‘I may have retired from work, it doesn’t mean I’ve retired from life’

We speak to Karen Clark about the contribution UNISON’s retired members make to the union

When Karen Clark retired in 2016 she may have thought it was time to put her feet up and relax, but a couple of years later she found herself volunteering to be the secretary of UNISON’s retired members committee.

Perhaps it’s not surprising – before she retired at 61, Karen (pictured middle row, third from right in black top) was seconded full time to UNISON work at Bedfordshire Police HQ, where she’d been vice-chair and assistant secretary of the branch.

“I may have retired from work, it doesn’t mean I’ve retired from life,” she tells UNISON Eastern. “My interests in trade unionism didn’t stop the day I retired.”

She’s keen to point out that ‘retired’ doesn’t mean ‘elderly.’

“I’ve built up a wealth of skills and experience over the years and I intend to put them to good use. Retired members could help take the pressure off busy branches.”

Karen still attends all her branch meetings and makes sure to keep in touch with everybody.

That’s been harder during the pandemic, and the regional retired members group’s quarterly meetings have had to be put on hold since the AGM at the beginning of the year when Karen was re-elected secretary for a second time.

But UNISON’s national retired members section is still keeping active.

This Wednesday it’s organising a seminar in place of conference on UNISON’s Care After Covid campaign.

Register here

It will look at the impact of the pandemic on the care sector, why we need a new system for social care and the actions that need to be taken to win a national care service. All retired members are welcome.

So, what’s Karen’s message to retirees?

“Come along and join us – your skills would be greatly appreciated and greatly aid not just retired members but all UNISON members in the East of England. Once the meetings restart you can come along as an observer.

“You retire from work but not life or the union.

“You’ll never be a young member again but you can keep contributing as a retired member.”

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