The Leeds School Transport Campaign: Defending Services for Vulnerable Young People tells the story of how a group of parents, DEAL, came together with our own branch of Unite Community in a unique partnership last year to campaign successfully against cuts to school transport for students over the age of 16 with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).
DEAL and Unite Community have come together once more to tell their story in the form of a pamphlet, which is available to purchase for the modest sum of £3.50p here on our Publications page. Further details of the pamphlet are also available on the link.
DEAL and Unite Community will officially launch their pamphlet on Thursday 30th May at the SEND National Crisis demonstration outside the Art Gallery on the Headrow in Leeds from 1-3pm. Unite Community will be supporting parents from various parts of Yorkshire to protest against the impact of the savage and wholly unacceptable cutbacks on services to vulnerable children and their parents. Please join us if you can.
Further details of SEND National Crisis on the organisation’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SENDNationalCrisis
Kevin Pattison reports on a plan to build a block of private flats in the Little London area of Leeds, which has encountered the anger and opposition of local residents.
An angry public meeting in Leeds called by the Little London Tenants and Residents Association on Wednesday 20th March, discussed the proposal to build a 18 story block of private flats on a small green space.
Little London is near the city centre so developers are keen to build. The area already has 9 tower blocks with mainly council tenants and very few open spaces. Continue reading
The Branch has just updated its A Guide to Food Aid in Leeds. It includes sources of food aid, welfare rights and debt advice across Leeds. It has been compiled with the help of Leeds-based charity, Unity in Poverty Action. We are very grateful for their assistance.
We have used the guide to give out to users of the main Job Centre in Leeds as part of our outreach work. Copies have also been distributed in Leeds, Morley and Pudsey as part of campaigns against benefit sanctions and Universal Credit. Unite Community and supporters have also distributed it to libraries, personal contacts, members of the Labour Party and other trade unionists.
In February of last year our branch of Unite Community was approached by a group of parents in Leeds who had been informed that the customary school transport for their children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) was to be cut from start of the current school year.
Instead of minibus travel, Leeds City Council would provide some help with transport costs and, where appropriate, offer travel training so that students could make their own way to school.
The group of students affected would have been those aged 16 years at the beginning of the school year. Many of them had either severe learning disabilities or physical disabilities or both. Similar decisions have been or are being made elsewhere in the country.
The parents formed themselves into an organisation called DEAL (Disability Empowerment Action Links) to campaign with Unite Community to reverse the cut. Following a demonstration on the Town Hall steps last April, media coverage, the collection of hundreds of signatures for a petition, and lobbying, the parents eventually met with councillors and officials in June of last year.
Following the meeting, the City Council agreed to pause the transport policy for a year and to restore the normal school transport for the rest of their children’s school careers. It was also agreed to offer a personal travel allowance to those families who would like it. But, it was stressed, the allowance would operate on a purely voluntary basis.
Since June, DEAL and Unite Community have continued to meet with the councillors and officers. The City Council agreed towards the end of last year to pause their policy for a further year, but at the last joint meeting in January with campaigners, the Council agreed to reverse the cuts to school transport altogether!
This decision represents a great result for the parents and their campaigning. From Unite Community’s point of view, it shows how we can act effectively to support those facing cuts and how we can work in partnership with community groups. In short, it shows the great value of community trade unionism.
Join Unite Community in a day of action to stop and scrap Universal Credit. We will have a stall outside Wakefield Cathedral 11am-2pm on Saturday 1st December.
We will be talking to members of the public, handing out information, gathering signatures for a petition, and carrying out a survey of those in receipt of the benefit.
Universal Credit is plagued with problems and is pushing people into debt, rent arrears and poverty. Food bank use has also increased since its introduction.
Unite Community (Leeds & Wakefield Branch) will be outside Wakefield Cathedral (by the steps) on Saturday 1st December 11-2pm giving out information about Universal Credit, talking to people about it and asking them to sign our petition and to help us to campaign against it. Please join us.
Lancashire Unite Community Youth Officer, Tom Costello, has written a very good pamphlet, Youth Fighting Back: Young Workers and Trade Unions. This brief but clear and well written account analyses why young people need unions and what unions can do for them. It includes examples of inspirational young people recently taking industrial action at McDonalds and TGI Fridays.
Tom also links trade union activity to the need to get rid of the Tories and to support Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.
There is also practical advice on what individuals can do to take forward the struggle against exploitation and unfairness experienced by young people.
Tom’s pamphlet makes a great campaigning tool in order to recruit young people to Unite Community and the wider union movement.
How to obtain a copy
A pdf version of the pamphlet is available here and hard copies can be obtained from Tom himself by contacting him on email at: firstname.lastname@example.org