RCN members are at the centre of the college’s work, probably more so than ever. All the way from representing fellow members in the workplace to supporting campaigns for nursing across the media, there are a range of opportunities for you to get involved, and if you are already involved, more so!
But truthfully, it really is up to you to decide how much you want to do.
Being ‘active’ isn’t all about the stuff that gets our hearts racing and blood pumping, like our protests outside parliament. It’s also about building the strength of the union, supporting events and simply having conversations about the things that matter to you.
So to start, if you have 2 minutes, why not speak to a colleague and encourage them to join the RCN? It’s important that as a union we are able to support as many people in the workplace as possible. Bringing your colleagues into the RCN family can help us do just that. The more staff we represent, the bigger our leverage in workplace disputes and the bigger the nursing voice, which allows us to campaign locally and nationally with even more force.
And on the subject of campaigning do you have five minutes to spare? If so, have a conversation with a colleague or with friends and family about the way the nurse staffing crisis is affecting you. If we are to win our campaign for staffing for safe and effective care then we need you to speak out about the times you couldn’t take a break, the times you had to work late and the times you couldn’t provide your patients with the level of care you wanted to. It is only by sharing your stories that people will understand why the RCN’s campaign to end the nurse staffing crisis is so important. You can read my last blog for more information on the campaign.
Or if you’re a bit nervous about having those conversations face to face, why not start by signing up to become an ecampaigner. You’ll receive a monthly email with a quick and simple online action that you can carry out on behalf of the campaign from the comfort of your own sofa.
If you have a bit more time you could attend your next branch meeting. These meetings are a great chance for you to meet members from the local area, discuss issues affecting nursing and the services you work in, and to get involved in local and national RCN campaigns. You can find out when your next branch meeting takes place, and how to contact the branch executives here.
Perhaps you are more interested in providing support to colleagues and members in your area. Representatives (reps) are a vital link between the RCN and its members. Why not consider becoming a steward, a safety rep or a learning rep. You could be representing members in disputes, influencing policy, promoting safety or signposting members to learning development opportunities. It looks great on your CV, too. The RCN website has more information about the roles and which might suit you.
If you wonder what goes on at board meetings, why not come to sit in on one to get a flavour of the work they do? You could attend a London Board meeting, or a Council meeting. And perhaps, if it sparks an interest, you can take it further. When elections come round you could put yourself forward to become a member of the London Board or RCN Council. These opportunities will be widely advertised on the RCN website and on social media when they arise.
Remember, activism can be as much or as little as you are able commit to - I hope after reading this you have seen something that fits the bill for you.