I’ve been a representative for the RCN since 2010. The most rewarding thing about my role is helping people through difficult times. Members thanking you for your support makes the whole job worthwhile. Being a rep within the RCN is a great opportunity; it benefits you personally due to its effect on your professional development - the opportunities are fantastic. It builds your confidence, and gives you the opportunity to do things you’d never think you’d have to, such as deal with the media. I work within a local trust as a nurse teaching fellow and also act as staff side chair within the trust.
I’ve currently got four roles in the RCN on top of my representative role:
- Chair of County Durham and Darlington branch. I’d encourage everyone who can to come along to a branch meeting.
- Chair of the Northern board. I was vice-chair until Gordon Lees retired. To be a good chair you need to be able to control meetings in a calm, dignified way and give everyone an opportunity to have their say. You need to be a good listener; assertive and self-confident, but also not be too overpowering.
- Vice chair of the UK Stewards Committee, representing Northern Region reps
- I’m now on the new Trade Union Committee as the Northern representative. The committee only came into force on 1 January.
It’s an honour to be trusted to represent the Northern region at national level. The TUC Committee has come about as the result of a huge change in the governance of the RCN. The number of seats on Council has reduced to 12 and the professional and trade union sides of the college have been divided into the remits of these two committees. We’ll look at all trade union related aspects of the College’s work and make recommendations to the new smaller Council. It’s exciting to be elected onto the committee, I’m looking forward to a challenge, and I think it will be a challenging time ahead for the RCN protecting members’ terms and conditions, not only in the NHS but also within the private sector.
It should be interesting … especially waiting for the pay review body to make its recommendation and waiting to see whether or not the government is going to give us a decent pay rise, and then consulting with our members on the offer they make. Whatever happens there will be challenging times ahead.
With the strategic roles – chairing the board, I now have to work with peers from all walks of health care, so it’s giving me an understanding of how other health sectors work. I now have to think how we can support everyone, not just NHS members. Sometimes people tend to forget that, we don’t have much independent sector representation in the branch executive teams or on the board, so that’s one of my personal objectives to change that over the next year as chair of the Board. Another is to acheive more effective two-way communication with our membership, getting our members to communicate with the board and the branches, and getting them more active and involved with the RCN generally.
Having all these roles on top of the day job I feel busy; but I’m very good at not taking work home with me. Once I hit my home I don’t like to think about work – it’s my time then.