How long have you been active in Napo and Branch post do you hold?
I joined Napo in 2006 and attended my first Branch meeting that year. My first AGM was in 2008 and after attending branch meetings on a regular basis I then took post as Vice Chair of West Mercia Branch in 2012. I took on the role of Branch Chair in 2012 and I am now the Co Chair of Mercia Branch. Although it was a bit of a baptism of fire going into the role of Chair as the split in the service loomed, I quickly learned that although you make mistakes you do get more confident, The Branch stuck together and is now functioning well and recruiting new members. You learn where to get support from, other branches and Chivalry road. If you don’t know, just ask.
Why do you think it’s important to be an active woman in Napo?
75% of staff in Probation and members of Napo are women, so it’s important the union is representative. With so many senior management being male it’s important that women are seen as being active and able to influence policy decisions.
Have there been any women activists that have helped or inspired you?
I’m not from a union background and had no experience of unions in the workplace before joining the Probation Service. My first experience of a Branch meeting was male dominated. However, seeing Tania Bassett take up the mantle of Branch Chair, holding management to account was an inspiration. When Tania moved on to become a National Official, I felt confident that I could step into the role with her support.
What do you thin are the most important issues for women in Napo?
Juggling the needs of a demanding job and other commitments such as caring responsibilities is a big issue for members. Female TPO’s in our area are finding this particularly difficult after qualifying. They are now part of a much bigger region and the NPS is expecting them to take up positions in workplaces in much larger geographical areas and a long way from home. There is a lack of women in senior management posts despite being in a largely female workforce and this highlights that are still barriers that women face that we need to identify and overcome.
What does Napo do to encourage women to become active in the union?
WIN and articles such as this help to highlight not only the need for women activists but that there are women activists around the country. Essentially though it needs to be at the grassroots. Women activists using their experience to inspire others. We’ve dome that in Mercia Branch and now have more female activists than men. Whilst its important to keep a balance it’s great to see so many women members coming forward and getting involved be it in a executive post or being an office contact or rep.