RCM branch voice: The rebirth of RCM Lothian
Alison Reid shares the story of relaunching their local branch for the benefit of members.
In summer 2016, a few RCM members were approached by local reps with a vision of reinvigorating Lothian’s RCM branch. It led to a few unofficial chats and meet-ups with activists then, with the support and guidance of our organiser, we had our inaugural meeting of RCM Lothian in October 2016. We all felt really positive about having a local branch again, particularly as it is a crucial time for midwives to have a strong voice in the face of a changing model of care in Scotland. Midwives have concerns about how Scotland’s Best start initiative will affect their working and family lives.
We started small but managed to get more members involved by having regular meetings, rotating the venues across both Lothian sites and by varying the times of meetings to allow for differing shift patterns of members. In recognition of the fact that it is very difficult to get a lot of maternity workers in the same place at any one time, we created a social media forum where we post news, advertise events and discuss all things RCM related. We also promoted the branch in a trolley dash around the site. We hosted a Caring for You tea party and balloted members on their views of the campaign, as well as letting them know that the branch was up, running and working for them.
Using the results of our Caring for You questionnaire, we formulated an action plan to address members’ main concerns. We have voted in three new workplace reps who have now completed their training and are starting to represent members.
The branch has been active in other ways too. We helped to fund and support a recent event on FGM, we plan to fund free member places at upcoming local study opportunities and national RCM events. And we have affiliated with the local student midwifery society and hope to support them in their endeavours to involve student midwives with the RCM.
Although we have achieved a lot in our first year, we have also had some real challenges. This includes time constraints and the logistical difficulties of having branch officers and committee members working different shift patterns. Likewise, it has been a challenge to engage a wider audience of members who are juggling work and family lives. There has been a lot of inspiring enthusiasm at meetings, which sometimes leaves us feeling overwhelmed when we have so little time. We have had to be kind to ourselves and accept that things can take a while to get off the ground and that this is okay.
In the meantime, we have met lots of wonderful, committed midwives and students who have a vision for midwifery that can be enabled and supported by RCM membership.
you can download information, guidance and templates to support your local RCM branch at bit.ly/RCM_branch_resources and do get in touch with your RCM organiser or national/regional officer for any support that you need.
Alison Reid is a midwife and chair of the RCM Lothian branch