Monthly Archives: January 2014

People’s Assembly North East

The people’s Assembly in the North East have a number of forthcoming events, which are detailed below:


Save Children & Young People’s Service
15 February
Young service users are putting on a solidarity event at Gateshead Old Town Hall
Saturday 15 February
6pm – 9.00pm

They have written a play which they will perform! And they are getting some great local young bands together to perform as well as organising speakers (including North East People’s Assembly) and stalls.

Here are 4 things you can do that will really help

· lend a hand by getting this flyer around as many people as possible
· help with leafleting – every Saturday up to and including the actual day of the event (from 12 noon in Trinity Square, Gateshead – pick up leaflets from Gateshead Public Services Alliance members there)
· Signpost people to the on line petitions: and

2. REPORT – Teesside PA demo

Thanks to everyone who came along to support the Teesside People’s Assembly anti-cuts lobby of Middlesbrough Council on Monday evening.

It was great to see members of at least four UNISON branches, Unite the union, the FBU, UCU and NUS, along with activists from Teesside Solidarity Movement, joining our demo.

The action achieved live coverage on Tyne Tees TV News, BBC Tees radio and the Evening Gazette live blog, and the next day we had an interview on BBC Tees and reports in the Northern Echo, Evening Gazette and Morning Star. There was also a follow-up call from BBC Tees this morning (Wednesday) as they wanted a People’s Assembly reaction to Middlesbrough Council’s plans to train volunteers to run services previously provided by paid workers.

I have attached scanned press clippings from Tuesday’s papers. There is also a video short from the demo available on the Gazette Live blog at

3. Upcoming local PA meetings

Teesside People’s Assembly Meeting
St Mary’s Centre,
82-90 Corporation Road,
Middlesbrough TS1 2RW
7:15pm, Thursday 30th January

More info:

Berwick People’s Assembly Meeting
The Rob Roy,
Dock Rd,
Berwick-upon-Tweed TD15 2BE
7pm, Friday 31st January

Sunderland People’s Assembly Meeting
Sunderland Minster,
High Street West,
Sunderland SR1 3ET
7pm, Monday 3rd February

More info:

Hexham & Tynedale People’s Assembly Inaugural Meeting
Hexham Community Centre,
Hexham NE46 3NP
7:30pm, Wednesday 5th February

More info:

Newcastle People’s Assembly Meeting
TUC Centre against Unemployment,
4 Cloth Market,
Newcastle NE1 1EE
5:30pm, Tuesday 4th February

You can keep up to date with all the latest news and information from the People’s Assembly in the North East by following their blog:


Holocaust Memorial Day

27 January marks the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp.

Holocaust Memorial Day takes place on 27 January each year.

It’s a time for everyone to pause to remember the millions of people who have been murdered or whose lives have been changed beyond recognition during the Holocaust, nazi persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.  On HMD we can honour the survivors of these regimes and challenge ourselves to use the lessons of their experience to inform our lives today.

 On Wednesday 29 January, the Durham Unite Community Support Centre will be displaying a range of information about the Holocaust and other genocides, which anyone is invited to come along and see.  We will also be holding a short ceromony by lighting a candle and having a reading of the famous statement by Pastor Martin Niemöller, “first they came for the…” which is at the bottom of this post (along with the signature of Pastor Niemöller taken from a copy of the bible he signed on 7th May 1963) – please also see a copy of our Press Release for details of this ceremony.

 The relevance of remembering the holocaust to the trade union movement couldn’t be clearer.  On the 2nd May 1933, less than 5 months after taking power, the dissolution of the German Trade unions began – more details here

 The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust website has a range of stories from survivors of the holocaust.  If you click here it will take you to the story of Esther Brunstein, the daughter of Jewish Socialists who were active in the trade union movement.


Click here for the full range of media, including films, podcasts and photographs which is available form the Trust website.  A number of short films, including survivivors own stories of their experiences, are also available on this page.

 As well as the Nazi Holocaust, there have been a number of other genocides including in Darfur, Rwanda, Bosnia and Cambodia.  Further details about these can be found on the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust Website

 Please take a few moments to reflect on the stories contained in the links, and please feel free to join us on the 29th January in helping ensure that the millions of victims of the holocaust and genocides are not forgotten.

 First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist
Then they came for the Socialists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Socialist
Then they came for the trade unionists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a trade unionist
Then they came for the Jews
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Jew
Then they came for me
And there was no one left
To speak out for me

Niemöller signature

Foodbank Stories Project – Durham Women Rising

Durham Women Rising logo

Newly formed group, Durham Women Rising, will soon be releasing their Festival Programme, packed with events that encompass Valentine’s Day, International Women’s Day and Mother’s Day. Make sure to take a look! Whilst you wait for it fly hot off the press, here’s a little bit about who they are and what Durham Women Rising is all about.

