Getting involved in equality

This page provides information for members wanting to find out more about UCU's equality work and how to get more involved with the work the union does.

At UCU's annual Congress 2016, the following motion was passed:

Say her name: Justice for Sarah Reed

Congress condemns the tragic death this year of Sarah Reed. Sarah, a young black woman, developed mental health issues after having to transport her dead baby in a taxi and was later assaulted by a police officer. At the time of her death she was severely ill but held in custody rather than psychiatric care, where she reportedly killed herself.  Sarah's death is not isolated but one of a series of incidents in which black people are harmed or killed by the authorities. We call on the union to:

  1. affiliate with and provide financial and practical support to the Justice for Sarah campaign
  2. act as radical educators by raising noise about this incident and the pattern of racist and misogynistic institutionalised abuse it falls into in our institutions
  3. call branch and regional meetings to organise around this issue, and invite speakers from the campaign to these meetings.

The following is an abridged version of the speech given to Congress by Rhiannon Lockley in moving the above motion.

'Wednesday 22nd June would have been Sarah Reed's 33rd birthday.

Sarah Reed was a young, black, mentally ill woman. She died in prison earlier this year.

Sarah Reed was a mother. After the death of her child in 2003 Sarah was left by a hospice to carry her baby's body across town in a taxi, wrapped in a sheet, to the undertaker. She never really recovered from this and from then on struggled with severe mental health issues.

In 2012 a police officer was caught on CCTV carrying out a violent assault on Sarah. He was filmed yanking her by the hair, dragging her across the floor, pressing on her neck and punching her several times in the head. He received 150 hours community service.

Following this brutal attack by a police officer Sarah's mental health deteriorated further. While under section she was arrested for what she stated was self-defense against a sexual assault. The decision was taken for her to be incarcerated, in spite of her severe mental health issues, in Holloway prison.

It was not the right place for a very poorly young woman who in her 30s would climb in her mother's bed for comfort at night.

Earlier this year she was found dead in her cell. Her family were initially told that she was found hanging, then that she had strangled herself.'

Please join the day of action to mark Sarah's birthday. You can do this by finding and sharing information about Sarah's case, and by posting solidarity photographs and or videos. The hashtags to use are ‪#‎SayHerName ‪#‎JusticeForSarahReed and ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter. You can read Sarah's mother's story of what happened to her daughter here.

Equality toolkit - a resource for UCU equality reps and regional equality officers

This is guide designed for UCU equality officers. It contains plenty of useful information and links around equality legislation, how to campaign for equality and and how to link in with UCU's work. If you require a hard copy, contact

UCU Equality Toolkit [892kb]

Stephen Lawrence fund

The TUC is calling on trade unions and trade unionists to help protect the legacy of Stephen Lawrence by giving generously to the Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust fund raising appeal to ensure that the vital work of the Trust continues and that Stephen's legacy lives on.

You can donate online by visiting or by text message. Text TUCS99 followed by the £ symbol, then the amount to 70070.

They receive a text message receipt, and the chance to add Gift Aid (by filling in a web form or by text message). JustTextGiving is free for you the sponsor and the charity you're supporting.

Stephen Lawrence Fund [83kb]       Stephen Lawrence Fund [24kb]

UCU women: moving further, reaching higher

'Moving further, reaching higher' was a Union Learning Fund project running in UCU's north west region.

ULF women The north west UCU women 'moving further, reaching higher' project finished at the end of March 2015 after three fabulous years.

Over that time we have increased the number of UCU learning representatives in the north west by over 100% and also increased the number of equality representatives. We have organised events aimed particularly at women members to support their personal and professional development.

We have developed free online accredited training courses on 'stress and mental health awareness', 'personal development' and 'understanding your employer's accounts'.

ULF women projectWomen - inspired to lead? We have developed a package of 'lunch and learn' sessions for reps to facilitate with members and have organised individual career review sessions with members. We have organised a number of practitioner's events for members: 'modern languages', apprenticeship and traineeships, additional support and functional skills, maths and English. We have also delivered dyslexia awareness and computer awareness sessions. We have held an FE professionals event - 'Reflection', and an 'opportunities and options for higher education professionals' event at UCLAN. 

ULF women project event participantsApprenticeships practitioners event We have reported regularly to the north west regional committee and organised fringe meetings at UCU Congress. We have taken our stand to branches, other learning events and Pride events. We have marched with our banner at Liverpool pride and at international women's events. We have celebrated the work of our UCU learning representatives at Congress. We have organised work place CPD events and been supported in particular by Chris Mason (UCU pensions expert), John Bamford (UCU health and safety consultant), north west trade union education units and many others.

ULF women project - online course tasterOnline course taster and launch session We have conducted individual induction and support sessions with UCU learning representatives and Equality representatives and extended training sessions, spoken at branch meetings and other meetings about the project.

The project has published several documents to support members and representatives, including: union learning representative checklists and information, North West Learning Magazine - Educate Energise Organise, UCU gender report in FE/HE north west region, 'Why a UCU learning rep?', women bulletins, ULF women apprecticeships & trainees cover 'Maternity rights for fixed-term contract and casually employed staff', 'Job health check, activist's continuous development, 'Continuous professional development and career progression in an education environment', International Women's Day postcards, 'Life work balance and family friendly work', 'Supporting members with career reviews', ULF job health check cover 'Visual personal profile', 'Transferable skills', 'Career timeline', 'Career action plan', 'Creating surveys and petitions for free', 'Apprenticeships and traineeships a guide for lecturers and support staff', and lunch and learn documents on: the menopause, coaching and mentoring, equality, assertiveness, presentation skills, meeting  skills, work life balance, negotiating skills, Survey monkey, Twitter and Facebook. As well as equality posters and a film on the importance of the role of UCU learning representatives.

The project team would like to record our thanks for all the support we have received from members, representatives and full time officers of UCU. In particular we would like to thank those people who have served on the steering group, currently: Helen Carr, Martyn Moss, Karen Brooks, Gareth Storey, Ife Bardi, Alison Hollinrake, Pat Hornby-Atkinson, Dominique Lautenburg, Paul Hatton, Nina Doran and Vicky Knight. We would also like to thank those past members including Lynn Collins, Pauline Murphy, Cheryl Felstead, Dan Taubman, Charlotte Nelson and Maire Daley. Finally, a special thanks to UCU general secretary Sally Hunt, without her continued support, the project would not have existed or continued for as long as it has.

ULF logo Janet Newsham - Project worker
Rachel Doyle - Project administrator

Last updated: 30 June 2016