Mentors are our Future
Posted on Tuesday, January 14, 2003
As some of you might know I have been involved in the union for over nineteen months and have helped raise the profile and membership in new key areas in the field of informal education. I have been proud to work and build the profile of the CYWU within Newham and helped to gain recognition and broker agreements between the other trade unions at the Newham Joint-Trade Union Committee.
I pleased to report that CYWU has used its link with the NUT to assist in recruiting learning mentors and CYWU now represent the vast majority of mentors in East London. However, I would like to use this opportunity to remind members of out union that it is not only policy to organise mentors but essential if we, as a union continue to grow and develop.
Learning mentors clearly represent the biggest possible growth sector for our union and we welcome the structural changes to CYWU that now means that mentors represent our sector with seats on the NEC. However, I am concerned that members in what can only be described as ‘traditional’ predominate youth work branches are still not been co-operating in recruitment in the way that we may expect.
I understand that our full time officer Terry Brandon continues to meet mentors from across the country but this good work needs to be reinforced by all of our members. Youth & Community Workers, Play Workers, Personal Advisors and Mentors all have a common interest. We all want national collective pay bargaining linked to a qualification, which is meaningful but also transferable between local authorities and similar professions. I believe only a high profile campaign can secure this.
Mentors currently suffer disparity in pay and conditions and because we are not seen as professionals in the same way as youth workers or teachers we are open to gross misunderstandings by heads of schools. This is totally unacceptable and we cannot allow this to continue.
Mentors cannot rely on the DfES to bring us changes, we need to be part of a union and work together to bring ourselves the professional status our role deserves. I would like to purpose that the NEC of CYWU prioritise our campaign to bring mentoring into the JNC framework, but first we must win the argument with our ‘traditional’ youth work branches. We share similar skills and the same desire to make positive changes in young peoples lives, can we not share a similar pay scale that both professions can benefit from.
All London mentors need to attend the CYWU conference on Tuesday 4th February so we have the opportunity to network and work with our union to plan a strategy to give our profession the recognition that it deserves.