Posted on June 8th, 2012
Many people enjoyed the Jubilee with time off work and celebrations, including corporate functions and a televised banquet to mark the royal occasion. However, not all people experienced the celebrations in the same manner as those involved in the events. The treatment of some volunteers involved in the London celebrations from Bath and Bristol was described by Liberal and Labour MPs as ‘unacceptable’ and ‘shabby’. The volunteers were provided as part of the government’s back to work programme with the government playing down their situation as a ‘one off’ incident.
The former deputy Prime Minister John Prescott accused the government of “exploiting cheap labour” after some of the jobseekers said they were forced to sleep under London Bridge, had to change into security gear in public and could not access a toilet for 24 hours. After a 14-hour shift in the rain on Sunday they said they were taken to a ‘swamp- like’ campsite outside London. The company Close Protection UK who were responsible for the volunteers during the event stated that the circumstances were exaggerated.
The volunteers were provided by Tomorrow’s People, a charity paid by the government under the work programme designed to help unemployed people back into work. Tomorrow’s People said the way the group had been treated was “totally unacceptable”. Labour MP Ms Kerry McCarthy said she had spoken to a young woman from Bristol who had been told she would be paid £450 and get the chance of well-paid stewarding at the Olympics. The MP said: “She ended up calling home in tears and being rescued by a relative, after 36 hours without sleep, soaking wet and without being paid a penny for it”.
Ms McCarthy demanded a full investigation, including an explanation as to why jobseekers were driven all the way from Bristol to London, rather than local workers being used.
We support unemployed people, particularly young people or parents being given the opportunity to participate in back to work programmes. We included issues related to employment during our parenting assessments as a way of increasing parents’ resilience, self-esteem and financial resources. However, reported claims of mistreatment of volunteers at such a major event can casts doubts over the treatment of volunteers seeking a way into the employment market. The quality of the experience will mark the way people; particularly young adults view unpaid back to work schemes. Whether it is a one off incident, these people will be affected by the alleged situation that they found themselves in and not want to be involved. This then could be a potential opportunity missed by parents trying to increase their capacity parent and be included in society. A good experience for a volunteer could possibly be a positive outcome for a child, as an engaging parent’s confidence could be raised.
At Avocet we try to engage parents in proactive parenting assessments that focus on practical issues such as budgeting, housing and meeting the needs of children through providing for them financially and demonstrating positive role modelling by contributing to society.
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