PCS members saddened by death of popular ULR

PCS staff at Salford Revenue Branch are in mourning following the deeply sad news of the passing of colleague and PCS representative Karen Kelly.

Karen Kelly (centre) with colleagues

Karen died suddenly at home and the branch has extended their deepest condolences to all who knew her saying she will be remembered as a wonderful, cheery friend to many in Trinity Bridge House.

Karen first became active in the branch as a Union learning Rep (ULR). She attended one of the union’s Learning Drop-ins enquiring about courses in the area and left the event as a ULR.  Karen threw herself into the role of ULR with passion and enthusiasm, a trait she would continue to show in all her PCS roles.

As a ULR Karen organised many courses and brought many learning opportunities to PCS members. She lead on the Pre-retirement courses which proved immensely popular and helped many staff navigate their way towards retirement with an understanding of the process. Karen also pushed for existing Personal Case Reps to undergo further retraining and arranged for Manchester College to provide this in the branch.

Karen was a passionate Mental Health First Aider which aligned with her compassionate nature. She was a founding member of the Mental Health First Aid Volunteers in the branch - undertaking her training with unionlearn.

Honing the experience gained as a ULR Karen went on to become a Health and Safety Rep and during the last round of elections Karen became a member of the North West Regional H&S Committee and brought all her enthusiasm and commitment to that role.  Lately being involved in negotiations around the Coronavirus and the H&S implications for our members.

Karen was also elected to the post of Branch Equalities Officer at the branches recent Annual General Meeting and was again very enthusiastic in taking this on.

Karen was a good communicator and led on Branch inductions with new staff, she sat on the Branch Executive Committee as Branch Trade Union Side committee rep and contributed to meetings with Personal Tax Operations senior management. Karen was also a valued part of the branch organising committee. When campaigning work was required Karen was always the first to volunteer to stand outside in all weathers to hand out leaflets and talk with staff.

Ann Ainsworth North West Regional Learning Organiser said:

For me Karen was one of those people who really embodied the qualities of what makes a great union learning rep.  She was enthusiastic and full of joy.  She made you engage with learning activity because her own enthusiasm for learning was infectious. She was compassionate and she cared about people being able to develop the skills and knowledge that they needed for whatever they wanted to undertake in life.”

She didn’t want to see anybody held back because they didn’t have the chance to know.  You could also rely on Karen to be honest with you.  It is so valuable to have people tell you what they think.  If she didn’t think something would work she would tell you and she would tell you what you needed to change.”

In the North West we now have available magnifying bookmarks for reps to use with learners so that anyone with visual impairments can now have improved access to the materials used and participate with everyone else.  This was inspired by Karen raising the issue and I will always think of it as the ‘Karen Kelly bookmark’.  When I think of Karen I will always think of someone who embodied the spirit of learning.”

Mary Doolin, PCS North West Regional Equality Advocate added that:

Karen was a member of our North West Regional Disabled Member’s network. She was passionate about equality-wanting fairness, dignity and respect for all. Karen was a ray of sunshine who brought joy and happiness into people’s lives.”