Ugh, I may as well move to London…or Edinburgh…or Bristol…I seem to be there more often than I’m in Newcastle now!
London never ceases to amaze, and utterly confuse me… I’m there pretty much twice a week now, yet, whenever I think I have the London Tube understood, or managed to get to grips with how busy everyone here seems to be, something always occurs to make me realise I have literally no clue.
I was given the chance to attend a meeting with Chris Grayling MP (Minister for Welfare Reform) To represent Changemakers in voicing the concerns of Young People with regards to the planned Welfare Changes.
(It wasn’t just me and Chris Grayling there…that would be weird, and I’m pretty sure with my general view of MP’s, he’d have stormed out after 5 minutes shouting something like “NEVER LET HIM NEAR ME AGAIN!”)
There was myself, Anna, one of the staff members, and Alex, as well as about 20 – 30 other Young People from a range of different organisations.
Before Chris Grayling appeared, we had all agreed on 3 main questions which we felt were the most urgent for him to respond to, which were;
“As part of the Work Program announced, different organisations are given responsibility to support unemployed Young People into work, but they are paid on a Payment By Results Model. How can you guarantee that this process won’t encourage organisations to focus their attention on Jobseekers who’re easier to place in work, rather than those from the more disadvantaged groups, who may be left to their own devices?
“How does the proposed Work Plan intend to support Young People who are suffering some form of disability?”
The third question…I forgot (woops..) However, Chris Grayling MP managed to answer each question we asked, I have to admit, I’m not entirely convinced yet…or convinced at all to be honest, but I have his email address now..so I’m going to bombard him with question, after question, after question, just because I can J
After our 3 original questions were answered, the floor was open for the Young People to ask any additional questions they feel need answering. There were the same kinda points you’d expect any worried Young Person to make, worries about education, how Young People can get into work if there isn’t actually any jobs available, etc.
About the work program;
The Work Program, announced by the Coalition Government, aims to replace much of the existing Work Support that’s currently available (New Deal, Employment Zones, Pathways to Work, Future Jobs etc.) and aims to provide tailored, flexible support to those who need it, “Built around their own needs”.
508 Voluntary Sector Groups, including The Princes Trust, Greater Manchester Youth Network, Rathbone, Platform 51 and many others, will be involved with delivering this Programme.
Organisations who deliver the Work Program will be Paid By Results, meaning they don’t get paid, unless they can prove they have supported people to find employment, and remain in their employment.
I had my own concerns around this, I work predominantly, with a lot of Young (ex) Homeless people, who need to overcome some major personal and social barriers before it’s acceptable (In my view) to find work…quite often if we support a Young Person at the age of 16, they will be 20/21 before they are in a position where they feel comfortable looking for employment, however, such a long period of unemployment can greatly affect someone’s motivation/confidence, in being able to find work, (Think about it; If you were an employer, and you had the chance to hire a Young Person who has been unemployed for 4 years, or a Young Person who has worked non-stop, with unemployment gaps of a couple of weeks, who would you hire?)
Another concern was that the Payment By Results model won’t provide enough incentive for organisations to support people with more complex support needs.
Personally, if I was being paid by results, I would find it so hard to motivate myself to support those who need more support, instead of the people I could easily find work for, especially since it would greatly reduce the chance of me actually getting enough results for adequate payment.
Apparently though, there’ll be incentives in place for each organisation to support those with more complex needs/barriers, I’m doing some research into this to see if that’s correct/whether it’s a load of old tosh.
The meeting never lasted long, Chris Grayling had to leave to vote on something to do with the economy/budget…no idea what though, I’m sure a Newspaper affiliated with Labour will surely tell us what it is though, and how it’s going to ruin the lives of our children, our childrens children, and our pets for the next 200 years to come…
(I don’t support the Tories…I just dislike it when Newspapers take a political stab at a Government just because their Journalists Taxes increase by £5 and act like the Worlds going to end in a horrific ball of fire…even then they’d probably say “That ball of fire was in the Tories Policies! We told you all along!...)
Once the meeting finished, everyone started networking, as you do, and started talking to eachother about where they’re from, what they do, what interests them, all that lovely stuff! I have to say, the Young People that were there were incredible, bearing in mind these people were all under 25, there were Campaign Leaders, Project Managers, Film Makers, one guy was running his own business…It really brings home how much Young People are stigmatised and stereotyped when you meet people like these, who are doing amazing things each day!
And then we come to my journey home…managed to work out the Tube without an issue…I was giving someone directions when a student/traveller/hipster/whatever you want to call it, noticed my accent, and launched into a half-hour tangent about how Northern Accents are so friendly and how she loves them so much…this distracted me enough to miss my stop, so I had to double-back on myself and get the 9pm train home as I missed the 8pm one…
The 9pm train was delayed…by Hours…It never got here until 12:30am, and then, it got delayed even further at Stevenage..meaning I never got home until about 5am…and had work at 6am (Hurray!) So, needless to say, I experimented a lot with my caffeine tolerance levels and wasn’t what you would call “coherent” all day.
Don’t you just love Adulthood eh? I wish I was a toddler again where my biggest worry in life was “Why doesn’t this milk taste like chocolate?!”