The last few weeks have been incredibly hectic and I have really struggled to find time to share all the exciting things that have been happening, as we work to make the Community Allowance a reality. I last posted just before the Conservative Party Conference – so that seems like a good place to start…..
Conservative Party Conference – Fringe event
Oxfam recently adopted the Community Allowance as one of their key campaigns to tackle poverty in the UK. They offered to support us to run fringe meetings at the Party Conferences providing us with an opportunity to talk to MP’s about the Community Allowance difference. I attended the Conservative Party Conference, along with one of our partners Learning Link’s CEO Zoe Gray. Our fringe was a real success with a lively and interesting audience, really getting to the heart of issues and enabled us to show how successful community organisations are at supporting people back into work.
House of Lords evening reception
The new Work Programme is due to be launched next summer and will replace all existing training and support programmes for unemployed people. In order to ensure that the Community Allowance is included in the Work Programme we need to develop strong partnerships with a number of large multi-million pound Welfare to Work providers. To help us meet as many providers as possible Baroness Stedman- Scott, offered to host an evening reception at the House of Lords, so we could explain what the Community Allowance could offer.
The reception was a real success with CEO’s and Directors from 12 of the largest Welfare to Work companies meeting with community organisations who want to deliver the Community Allowance. St Peter’s Partnership were able to explain the real difference it would make to their work and their community. We also heard from one young person who’s mum had been supported by St Peter’s Partnership to find work and the challenges her mum had overcome. It was a real great night and I am now starting work on turning the promises made on the night into firm commitments that will finally enable organisations like St Peters Partnership to develop Community Allowance for their communities.
Yesterday I was invited by the BBC to talk about the government’s announcement to introduce compulsory unpaid manual work for unemployed people (BBC Interview here). I stressed that if our shared goal is to support people back into work that we need to offer good quality training, support and real work experience – that reflects the local job market – so people have the opportunity to gain the skills and experience to get a job.
I contrasted a 4 week compulsory programme where unemployed people worked for 30 hours “litter picking” or “gardening” – with our approach – a comprehensive training and support programme that creates a part-time job which reflects local jobs e.g. landscaping. We would offer a part-time paid job, where people can gain experience of really working in the landscaping industry, the type of work and machinery involved, the qualifications required and an up to date reference.
I didn’t have time to raise the other Community Allowance difference – the impact on communities. Creating local jobs within community organisations gives a real boost to the ability of those organisations to safeguard vital services and to develop new ones to meet local need. In a time of ongoing cuts and threats to services – we need practical and affordable solutions, which can deliver for unemployed people and local communities.
So an interesting four weeks which lots of talking and finding common ground – now I am looking forward to being able to tell you about who we will be working with to deliver the Community Allowance.
With best wishes