For this week’s post, Sharan Bandesha and June Chandler from UNISON talk about the relationship between BAOT regional groups and UNISON.
For many of you, understanding the relationship and structures of BAOT and UNISON can seem quite daunting, but it’s a lot simpler than you might think. Since BAOT contracted its trade union services to UNISON in 1993, BAOT and UNISON have worked together in partnership to provide you with a number of benefits. The professional services help to inform your practice as an OT, whilst the industrial relations services provide you with support, guidance and representation related to your terms and conditions of employment, and equips you with the knowledge and skills to deal with those issues in your workplace, especially if you’re a steward.
The BAOT Regional Committees run alongside UNISON’s twelve Regional OT Stewards’ Forums which are made up of trained and accredited OT stewards from across the UK. Both aim to bring members’ needs to the forefront of the profession; in fact your role as a steward fits in perfectly with the work of the Regional Committee as it allows you to keep your members’ needs high on the agenda. In addition to this, you will have a chance to design study days for your region on current professional topics which you feel are also relevant to union issues. We know that many of our stewards put equalities at the heart of everything they do, so why not use your skills to think about developing study day sessions with an added equalities dimension?
For many stewards, recruiting new members is often something you do without even realising it. Whether you simply have a conversation with a colleague about why they should join or give them information on becoming a member, you can also use your knowledge of the membership and workplace structures to think of exciting ways to recruit new members to BAOT. Once they become members of BAOT, they will automatically become members of UNISON. Remember, the more members we have as a union and profession, the stronger our voice and the better we can represent OT issues.
So why not think about nominating yourself to become a member of your BAOT Regional Committee? Not only will it complement your skills as both a steward and an OT, but it will also give you further networking opportunities and a chance to influence and inform your profession on a wider scale.
You can get involved on the COT website.
Our spotlight for this week is on the Treasurer and Regional Forum Lead:
The Treasurer has a watchdog role over all aspects of financial management, working closely with other members of the regional committee. This may sound daunting, but most accounting is commonsense once you understand the basics – it is about money coming in, and money going out.
The responsibilities are structured and procedural, which makes learning the job fairly straightforward. The tasks don’t change much year to year, so if you’re transitioning from a well-organised predecessor, you’re in great shape. But the job does require attention to detail, good organisation, and an affinity for numbers. The key is to understand the fundamentals and have a general idea of what to expect down the road.
A good treasurer will:
- Be trustworthy.
- Be impartial.
- Be methodical.
- Feel comfortable working with figures.
- Be willing to explain figures if asked.
- Make it easy for others to take over by keeping clear records.
All regional committee treasurers receive dedicated training from the College of Occupational Therapists (COT), and the in-house management of regional financial accounts means that the responsibilities typically associated with the treasurer (auditing accounts, keeping account balances, etc.) are all managed by officers at COT.
Regional Forum Lead
The UK BAOT Branches Forum was established in 2012 and is now really hitting its stride. It is an opportunity for regional and COT Specialist Section representatives to come together and share information and ideas on common themes and activities. The Branches are key to the work of the organisation, and, to recognise their contribution, senior members of COT staff and the BAOT/COT Council Chairman attend these meetings.
The Regional Forum Lead will be responsible for sharing the work of the committee and grassroots information with other regional representatives at the UK BAOT Regional Branches Forum (UKBRF). This is a dedicated afternoon meeting which follows on from the Branches Forum and focuses on the priorities of each of the 12 UK BAOT regions.
This role is an active one and requires the added time commitment to attend twice yearly meetings at COT headquarters in London. It is also a key role in the delivery and dissemination of information between the regional members, committee and the COT officers who support the larger board and council structures. As such, your voice is important and this role requires someone willing to be engaged, enthusiastic and motivated. The skills gained in this role are numerous and would support members interested in pursuing development to a senior job including management or department lead.