Union says thanks to NEAS unsung heroes

As the nation clapped for carers and rightly supported our wonderful NHS, Team NEAS – our own 800-strong workforce - never stopped through lockdown either. 

Whether providing lifeline services by telephone, keeping our frontline education and care services running, working administratively from home, ploughing away behind the scenes or looking after the many children, young people and adults entrusted into our care, it’s been a hectic, challenging and heroic time for all those working for the Society.

So it was a welcome surprise to hear from Unison, the union supporting many of our employees, that they wanted to give ALL our employees a small gift as a gesture of thanks.

Diane Peacock, Unison Sunderland Branch Secretary, said: 

“When the country went into lockdown, it was a frightening time. Many people were working from home, but many UNISON members still had to carry on working on the front line. We wanted to do something for them to let them know how appreciated they are.

“We created packed lunches with some crisps, a pot noodle, a chocolate bar and a letter of appreciation and some UNISON-branded gifts.  The idea was for people working in the pandemic to be able to sit down with their lunch, and know there are people thinking about them and appreciate their work.”

The letter in the pack spoke enthusiastically of the NEAS  “unsung heroes” as well as a message from the union.

“At the start of this pandemic, the government and media concentrated on the NHS. But our members are keyworkers too! They too were risking their lives to make others better,” Diane added. 

“NEAS employees have never stopped being on the front line and we wanted to recognise them as our heroes. We’re looking after the people who are looking after the people.”

Goodies dropped off at our services by Unison were delivered to the doorsteps of our sites by staff.

North East Autism Society chief executive John Phillipson said: “We have been through some difficult times in recent months, none more so than during the months of April and May when we lost two treasured colleagues and so many people were ill, affected by the virus. 

“During the worst of times you appreciate those who stand with you and offer support. Unison has been outstanding in being supportive and constructive in drawing our attention to things we needed to respond to. Although difficult, we have been able to keep our services open, and we’re still going! That’s in no small part because of help we’ve had from our friends. 

“I would particularly like to thank Unison for all of their help and support. This token of appreciation has been well received, with gratitude, by everyone here.”