Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Research File: Part 2 - Jobsites for the Disadvantaged

Huge apology: to all those who have been waiting for this list and most of all to the followers who I just haven’t got the time and energy left to list. By 'followers' I mean those I have followed on Twitter regardless of whether or not they have reciprocated. That to me is irrelevant so long as everyone is helping the most disadvantaged in as many legal, ethical, caring, compassionate, efficient and above all, safe ways as possible. 

A warning about campaigning for rights

I have been doing my best to fight for the rights of the most vulnerable for a long time now – let my recent health problems serve as a warning to all. Never attempt to fight for rights on your own even when you have powerful connections. Those connections will never come out in the open when the world is this hostile if it jeopardises in any way whatsoever their own sterling efforts elsewhere which are usually far better established and therefore already recognised. Better to never ask them than risk losing their efforts too.

As before, I take no responsibility for how good or bad these services are; much depends on how receptive people are to accepting help and how good individual members of staff are. When it comes to staff though, it is ENTIRELY the employers responsibility to train employees properly and support not only their learning but, to do all they can to avert stress to ensure they can continue to be brilliant staff. Pressure, in my honest opinion, is a good thing as from it we exceed our own expectations and perceived limitations. Stress is very bad as it is a sign of overloading and target driven peformance and is therefore often not a good idea when it comes to the well being and welfare of others. Health before wealth is never more important than when it comes to empowering the disadvantaged.

When it comes to the disadvantaged though it gets rather complicated to legislate and be fair precisely because everyone is different and therefore everyone has very particular, individual and bespoke needs. Smaller organisations (staff wise), in my experience tend to fair better on delivery for this reason as the more personal the service is, the more bespoke it becomes and the higher the rate of success. It explains why smaller care facilities housing smaller groups of people have steadily emerged and grown in popularity. When it comes the housing the most in need that's perfect, but as to other services...

As stated in a tweet, not everyone who is disadvantaged wants to use the support services on offer simply because they do not ever wish to be seen as victims or as being in anyway vulnerable. Name me someone who isn’t vulnerable, disabled or not? This is why Part 1 of these Jobsite lists was for everyone. 'Disabled' is a word I detest with a purple passion when it comes to people – far better it was only used for inanimate things. I loathe it being used for people as it instantly puts others in the wrong frame of mind with regard to viewing their fellow humans simply for being different from ourselves. The word implies limits. Again, name me someone who hasn’t got them! 

Being flat footed I doubt I would ever have made a world class footballer, although that is more to do with my lack of interest than what is possible as last year’s Paralympics more than amply demonstrated. This time last year most of us able-bodied Brits were wondering whether it would even be worth watching and were quite prepared to laugh at what we saw as well as cringe. Have we changed as a result of what we saw? I did... I thought I had respect for the 'disabled' before... now I am just blown away by them. What to me remains sad about the Paralympics is that while great strides (pardon the pun), have been made to aid paraplegics, the blind, the deaf etc a huge barriers to accessing these wonderful resources persist and that barrier is extremely complex; doubly so if we think of it in psychological terms as well. 

Top of the list of impediments to progress is finance of course. We are living in dark times financially and in a world where people are still commonly perceived to be unable to contribute through work due to health reasons, people don’t want to spend the time and money to empower them to be able to. Am I wrong? Bizarre when one thinks that if no one had we would not have the likes of Stephen Hawkings or the benefit of his brain power to unlock many a scientific mystery and it is after all science we rely on most to help solve health problems of all kinds, right? Therefore it is illogical and unethical in the extreme not to help all the disadvantaged find their of communicating and contributing to our world, which includes the homeless, the mentally ill and many others that you never noticed at the Paralympics. How many great talents have we missed due to such ‘retarded’ thinking throughout all history so far? How many are we missing right now that could sort out the economic crisis in a minute or global warming or... who knows? We DO NOT know unless WE try harder to help them share what they know. 

I am disgusted that despite my own best efforts this list is so woefully short. Quite frankly it shouldn’t be. Therein lies the real crux of the problem – prejudice, fear of the unknown and stigma of all kinds has to stop as it costs nations so much money to maintain for it only ever serves to escalate and self-perpetuate problems. Remember that this is all for the lack of wit for the investment required.

Do we prefer negative equity situation and bottomless financial pit OR do we prefer a positive profit situation where everyone can contribute in some way for the good of the economy and of its nation’s health. IF we can get it right then that really would be a win/win situation as people 
want to feel valued and want to feel needed regardless of how many limbs they have, learning difficulties, mentally illness, blindness, deafness, homelessness, addiction problem or being mute etc. THIS IS A UNIVERSAL FACT - so please world... let’s help all can we and stop wasting any more time over it.

Oh... I went of topic again... I can't think why. Maybe it's because I am not convinced that enough people are smart enough yet to recognised the wisdom of supporting the most in need. Back to why people choose different methods and routes of support, (as it if shouldn't already be obvious)! 

Some disadvantaged people prefer dedicated employment services tailored to their disadvantages to empower them, hence this list. Phew


By far the best general source of information I found was BASE; hence it’s top of the list, whether it’s had time to update since I last looked, I simply don’t know. As before all links were working when I found them... heaven knows if they are now though. Regional services often have counterparts in other areas thanks to recent government initiatives and most work collaboratively. Be patient while you take your turn in the long queue and while they assess YOUR needs. Miracles don’t tend to happen instantaneously for the disadvantaged of any ilk. Regrettably, they are all to accustomed to having to wait their turn in such queues.

