Introducing UNISON East Lothian’s new LGBT Officer

My name is Russell Patel-Barnes and I am employed with East Lothian Council in the Adult Social Work Team based at Macmerry in East Lothian. I began my social care career working with people with learning and physical disabilities in Sheffield. Personal reasons informed my decision to move to Edinburgh in 1993. I initially worked with homeless people for a short time and then went on to work with older people in the community.

I needed to advance my social care career so undertook a period of further education and completed the SVQ Social Care course at Jewel and Esk Valley College. This led me to train as a social worker with Edinburgh University and I qualified as a social worker in 2000.

In 2000 I started work with East Lothian Council as a main grade social worker. Seventeen years later I am now a Senior (Social Work) Practitioner, Mental Health Officer (MHO) and Practice Teacher who supervises main grade Social Workers and Community Care Workers. I completed the Post Graduate Certificate in Adult Support and Protection from The University of St Andrews in September 2015.

At present I am the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender representative for UNISON East Lothian. I have been passionate about LGBT rights for many years and participated in many rallies against discriminatory policies and legislation like Section 28 and championed campaigns for Civil Partnership and Marriage Equality legislation.


Did you know that Unison Scotland has a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender group that has its own committee?

Do you identify as being LGBT?

UNISON fights discrimination and prejudice in the workplace on behalf of its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) members. We work together in local and national groups of LGBT members to campaign and provide support for our members.

UNISON’s LGBT group takes UNISON’s priorities into the LGBT community.

They are to:
• recruit LGBT workers into the union;
• encourage LGBT members to get involved;
• build our network of LGBT groups;
• support individual members;
• identify and challenge discrimination, informing the union’s negotiations with employers;
• defend and promote LGBT public services;
• campaign for equality.

To discuss any issues regarding LGBT Members or for further information, Russell can be contacted on:

01875 824050 or at