Black Activists UNISON Hertfordshire In UNISON, Black is used to indicate people with a shared history. Black with a capital ‘B’ is used in its broad political and inclusive sense to describe people in Britain that have suffered colonialism and enslavement in the past and continue to experience racism and diminished opportunities in today’s society.

Ugo Nwachuku-Rowell

I am a Black woman who is originally from Nigeria.

I have worked in the care sector for the last ten years, starting off as a care assistant then getting my MSc in Social Work from the University of Hertfordshire in 2018.

Since this time, I have worked within the Adult Care Services arm of Hertfordshire County Council. My role presently involves working with adults who have learning and/or physical disabilities, their carers and other agencies.

The death of George Floyd in May 2020, coupled with experiences of racism and bullying in my own life, were the catalysts that prompted me to put myself forward as an officer within Unison. My sincere hope and desire is that I can be a force for good, for encouraging open discussion about race issues, promoting the pursuit of justice and, not least, to be an example for my own children of how to achieve positive change through activism.

As spokesperson, my goal is to obtain support and advice for other Black members on real life discrimination issues and continue to work to improve equality and challenge racism and discrimination not only in the workplace but also in society as a whole.

Ugo is the Black Members' Officer and Chair of the Black Self-Organised Group in UNISON Hertfordshire.

Afi Claxton

My ethnicity is Black Caribbean, originally from Trinidad.

I am currently working for Hertfordshire County Council within Children Services as a Leaving Care Personal Adviser for young people between the ages of 18- 25. I advocate for these young people whiles multi-agency working with housing, DWP benefits, CGL for drug and alcohol support, mental health services and multiple other services as needed. I have worked with young people in various settings over the past 7 years.

I was strongly influenced to join the union as an officer due to the challenges I faced within employment regarding my health condition. I have Sickle Cell Anaemia which is mostly common in certain ethnic groups; people of African descent, African American, Hispanic Americans, Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern etc. As this condition exist in specific groups of people there is a lack of knowledge and understanding as to how this affects these groups. This has therefore led to me being discriminated/bullied on several occasions.

Without uncertainty there would be many other people like myself who would face similar challenges in life due to their health conditions or disability, race, beliefs etc. I will therefore like to be a voice for those people, bring awareness, promote justice and equality, as no one should be treated unequally.

I want to build my activism around positive change, challenge issues faced by the BAME/ Black community, be a part of that positive change for my daughter’s generation and generations to come.

As spokesperson,my goal is to support BAME/Black members to obtain the appropriate support needed to assist with the various challenges faced daily.

I look forward to be a great example and to support others to understand, change will not come without challenge, success will not come without hard work and things may seem impossible, but nothing is impossible until it is done.

Afi is a steward in UNISON Hertfordshire.

Subenbran 'Sid' Mariathasan

I started my time in the Trade Union back in 1996, in which I worked in the aviation sector namely American Airlines I joined the then T&G which then became Unite.

I wanted to change the tide of American work ethic thinking / culture within the British work force. We are not a hire and fire work force. I did this for about 13 years.

I then joined the prison and custodial sector as a steward and Branch Secretary (Prison service Union then became Community Union), my main reason to be part of this union and become active was for the silent majority who find it difficult to speak up, who see, hear and feel the issues that go around them but find it difficult to be heard or are drowned out by those that only want the benefits for themselves. I want to continue this passion with UNISON.

Employers give the impression that everything is fine, but really and truthfully it is not. We are all human beings who want to be treated equally and fairly in the work place with no discriminations.

Sid is the Vice Chair of the Black Self-Organised group and UNISON Hertfordshire.

Fransisca Mhosva

I am a pure Zimbabwean who has lived in this country for more than 20 years. In Zimbabwe, I worked as a secretary for different organisations. When I moved to the United Kingdom, I worked for non-profit organisations as a care team manager and a team leader.

During these years of experience, I developed various skills that motivated me to study Business Management in Health and Social Care with Anglia University in London.

When I joined Quantum Care in 2002, I was fortunate that I was made aware of the services offered by UNISON by Maggie Lilly, a UNISON rep. I then became the founding member of the Black Self-Organised group in Hertfordshire. Through this group, I was encouraged to train as a steward. I have already completed the Health and Safety training and will finish my Organising Stewards' course this July. After that, I am an accredited trade union steward.

I hope that we will be able to reduce the incidents of interrelationships between races. I plead for sanity to prevail among different ethnic groups to accept living in harmony with one another.

I would encourage my fellow Black and Minority Ethnic members in UNISON to be more active and get our acts together in campaigning for the issues that affect us.

Fransisca is a steward in the private care sector.

Lillian Oluwi

I am a social worker working with children who are 0-25 in Apsley. I recently joined UNISON and put myself forward for a steward position to help promote justice and fairness in my workplace. These principles align with my job, working with families from diverse backgrounds and with multi-agency professionals.

I want to see a future of the workplace embedded in diversity and inclusion.

Lillian is a steward in Hertfordshire County Council.

Rita Sarpong

I am Black woman born in Ghana . I came to the United Kingdom to pursue a dream.

I joined the care industry because I've always had a passion for helping others. For me, caring for older people is about making them happy and feel valued.

I became a UNISON steward, so I can help others and contribute to the campaign against racism. Black workers have a significant role in tackling this problem, but we can never achieve this if we do not work together.

Rita is a rep in the private care at UNISON Hertfordshire.

Isata Yumkella

I am originally from Sierra Leone. I now work as a community care officer in the sensory team and have worked in Hertfordshire Council for over five years. I started as a customer service advisor and worked my way up as an operations officer. Before that, I worked at Enfield Council as an administrator in different departments.

I became a UNISON steward because of the bullying and discrimination I went through before. At the time, I was not a member of the union. By becoming a steward with UNISON, I can make a difference to others through my experience.

Isata is a steward at Hertfordshire County Council.

Created By
Jamima Fagta BedsHerts Team