Part of the programme will include collecting stories about the causes and impacts of food poverty in County Durham. As part of this, the Durham Unite Community Support Centre will be hosting drop-in sessions for women to come along and share their stories with Durham Women Rising. These sessions will be between 9:30 a.m and 12:30 p.m on these dates:

Mon 24 Feb and Tue 25 Feb
Mon 3 Mar and Tue 4 Mar

Download the full programme here

More Information about Durham Women Rising

Who We Are

We started life as part of a global movement to call for an end to violence against women and girls known as One Billion Rising. After a successful event in Durham Market Place last Valentine’s Day, featuring high profile speakers such as Vera Baird QC & reaching at least 500 people, the participating individuals and organisations formed a local organising group to plan for 2014.

In establishing our aims, we realised:

– we wanted to link the focus of challenging violence against women with the more celebratory focus of International Women’s Day;
– we wanted the scope to organise projects & events beyond just Valentine’s Day;
– there was value in itself in the formation of a Durham-based network of organisations & individuals supporting women in our various ways.

Our Aims as a Group

– Give women and girls a voice and showcase the breadth of what we are capable of
– Make sure women and girls aware of their rights to help them make informed choices
– Encourage women and girls to base their self-esteem in themselves rather than in relation to men
– Create solidarity amongst the women and girls of County Durham
– Challenge attitudes that underpin violence against women and girls
– Influence policy-makers in regard to violence against women and girls
– Help people understand what it is like to experience violence as well as other aspects of women’s experience that are particular to women

Who is involved?

Rape Crisis Durham & Darlington
Wear Valley Women’s Aid
Changing Relations
Jack Drum Arts
North East Women’s Network
Durham County Council
The Meadows Sexual Assault Referral Centre
Harbour Support Services
Let Toys Be Toys
It Happens Here
Durham University Feminism Society
Durham Feminist Forum
Durham University Centre for Research into Violence and Abuse
Durham Creatives
Durham Women’s Refuge Four Housing
Durham Constabulary
Soroptomists International Durham
Individual Campaigners

How We Work

It is very important to us as a group that we work co-operatively, maintaining an equal relationship amongst group members. Decisions are made collaboratively, respecting the breadth of knowledge, experience and expertise of our membership. Our membership is not exclusive: we are open to other women as well as organisations that support women. We very much believe that together we are stronger, so feel free to get in touch if you’d like to get involved! If you are interested in joining the Durham Women Rising organising team, or simply being kept informed of future plans and activities, please contact us at

Our independence is also key. Whilst we are proud to involve the relevant local authorities in our plans, we believe it is vital that we remain, to some extent, outside of the system. This allows us to maintain our guiding principles, function as a critical friend and hold the relevant local policy-makers to account.

Who Has Supported Us?

Durham City Area Action Partnership
Durham Police & Crime Commissioner
Durham University
Creative Darlington
A number of Durham County Councillors, which to date includes, Councillors Guy, Crute, Pounder, Wilson, Charlton, Richardson and Rowlandson.

County Durham Community Foundation have very kindly set up a Fund-Holding Account for us, called the Durham & Darlington Women’s Festival Fund, which is open for donations for anyone interested in enabling our plans to come to fruition. If you would like to make a donation, please contact us at

Unite young members speaking out about debt

Unite young members are involved in campaigning against the cycle of debt that young people are being forced in to through tuition fees, insecure work and benefit cuts.

The following article by Anthopny Curtley, Chair of the Unite Young members section is an excellent summary of the range of issues they face, and has been published in the Huffington Post:

They have also produced this excellent buzzfeed dealing with the issues:


New welfare rights training training

Unite have secured some Fantastic Welfare Rights Training to be delivered by the Child Poverty Action Group on Wednesday the 2nd and Thursday the 3rd of April from 10 am until 4 pm at the Leeds Unite Regional Office, the two day course is titled “Benefits for non-benefit advisers”.

Please see this link for more course details .

A buffet Lunch will be provided and all travel costs reimbursed. The course has twenty available places and will be filled on a first come first served basis please could you Please Email to book your place

Unemployed tenants wrongly losing housing benefit

Councils have been unintentionaly stopping housing benefit for unemployed tenants who have been sanctioned, but are still entitled to help with their rent.

Jobseeker’s allowance and employment support allowance claimants can have sanctions applied to their claims if they miss appointments or fail to do enough to find work. But many are also having their housing benefit cut, because they are unaware that they need to tell councils their financial circumstances have changed. Local authorities are stopping claims as a result.

FUll details are in the article below. If you think you might have ended up in rent arrears as a result of this, please contact the Centre and we will help to sort the problem out for you.,24417,7UN0E3,7MOB7,1

Thousands in court as benefit cuts hit home

Excellent article in the Guardian which highlights the huge numbers of cases going to court as a direct result of the cuts to benefit.

Worth noting that even where small victories have been won, such as the example of somebody supported by Unite winning an appeal against the bedroom tax, the sheer scale of the cuts mean that more and more people are likely to end up in court as a result of debts directly caused by cuts to benefits.