Unite opens first rural community centre in Forest of Dean

Unite opens first rural community centre in Forest of Dean

16 September 2013

The first Unite community centre in the countryside to support its members to get back to work officially opens in the Forest of Dean on Friday (20 September). 

The centre at The Miners Hall, Wesley Road,  Cinderford, GL14 2JN will be open for three days a week (11.30 –17.00 from Tuesday-Thursday) offering Lifelong Learning, including skills to assist members of the UK largest union getting back into employment; advice on how to organise in the community to fight the austerity cuts; and signposting local councillors’ surgeries.

There will also be a programme of social events to help weld the community together.

Labour shadow leader in the House of Lords, Lady Royall of Blaisdon, who lives locally, will be at the opening at 11.30 on Friday.

Unite regional secretary Laurence Faircloth said: “This exciting development brings Unite back into our industrial heartlands. Our members can be confident that we are aware of their local issues and that Unite is seeking to work with the people of the Forest to address them.

“By working with local campaign groups and politicians we can ensure that our members’ voices are heard and that issues that matter to them are top of the local agenda.”

Unite regional community coordinator Brett Sparkes said: “I am really pleased that we are opening this centre in Cinderford, The local communities of the Forest of Dean are in great need of support and this centre will go some way to providing that assistance.

“Our experience of working with local groups and individuals ensures that issues which matter to people are campaigned for. This centre will become a focal point for making those changes.”

Unite learning organiser in the Forest of Dean Andy Hewlett said: “As a resident of the Forest, I am proud to have been at the forefront of bringing this centre to Cinderford.

“Unite’s ability to bring learning to those, who are often forgotten, is just the start.

“Courses, such as forklift truck and HGV training and using computers, will provide locals with the skills employers need and give confidence to those who are looking for work or just to improve their chances.”

Cllr Diana Martin of the Forest of Dean Labour party said: “We fully support the opening of the Unite learning centre in the Forest of Dean. The Forest has needed such a facility for a long time to assist in helping the unemployed back into work.

“I hope that this will be a continuation of the positive partnership we have with Unite now and in the future.”

Unite has already opened three such centres this year – in Barnsley, Belfast and Tower Hamlets in east London.


For further information please contact Brett Sparkes on 07702 874 585 and/or Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 07768 693940

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.