A Silent Auction with some simply phenomenal items has been arranged and anyone can participate
A Silent Auction with some simply phenomenal items has been arranged and anyone can participate
I very rarely rant but last week I was exasperated by an example where Work Programme contractors are now providing funds to local authorities to start job clubs! Marvellous so the state gives a contractor tax payer money who then uses it to pay the state to do the job themselves? I was also given the distinct impression by one local Government Officer that volunteer run Job Clubs are not welcome and that Job or ‘Work’ Clubs as they insist on calling them should by run by qualified paid ‘professionals’. Now don’t get me wrong there are some superb Council run Job Clubs like Towcester and Daventry but there is space and huge demand for the smaller clubs run by local community groups and Churches. Anything state funded needs to analyse the ins and outs of a gnat’s gizzards in order to justify its cost so job seekers will need to be prepared to answer lots of questions, fill in forms and fulfil various obligations, you see where I am going? Yes, outcomes etc!
The eye watering amount of money being given to one Council to set up a handful of Job/Work Clubs would fund our small charity for two years and allow us to help set up hundreds of volunteer led Job Clubs! Whatever happened to Big Society not Big State?
There is no one size fits all model for a Job Club nor should there be but I now know that some of the most successful clubs are the small ones, often laissez faire in their approach, they don’t ask/demand anything of their members, they aren’t driven by outcomes or stats they simply focus on helping one another. It is absolutely true that this ‘mutual nurturing’ is effective and it is down to one main thing – EMPOWERMENT. One simple example is where Job Club member ‘S’ an IT professional helped ‘T’ unemployed and in his 40’s learn to use a computer, ‘T’ was then able to search online, apply for and land a job with a local engineering firm. ‘S’ felt valued his self esteem lifted, ‘T’ was now digitally literate, had increased confidence as a result and found a job.
No form filling, no compulsory courses to attend just a simple exchange of skills and mutual support in the community by members of the community. The cost to facilitate this process: a bit fat £’O’ because the Church let us use the hall free of charge and I am the voluntary organiser of the Job Club in question. I have kept a running tally of how many people have found work so I do know the ‘outcomes’ but as I do not receive any funding I have no need to report to anyone or submit to any performance criteria, rules or regulations imposed from above.
I am on the Radio 5 Live ‘We’re All in This Together’ programme tomorrow morning at 9.30am with Minister for Employment Chris Grayling MP and will be championing the hundreds of volunteers running Job Clubs all over the UK. You are all heros and your amazing work should be valued and supported. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b011049r
Follow on Twitter @GBJobClubs
Since we began our informal network in August 2009 we have worked together as a group of volunteer Job Club leaders to help others to set up and run inclusive, free to attend Job/Work Clubs in communities the length and breadth of the UK. We have shared best practice and resources, we have encouraged one another and are delighted to have made many new friends along the way, in fact over a hundred! Our Job Clubs are friendly places where jobseekers support one another and find expert help without any demands being made on them to perform. We frequently find that members need time and space to rebuild their self esteem after experiencing the dehumanising effects of unemployment.
There is only so much you can do as volunteers and for some time we have needed funding to improve how we support our network and the people we all love to help. We are delighted to report that we have now raised sufficient funds to implement Phase Two of our development. This will allow our website to take a major leap forward. We will soon add secure sections for Job Club leaders and volunteers where they will be able to download session guides and participate in a mentor forum either giving or receiving advice. Another section of the website will cater for Job Club members by providing free invaluable information on online job search, Digital Literacy training, CV and Job application guidance, interview techniques, presentation and wellbeing. There will soon be an online registration form for your Job/Work Club to become a GB Job Clubs affiliate, free of course!
Phase Two also heralds the codification of our GB Job Clubs community franchise. We have drawn from our combined experiences and diverse ways that Job Clubs are run and will make our manual available free online (once the new website is operational) to any community where volunteers wish to set up an inclusive, free to attend club. We will also come to you to help you set up your club (again free apart from our travel costs).
We are now looking forward to Phase Three where we launch The Jericho Programme our enterprise incubator. We are working with partners to develop franchisable community service businesses, off the shelf simple to start opportunities such as Window Cleaning, Vehicle Valeting, Gardening and Tailoring. All this will be available to members of clubs affiliated to the GB Job Clubs Network.
Thanks to many in our Network who have told us that others are setting up networks for Job and Work Clubs; as they say imitation is the greatest form of flattery! We have no right to nor do we want an exclusive arrangement with any Job/Work Club and suggest that if someone is offering you something of benefit hopefully free of charge for your club then take what is on offer. We are a registered charity and it is our aim to serve Job Clubs and Jobseekers to the best of our ability without ever looking to profit. I would exercise extreme caution if for example you are asked to subscribe hundreds of pounds per year for online job search please be aware that it is easy and absolutely free to find out online who is employing anywhere in the UK.
