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turning policy into reality

autumn 2008


l B
child poverty
l actin
 g against
gun and knife crime
l g
 etting back to work:
new ideas from
Germany and poland
up front: contents
News 4
Events and news from around the world

View from the chair

What gets A4e chairman Emma Harrison
5 From the editor
up in the morning?
Sara McKee
The Blueprint interview 6
We talk to Lisa Harker, co-director of the Institute
for Public Policy Research, about child poverty

In the nick of time 9

6 20

Ex-offender turned elcome to the first issue of the new,
policymaker Mark re-designed Blueprint magazine.
Johnson tells his Home alone 24 We’ve given the magazine a fresh,
story – and gives Why single parents in the north of England new look to showcase the work A4e
advice on how to no longer need to go it alone is doing around the world. We’re really excited about
help youngsters sharing some of our real-life stories and highlighting
stay on the straight Keeping it in 26 the important work our teams and partners are re-offending and his gradual rehabilitation.
and narrow undertaking, much of which happens behind Johnson is currently advising policymakers about
the family
How a new programme the scenes. reintegrating prisoners and disadvantaged young
Opinion 13 in Germany is helping Being With the latest unemployment figures showing people into society – read more about his story on
Mark Lovell, A4e executive chairman, that the number of unemployed people in the UK page nine.
on joined-up thinking
to boost home life and
relationships by getting
impoverished increased to 1.67 million between April and June, Being impoverished can also affect your life

Fashioning a new life 14

unemployed families can affect there’s never been a more important time to give
jobless people the help they need – and deserve. This
chances as a child, as we find out on page six. Lisa
Harker, co-director of the Institute for Public Policy
back to work
How a group of job-seekers in Hackney used your life issue, we visited the West Midlands to find out about
an innovative project in Smethwick, called LACES,
Research, gave us a thought-provoking insight
into the issues of child poverty, highlighting some
fashion to help tackle gun and knife crime A new horizon 30
We look at the demise of traditional industries in
chances as that’s helping people in a disadvantaged area gain the important factors that need to be overcome if we’re
Legal eagles 18 skills and confidence to get back to work. to give children the chance they deserve.
Got a legal problem? Then there’s a team in
Poland – and the new opportunities for workers a child Those in deprived areas face many different Meanwhile, lessons learned from a new family
Leicester that can help – for free issues, but thanks to the work of A4e and programme run by A4e in Germany are now being
10 in ten 32
Smethwick Council, many local people have found put into action in Wales – read more on page 26.
Martin Oxley, chief executive of the British-
Playing a supporting role 20 work and others are in the process of gaining new Sticking with an international theme, we look at
Polish Chamber of Commerce, answers our
A scheme in the West Midlands is helping locals skills to help them back into work – see page 20 to how a new project in Poland is helping the country’s
quick-fire questions
gain new skills and jobs find out more. long-term unemployed (page 30).
With the highest number of people out of work
Looking to the future in Europe, addressing unemployment in Poland is
Another issue that can affect children and young clearly a pressing priority.
people is crime. Although the latest figures show
that crime levels have dropped in the UK, it’s still Enjoy the magazine,
crucial to steer young people away from drugs,
violence and theft at an early age to give them a
better, clearer path for the future. We spoke to ex-
A4e’s new manifesto on offender and author of Wasted, Mark Johnson, who
shared his experiences of being in borstal,
tackling poverty is out now.

Visit to
download the report. produced by: Cambridge Publishers (

group commercial director:

Sara McKee, A4e

To contribute to Blueprint, contact Sara McKee on or call

free on 0800 345 666. A4e Head Office, Bessemer Road, Sheffield S9 3XN.

Opinions expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of A4e Ltd or Cambridge Publishers Ltd.

