Union Contact Training

UC Induction Day - Neil Thompson 2019-07-27

All SWU Union Contacts are given initial and ongoing training and support. We value our members and encourage you to partake in training and development.

SWU is affiliated to the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU) which provides an excellent range of free training courses for SWU members and Union Contacts.

Union Contact Induction Days

Union Contact Induction Days are a great way for SWU members to learn more about the Union Contact role, meet the SWU team and, importantly, meet each other. SWU members are invited to attend the next upcoming Group Induction Day on Saturday 10th September in Central Birmingham.

We also provide an Online Induction consisting of a short series of training videos which can be worked through in your own time.

SWU delivers several hugely popular Union Contact Induction Days throughout the year which enable members to be the voice of SWU in their workplaces and universities. Induction Days are day-long informal gatherings of around fifteen people and include presentations, activities and information relating to trade union recruitment, campaigning and activism. Lunch and refreshments are provided, as is travel and accommodation if required. 

The face-to-face Induction Days usually take place in Manchester 3 times per year. We were not been able to offer face-to-face inductions in 2020-2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions, but we currently offer an online version to complete in your own time.

Prior union knowledge and experience is great but not essential – more important is a keenness to get active and involved in your Union. Click here for further information about becoming a SWU Union Contact.

Induction Days

Induction Days – 2022

Induction Days – 2019

  • Saturday 2nd March, Premier Inn, Piccadilly, Manchester
  • Saturday 27th July, The Castlefield Hotel, Manchester
  • Saturday 23rd November, The Mechanics Institute, Manchester

Induction Days – 2018

  • Saturday 28th April, Friends Meeting House, Liverpool
  • Saturday 28th July, Inspire The Studio, Birmingham
  • Saturday 3rd November, The Castlefield Hotel, Manchester

Advice for Union Contacts from our National Organiser


Think about the following when focusing upon recruitment of new members in your workplace. It may seem obvious but it’s crucial to successful recruitment:

  • Communication is key – Talk to colleagues, social work students, and people on placement. Why is it important to be part of a trade union collective? Contribute your thoughts and ideas to colleagues, and in the “Union Contact Corner” of the monthly SWU Newsletter.
  • Incorporate discussions into social events and informal gatherings.
  • Make yourself known and be accessible – have flyers with your name and contact details.
  • Provide colleagues with relevant SWU leaflets and make use of noticeboards and staffrooms where things are more likely to be seen.
  • Promote the “specialist” aspect of the Union – SWU staff are all qualified and registered Social Workers with insight and knowledge of social work issues – and there’s the additional benefit of being a member of the British Association of Social Workers (BASW), the professional association.


When thinking about potential campaigns it’s important to discuss and gather information. Never assume that colleagues will be as passionate about an issue as you are. You can play a part in enlightening them and imparting knowledge, but two-way communication is important in order to discover their concerns.

  • Conversations – What issues are important and relevant to colleagues?
  • You might discover that issues of concern are very specific to your workplace – parking / lack of admin support / unpaid overtime.
  • It’s often smaller frustrating issues that colleagues are more passionate about and are more likely to support in campaigning for or against.
  • Always feedback to SWU. It’s important to campaign collectively and to make us aware of the issues that concern our members.


As a Trade Union we care about the work/life balance and wellbeing of our members and our Union Contacts who are volunteering their time to do this important role.  We realise that family commitments mean you can’t always attend demonstrations and rallies, but Activism takes many forms and recruitment of colleagues in work is just as important as attending events. However, for those of us who do enjoy the rapture of a large collective rally (myself included) here are a few tips:

  • Be loud, be visible!
  • Attend events, demonstrations, and rallies collectively rather than individually. Get your colleagues, families, and kids involved.
  • Check our events calendar and keep yourselves and members updated.
  • Be uniform – SWU have matching flags, banners, tee-shirts etc. This looks good and gets us recognised. As a Union Contact you’ll be provided with merchandise to distribute to colleagues or fellow students.
  • Find what’s right for you – If you can’t attend demos and rallies focus on workplace newsletters and mini recruitment drives. You’ll be provided with freebies and flyers to help you with this – because this is a part of Activism.
  • Be conscious of broader political issues and the impact of austerity (as social workers we already have an advantage!) Knowledge is Power!!
  • Encourage activism amongst colleagues and each other – standing together and supporting each other will help grow and strengthen Our Union.