BASE British Association for Supported Employment

Extremely useful sources of help

Action for Blind People
Central London Connexions (young people)
Clacks Supported Employment Services (Scotland)
Crisis (for homeless people)
Ellingham (for learning disabilities)
Enterprise Lab
IAS Imagine, Act & Succeed (Learning Disabilities)
Into Work (Scotland)
Keysteps (mental health or learning disabilities)
Leonard Cheshire Disability
National Autism Society
Princes Trust (which also helps with people over 50 wanting to start a business)
Pure Innovations Ltd
Queen Elizabeth's Foundation
RBLI (Armed Forces)
Remploy (for disabled people)
Richmond Fellowship
Royal Association for Deaf People
Scope (for disabled people)
Stepping Stones
The Shaw Trust
Turning Point
United Response
Youth Employment Network

Other Employment Adviser Services

Ah yes, other employment adviser services... what a can of worms. While on benefits I have test driven a couple of these and while they can and often are very good for some, again the attitude of one fix cures all is er... less than helpful not to mention archiac. Aside from the National Skills Council, whose website leaves a lot to be desired when I last looked at it but otherwise they were superb, I applied to most of the following companies for a job as an employment adviser. I was rejected by all of them and not even short-listed for interview by any despite being supported with the applications! The feedback when they bothered to give me any was interesting...

“We don’t employ from our service users, past or present” and “we didn’t feel you had any relevant qualifications or experience.” and “You don’t have any recruitment qualifications.”

The latter is quite right, I don’t. What I have is real life experience of hiring, firing and disciplinary procedures as a manager who employed people. Evidently that is totally irrelevant to the real world of employment despite having done so as nearly my very first job. This is not to say qualifications are unnecessary (I myself have teaching, BSL and counselling qualifications to name a few - again no possible use to the unemployed needing help and to learn new skills), 
but... qualifications are not always necessary as I have found when I have employed people. Attitude and aptitude for me have always been far more important as an employer especially if you have to unpick bad habits from bad training. Silly me for even bothering to try to be an employment advisor – I mean it’s not as if I could come up with a more comprehensive list than any of those I test drove have to date is it? 

What is even more worrying is that by rejecting candidates from their service users none of them can claim to offer a particularly good service and yet most of them are paid £14,000 per service user from the government for providing it last time I checked. They are not even trying to endorse their own services and often do not even follow their own advice with regard to providing feedback. These are facts and the thing about facts is that you can never argue with them. I sincerely hope this blog will go some way to instigate much needed reforms as I don’t know about anyone else, but I am rather weary of con-merchants giving good companies a bad name. As ever I won’t name and shame individual companies as it’s up to them to figure out solutions for their faults and as mentioned not all of them are con-merchants - they might have changed or are changing their ways already. Try them, complain if need be and move on to try another is all I can suggest.

When unemployed, you haven’t the time to campaign – except to add your name to petitions that already exist. Only when employed, do people bother to rate you as worthy of holding an opinion... even if you’ve been a highly successful CEO but for health or other reasons... tough you won't be heard if you're not working. So... good luck. DO hop on a search engine for more ‘employment adviser services’ to find more links.

Top of the list this time is a government funded operation, because they do try extremely hard to help... despite appearances and many an error. No one can correct errors if they are not logically, lucidly and calmly reported. Yes, I know I am struggling with that again... I wonder why!

National Skills Service

A4e Scotland
A4e Wales
Bedford Training Group
Career recruit
EAS Employment Advisory Specialists
Fusion People
Ingeus UK Ltd
Kennedy Scott
Learning Links
Morgan Hunt
NASES (support for students)
Spirit Resourcing
Spring Personnel
Student Employment Services
Workplace Options


Things are changing rapidly so new companies and organisations are emerging all the time among charities, social enterprises, (including CICs) and among social firms which specialise in helping every kind of disadvantaged person gain paid employment or voluntary work of some kind. There are so many of them popping up now that it is nigh on impossible to keep track of them... unless the government can help by providing us with a directory of all of them at some point. (Good luck to the admin team on that one as that’s no easy or quick undertaking!)


As ALL unemployed people are highly intelligent I am sure that by some means or another they will be able to find all the NEW services that are emerging that I have spotted and started to follow on twitter. Twitter is a font of knowledge, some pleasing some alarming. Be selective in what you seek as it is the best source I know of for spotting new initiatives to continuously to those I follow almost daily. As before, this Jobsite list is only a starting point. I’ve worked with the disadvantaged one way or another most of my life now – there’s not one of them that cannot achieve what THEY WANT given the time and support.

Much depends on where they are on their journey as to the level of support they require as well as what exactly it is that they choose to explore or do with their lives. Same for everyone isn’t it? Well, no actually it isn’t because while all the principles and laws are there to help... access and people’s ability to function remains largely restrictive for the most vulnerable people of all. A few people make it but way too many slip through all the safety nets there are to prevent it happening. To fight for your rights from that position is arguably the MOST stressful thing anyone could ever think of trying. 

Well done to those how have done so thus far. Some have died in their attempts already. Would that we had seen the back of all that by now, but at least we are overall, heading in the right direction at last. Delays for me are always caused by dealing with numpties and the unenlightened. I have a new policy for dealing with them... I have resolved to not give them my time anymore... seems fair when they studiously avoid giving me theirs. If they don’t like it, well... they shouldn’t dish it out! Simple as. That's how I was brought up to deal with bullies.

I can forgive mistakes when people own up to making them, but otherwise... forget it if they are that determined to repeat them ad infinitum to the detriment and suffering of others which in many cases is wholly avoidable.

I hope my meagre efforts trigger greater ones from you!

PS: Perhaps now I can get back to MY chosen creative endeavours to help people in the first instance find their voice. Updates later, after I and my family have dealt with my medical results. Hence, why I am supremely disinterested in debts, creditors, or profit and loss figures just now. Sorry and all that but deal with it... I don't have the choice.

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