to take on very complex work without the pay grade that this should attract.

Avoiding Redundancies

Consultation feedback strongly recommended that the Advanced Practitioner role be made available to those not holding a social worker qualification. This has been approved and so it is our understanding that the 4.5 social workers will be assimilated but the 1.5 posts leftover will be offered up to otherwise equivalently qualified staff to fill. Over time there will be up to 3 posts at the Advanced Practitioner level made available to otherwise equivalently qualified colleagues.

The proposal is that only 3 of the Team Manager roles should be made available to those who are not qualified as social workers. This means that ALL of those in the ring fence are applying for half the number of posts. In the interests of minimising redundancies we asked that all of the Team Manager roles should be made available to all of those in the ring fence and that over time, as a colleague leaves a post, then up to 3 of those posts would be advertised specifically for social workers. This suggestion has been rejected on the basis that decisions around thresholds are such that social workers are definitely needed in the role at this level from the start.

We are disappointed that no compromise is being offered on this role.

Pay drops and pay rises

The new proposed 0-19 Practitioner Role is causing the most tension. It is graded at “H”.

Youth workers are worried at potentially dropping down in pay as they are on “I” grade.

Family Resilience workers are upset at now leading on CAFs, something they had done prior to 2014 but was removed from their job description following the 2014 restructure and receiving a cut in pay. Now they have this back in their job role but without the pay. They are on “H” grade.

Children’s Centre/ Early Years workers are worried they will be expected to carry out a role for which they feel unqualified and ill-prepared (although they will receive a pay rise) and are concerned they may end up being dismissed through being judged to be incapable. They are on “F”-“G” grade.

The most obvious way of dealing with this would be to leave everyone in the role they currently have but to allocate colleagues so there is a mix of Early Years, Youth workers and Family Resilience workers in each HUB. Everyone continues working with the cohort they are used to working with and for which they have the training and at the level appropriate to their grade. This has been rejected as the expectation will be for each practitioner to be a CAF lead.

After consultation with the colleagues from the different areas who will be assimilated into the new job role we believe the most sensible way forward would be to offer a role at “I” grade which will deal with the more complex work and this will avoid the downgrading of any colleague whilst offering the prospect of pay progression for those already doing complex work without receiving the pay recognition for it. It also means there is a job role for those who do not want to manage the stress of handling the more complex work. This option is being taken seriously by the senior managers but it is unlikely that the number of posts available at “I” grade would be sufficient to recognise the numbers of colleagues who should be at that grade. We are being told that increasing the number of posts at “I” grade will result in redundancies. We believe this is unfair as the Council has certainly made much bigger, and financially much more detrimental, decisions than this. We reject a position which sees colleagues penalised in this way.

We have also asked for the job description to recognise specialisms within the role. We believe this is important for taking this service forward and for attracting and retaining staff to the role. We also believe this takes proper account of the particularities of the different stages of development for children.

This job role is an area of concern which will need further detailed discussion and is unlikely to conclude with agreement by the end of this consultation period. On this basis we will once again appeal for an extension.

Overtime payments

A number of services run during periods outside of the standard working day. A local agreement is being looked at to ensure these services continue and that colleagues will receive a proper payment for carrying out these services.

Your UNISON negotiating team

This comprises the Branch Chair and mostly newly appointed reps from Family Resilience Team, Youth Service and now Children’s Centres. They have been making an invaluable contribution to the discussions on behalf of our colleagues and continue to do so. Please keep feeding back to them your concerns and questions.

UNISON meetings

A UNISON meeting has been organised Tuesday 28th August 12.30pm-1.30pm in Walnut Room, Building 4 NLBP to go over our final position before close of consultation.

Your reps are looking at the feasibility of organising additional UNISON meetings elsewhere in the Barnet in the afternoon of the 28th August or on 29th August. We will advertise the details become clearer.


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