Finally to the Jobseeker: if at first you don’t succeed, join a Job Club!
And; To the Job Club Leaders and Volunteers: Thank you so much for the amazing work you do, the testimonies received from club members show just how far a little confidence can take someone and it often started with you providing a cup of tea and an ear.
Congratulations to Enterprise M3 Job Club in Basingstoke and Dorchester Work Club for launching today. Four in one week must be a record.
In Dorchester Oliver Letwin MP and Angus Campbell leader of the County Council were joined by our Development Director Jane Gould to open the club and encourage the amazing team of local volunteers.
Good luck folks you are doing amazing work
Here are the preferred bidders who will deliver the Work programme. GB Job Clubs are trying to contact all Contractors in an effort to establish links and where appropriate secure funding for Job Clubs in our network. Please contact me if this is of interest, if you have any information to share or if you already have a relationship with a Contractor in your area. firstname.lastname@example.org
Reed in Partnership
North West (Manc,Cheshire)
North West (Mersey,Lanc)
South East (Berk,Buck,Ox,Hamp)
South East (Surrey, Sussex, Kent)
South West (Devon, Cornwall etc)
South West (Glous, Wilt, West England)
West Mid Birmingham and BlackC
Newcastle College Group
West Mid Coventry & Rural
Y&H NE Yorks & Humber
Newcastle College Group
Y&H South Yorkshire
Y&H West Yorkshire
When I came up with the idea to give away a laptop to a Job Club in the network I hadn’t fathomed how difficult it would be to judge the entries. It is clear that everyone who entered deserved to win and a laptop pre loaded with the Digital Literacy Curriculum would be put to tremendous use. The upshot is that I will now try to raise some funds specifically to enable GB Job Clubs to provide laptops to clubs where they are needed.
I ultimately managed to whittle entries down to a final four and they were EM3JC, Northampton, Gillingham and Strood all clubs had presented really strong cases. I have chosen Strood and look forward to meeting Kevin Jennings soon to deliver the laptop.
Sincere thanks to all who entered if i can ‘blag’ some laptop funding I will be in touch and hearty congratulations to Strood from Jane and myself.
Nick de Bois MP for Enfield spoke to us last month about setting up a much needed Job Club for his constituents. Nick is a formidable ‘can do’ MP he and his energetic team launched Enfield Jobs Club today in record time! We are delighted to have played a small part in this brilliant community initiative and wish the Club every success. Unemployment can be a lonely journey but that need not be the case any longer for jobseekers in Enfield.
Press Release from Nick de Bois MP
Just a quick reminder to say that the Enfield Jobs Club is being launched on Monday.
The event will be on from 10am to 12 noon, and is very much just a drop-in session for you to come by, register your interest and learn a bit more about what sort of things will be happening. There will also be a representative from GB Job Clubs, a charity with the aim of helping people find work, who are helping us run the Enfield Jobs Club. Read more about them at www.gbjobclubs.org.
I hope to see you there!
Monday 28th March
10:00am – 12:00 noon
at Southbury Leisure Centre
Nick de Bois
Member of Parliament for Enfield North
I think that the Government should be commended for the introduction of the Welfare Reform Bill in the incredibly short time of 9 months which must reflect on Iain Duncan Smith’s in depth work on this key policy area whilst in opposition with colleagues at the Centre for Social Justice.
Gavin Poole CSJ Executive Director said “This Bill should be welcomed right across the political spectrum. The CSJ believes it offers a once in a generation opportunity to overhaul a dysfunctional and chaotic benefits system that locks people in poverty and stifles aspiration. Most people now recognise that work is the best route out of poverty, but this is a sign that the Government will turn its commitment into action.”
How then will this affect Job Clubs?
At present we only serve a small percentage of the unemployed in our communities but this will change as the pressure to work increases. We are distinct from JC+ and DWP contractors in that attendance is not nor ever should be compulsory. This Bill comes into force in 2013 but I expect we will see a mood change from JC+ in the way they handle claims far before this deadline. The pressure on the unemployed to find work will be immense and this is where Job Clubs can really help. We don’t set targets we are here to help one another, encouragement and empowerment are key to the success of any Job Club. The Welfare Reform Bill specifically the ‘Work Programme’ is likely to lead to an influx of many more members to Job Clubs.
Make no mistake job seeking will be tough in the next few years with a limited number of jobs available and an increasing number of earnest jobseekers. A Job Club needs to be the ’safe place’ where members can vent their spleen as well as build one another up to face the rigours of the journey.
