News Archive

Stress & Violence at work

Posted on Tuesday, October 30, 2001

CYWU London Region has recently carried out a survey in nearly all London boroughs and neighbouring home county local authorities. Our survey has clearly identified stress and violence as our members biggest concern, especially around the busy summer holiday period. It is now the most commonly reported problem at work for youth, community, play workers and mentors.

Our survey indicated that the nature of the work of our members is stressful enough without having the added pressure of extra paper work, unsympathetic management, bullying, threats of violence, short-term contracts and restructures that invite little or no consultation. Many things can cause stress, but a lot of which stems from the way your job is organised.

Management often expects more and more from our members, and impossible workloads are the norm for practitioners. Our survey has also shown that this is one of the main causes professional workers are looking for alternative employment.

CYWU is committed to challenging stress and violence at work, which should be viewed and confronted the same as any other major health & safety concern. Employers have an obligation of ensuring that you are working in a healthy and safe environment. Don’t fall for the old line that ‘some stress is good for you’. Stress is different from Pressure, stress happens when there is too much pressure.

CYWU members should monitor their own workloads and patterns and look out for colleagues who may be suffering to such an extent that they do not realise their health is deteriorating.

Think and list the things that cause you stress at work

Speak to your CYWU branch officers or full-time official.

Agree together as a union branch or with your full-time official the best possible solutions and whom else you can involve to achieve them.

Use your collective strength to raise this as a problem.

Violence in the workplace is also on the increase in many London/South-East areas. Employees/volunteers who deal with the public are at much greater risk than anyone else. Working with disaffected or volatile adolescence young people probably increases this fourfold. However, like bullying or stress, violence should never be seen as ‘part of the job’. Violence doesn’t just cover physical attacks – it also includes verbal abuse as well.

CYWU members should

Find out if their employer has got an adequate procedure in place for dealing with violence.

Highlight to management CYWU’s excellent ‘Learning is for everyone’ training brochure.

Record every incident that happens to you.

Educate management, that the union is not part of the problem, it is part of the solution and our training and expertise should be viewed as an asset to any employer.

Seek support from CYWU branch officers (especially health and safety appointed) and full-time officials

Get three useful publications:

Health and Safety in Youth and Community Work. Russell House publishing, Pocket Guide and Manual.

Employment Policies and Practice in Youth and Community Work. Russell House Publishing. Contains agreement on stress management.

Violence and Aggression in Youth and Community Work. Pepar Publications.

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