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In these turbulent times…

Published: 22nd May, 2020

A letter to all Leicester UCU members from branch chair Sarah Seaton.

During these turbulent times I am mindful that lots of union work occurs behind the scenes, and we are not always able to keep you all constantly updated. I am sorry for that, we do our best. However, I want to assure you that we are working tirelessly to protect and promote your interests. Work within Leicester UCU has increased hugely, and in the next few weeks we’ll be contributing to discussions about the future of our disputes; working with the university to develop a plan to get the university safely out of lockdown and thinking of ways to make the future of higher education sustainable. We will update you, as and when we can (keep an eye out for our info about our next general meeting), but for now know that every member of Leicester UCU is constantly in my thoughts and the committee is working incredibly hard.

Lockdown has, throughout society, exposed further the very issues that Leicester UCU has been fighting to eradicate: inequality and precarity to name just two. We have seen higher rates of mortality amongst BAME workers in the healthcare service. We have seen women submit fewer articles to journals in recent weeks due to many reasons including caring responsibility for some. We have seen people across the country become reliant on benefits who have never needed to seek government help before in their lives. All these problems and more highlight the very issues at the heart of our society today.

Alongside all this, lockdown has also highlighted some of the best aspects of our society. Neighbours are helping each other more than ever – my own neighbour delivered some flour to my doorstep last week – who would have thought such a simple act would bring me such joy! I am delighted when I see colleagues’ children join video meetings – giving me a glimpse into a life, and loves in their lives, that I’ve heard lots about over the years, but never seen first hand. Alongside this, I am aware that faith and community are incredibly important to people, and current events have only enhanced that need. I send love to my Jewish friends who next week will be celebrating the festival of Shavuot and all who are celebrating other festivities, particularly during this difficult time.

These are hard times, and at times they will feel impossible. It is currently mental health awareness week, and let me make it clear that right now, more than ever, its is OK to not feel OK. I have really struggled at times recently, and there have been evenings spent in tears. I am not ashamed to admit that. I am lucky to have supportive friends, many of them in Leicester UCU, and my family who I am excited to physically see more as and when it becomes safe to do so. I hope you all have access to whatever support you need. We can all only do our best right now. I conclude by sending love from my family to yours, stay safe and stay well.

In solidarity,
Chair, Leicester UCU