Chris Neal 18th February 2011
I have started to use Twitter to convey snippets of Job Club related news
if you want to pick up on these please ask to follow CJNeal
I would love to broadcast any news from other Job Clubs especially success stories people landing jobs etc tweet me or just email email@example.com
Have a great week
In Church this morning we heard from several volunteers involved in social action. They make a difference in our community and contribute a tiny part of the estimated 72 million hours of volunteering for social initiatives undertaken by the Church in the UK. The value put on the contribution by the Church is estimated to be between £1.5Bn to £2Bn per annum and does not take into account voluntary work by Christians in the community that is not initiated by a Church. You can read the full Church Insight report here: http://www.churchinsight.com/Groups/149033/ChurchandCommunity.aspx
It is pretty impressive stuff and is by far the best example of ‘Big Society’ in action although it must be said volunteering is by no means the sole preserve of the Church as many of our Job Clubs prove.
Last week a senior Government Minister encapsulated the meaning of the term Big Society; Baroness Sayeeda Warsi said this “The big society is defined by many in this House as being what most of them have done for most of their lives. It is a volunteering, social action, philanthropic approach to life, but it is also about the opening up of public services to local control and devolution of power.”
David Cameron and his Ministers are under vociferous attack from both opposition and the media rubbishing Big Society and claiming that cuts will render the whole concept impotent. Many third sector figures have contributed to the ‘cuts kills volunteering’ lobby notably Dame Elisabeth Hoodless whose parting shot as she retires this week was to criticise the Government for a lack of strategy in addition to claiming that cuts will undermine the initiative.
This would be fair if Big Society belonged to David Cameron’s Government but it simply does not it belongs to us and its success is determined by us. For those of us who have been doing ‘Big Society’ for years the attack is unfair, unsubstantiated and fails to recognise the amazing work already taking place. It is heartening to have a Government who are willing to support our initiatives and it is up to us to suggest creative ways for them to provide help such as using the tax system to encourage investment in social enterprise.
Our charity GB Job Clubs aims to support the network of Job and Work Clubs that are springing up around the country, there are over 80 up and running and more than 30 in development. All that is needed for a community to have a Job Club is a venue, volunteers and some jobseekers. A lot of the clubs in the network are volunteer run and judging by the constant stream of requests for start up help there is a heartwarming number of people willing to volunteer.
Now this is where I get excited by what Big Society really means. In July 2009 I set up a Job Club in Edenbridge, Kent and have just celebrated our fiftieth member landing a job. Think of this in financial terms; the Centre for Social Justice reckon that being in work saves around £8500 per annum in benefits. Well bless me little old Edenbridge Job Club has saved the tax payer £425,000 and we are one of the smaller clubs in the network. What then is the value of 100 Job Clubs £40m £50m? What do they cost to run? Edenbridge, Oxted and Richmond are the three clubs I facilitate and they cost nothing as all three venues are provided free of charge by the Churches in Edenbridge and Oxted and Harlequins Rugby Club in Richmond. I have spent a few hundred pounds on flyers and these have been delivered by volunteers so again cost to tax payer a big fat zero ‘0′.
I know of dozens of fantastic volunteers up and down the country doing the same work not for any other reason than they have some time available and are willing to help people in their communities cope with unemployment. We have been conditioned by successive Governments to rely on the state. Big Government has told small society “You don’t need to love one another just pay us taxes and we will do it for you”. It hasn’t worked Job Centre Plus is ill equipped to deal with the needs of a genuine job seeker as Andrew Bence unpacked most effectively in this recent article in the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2011/jan/29/join-the-job-club
We cannot afford to pay our taxes and expect the state to deal with all of society’s ills on our behalf in fact the opposite is true the more we sit back and allow them to try the more disengaged we become, social cohesion is lost because we no longer interact with one another. We leave it to a highly and probably over trained raft of public sector employees to attempt to deliver social action through a treacle sea of box ticking and regulation. Not their fault they are just doing their job and trying to make the best of the burdensome structure imposed from above. A job club run in the community for the community and by the community is unfettered and does not have to tick any boxes. The self help ethos we engender encourages empowerment which in turn raises self esteem, a little confidence can take someone a long way and invariably does!
I see Big Society as both an acceptance by David Cameron and a positive move to devolve power to us in the knowledge that Government may at last be able to trust us to help one another rather than continuing to impose top down bureaucratic, costly solutions that result in emasculation. The more we can do for each other in our own communities the more we can save ourselves. We are building on the solid foundations of the past to revitalise Big Society but the quid pro quo has to be lower taxes and a lot less red tape.
Chris Neal – 13th February 2011
tel 0300 3300 150