NUJ ADM Stephen Brookes Conversation


IMG_8191-200x300As a manic depressive, I was keen to bend the ear of Stephen Brookes, chair of the Disabled Members Council at the NUJ, to find out what he thinks the union needs to do for members like me.

Stephen is also member of the TUC disability campaign and works closely with the Crown Prosecution Service, specifically dealing with learning disabilities and the mentally unwell in relation to prosecution and witnessing.

Like me, Stephen deplores the world vulnerable as a term to describe myself or people like me. He too is a manic depressive. I find the term derogatory, demeaning and patronising – a sentiment echoed by Stephen and the disability council members.

“It is a nightmare which is still ongoing and that the union needs to grasp… real equality is accepting that we all have difficulties and differences.”

Problems with reasonable adjustment

As far as the council is concerned, allowing reasonable adjustment, for any employee with any disability, can lead to victimisation, bullying and harassment of the worst kind.

This must be stamped out. Reasonable adjustments are allowed because they are needed. The added stress of any subsequent harassment or inferior treatment by colleagues, only adds to the frustration felt by me and I am sure many others.

The NUJ has the lowest disability declaration rate of any union. However, it is well documented that journalists suffer more than many other professions from stress-related illnesses. Is it a reflection of attitudes in the industry? I personally believe so and I am personally looking forward to getting involved with the DMC.

A challenge

So then, here is a challenge from Stephen himself. For all you NUJ members out there keeping mental illness a secret: whether a student, employed or freelance: “Stick your heads above the parapets and get involved.”

This entry was written by Vicki-Jane Appleton, posted on 21/11/2009 at 5:32 pm, filed under people and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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