The unemployed, students and the retired are among the groups that Unite, the largest union in the country, wishes to mobilise so that they can make improvements in their local community.
Unite has appointed Kelly Tomlinson as community co-ordinator for the south east to bring together groups not covered by traditional trade union membership, so that they can get involved in campaigns in their area, for example, to save their local library from closure.
Kelly Tomlinson, who lives in Portsmouth, said: "Across the south east, communities – from Oxford to Brighton and from Southampton to Margate - feel like they don't have a voice.
“Unite community membership is going to help change that. We think it's time that people who don’t have a job for whatever reason are now going to have access to the benefits of trade union membership.
"That means members will have access to all kinds of training and education in order to enhance their skills. But most importantly, it will allow communities to come together and get organised to create positive change. By becoming part of the UK and Ireland's largest trade union, you've got 1.5 million allies in standing up for your rights.
"All across the south east people have already been getting in touch to join. I'm really looking forward to working with communities throughout the region, helping them identify their own campaigning priorities and work to bring them about. Ordinary members will decide how community membership develops, and I'm really excited to see what good ideas people have.
Kelly Tomlinson is one of seven community co-ordinators appointed by Unite across the UK whose role is to engage with the community at the grassroots and offer new community members the benefits of a trade union for the cost of 50p a week.
Unite regional secretary for the south east John Rowse said: “The community membership scheme, launched by Unite, seeks to energetically engage with groups not covered by trade union membership.
“We need to mobilise right across communities in the south east to improve lives and take a stand against the austerity policies of the coalition which have brought misery to tens of thousands of people across the south east.”
For further information please contact Unite campaigns officer, Liane Groves on 07793 661657 for interviews with the new community co-ordinators and/or Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940 to obtain a photograph of Kelly Tomlinson.
- Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.5 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.