2 blueprint autumn 2008 blueprint autumn 2008 3

Up fROnT: round-up Up fROnT: view from the Chair
news in
News 140 million workers in
India are categorised as
casual labourers, with no
regular source of income.
HMP Warren Hill has

A sense of
been hailed as a centre
of excellence by the BBC
for its adoption of the
corporation’s Reading and
Writing (RaW) campaign.

social purpose
A film crew from the
BBC’s Look East magazine
show visited the Suffolk
prison/young offender’s
institute to see its literacy
programme in action,
which was launched in

2005 to help over-25s to
read and write. ’m often asked what gets me up in the morning
Ali Martin, from Warren and what makes me continue to want to build
Hill’s A4e Juvenile A4e into a global organisation. Well it is very
Offender Learning
department, attended the simple – it’s my passion. If you’re going to be
launch of RaW and found successful in anything – be it business or sport or a
the BBC interested in hobby, you have to follow your passion.
working with the Suffolk
institute. ‘Although we I’ve been inspired by Team GB at this year’s
are a young people’s Beijing Olympics: who would have thought we’d be
establishment catering for in the top four in the medals table! They’ve put in
15 to 18-year-olds, the
BBC embraced the fact we so many gruelling hours of training, withstood many
frustrations and shown so much determination to

India scales skills summit

wanted to get involved,’
she said. EmmA hARRISOn deliver such fantastic results.
The Literacy Department
has since used a variety of
Chairman, a4e That’s what we try to do at A4e. We may never
RaW resources to create achieve a gold medal or world recognition, but we
India was set to host economies in the world. million people); l 70 per cent of engaging and stimulating can be proud of the many thousands of lives we’ve
a Global Summit on But the Confederation l A school drop-out workers being defined Asian businesses are helped to improve over the past 20 years.
Skills development as of Indian Industry rate of 90 per cent; as illiterate or educated flying high thanks to What gets me out of bed? Influencing senior
AImIng hIgh NWDA support.
Blueprint went to press. believes that for India l Ninety per cent of below primary level. The Tees Valley Education politicians to think about the individual when they
Sponsored by to realise its growth the workforce being A4e India will be Business Partnership design their next policy and inspiring, encouraging
A4e, the New Delhi
summit held on
potential, the country
needs large-scale skills
employed in the
‘informal’ sector, which
working with the
government, as well
(TVEBP) – unique as it
is managed by a private
company – aims to be
Start-ups gain pace and elevating my teams to be braver, look outwards
and go that extra mile for our clients.
17-18 September was development means their skills have as private sector and one of the best EBPs in A total of 131 business region. In addition, I like to travel regularly and visit our centres
the country, according to
designed to draw programmes. no formal recognition; industry representatives TVEBP Manager Amanda
start-ups led by Asian more than 1,000 across the UK and internationally. I want to talk to
together key speakers The confederation l No skills courses for to overcome some of Olvanhill. entrepreneurs have new businesses the clients we help, to find out what would motivate
to address skills wants India to school drop-outs; these challenges. Olvanhill explains: ‘The been created over the have started up with them, what difference we can make to give them
team do a fantastic job,
development in India. become a ‘knowledge l 140 million workers
but we still have huge
past year, thanks to the the consortium’s confidence to try a new skill or apply for that job
MORE INFO: contact
With economic superpower’ by 2020. being categorised as Sidharth Mishra at ambitions. We want to be Northwest Regional help. they dream of and to understand from our fantastic
recognised as one of the
growth of 10 per cent,
India is one of the
Barriers to this include:
l Unemployment at
casual labour, with no
regular source of work or see
www.cii-skillsdevelopment. best EBPs in the country.
Development Agency’s
(NWDA) Business Start
A4e recently
showed its support
We can be tutors what tools they need to make it happen. In
short, to do whatever it takes to improve someone’s
We want to grow the
fastest-growing 9.6 per cent (or 49 or income;
business and aim to do Up initiative. for Asian businesses proud of life today.
this on a reputation built Operated by A4e by sponsoring the That’s why when I talk about A4e, I don’t talk
on quality and best value.’
and delivered by a New Business Start
the many about corporate social responsibility. I believe in
TVEBP, one of many
consortium of partners Up category at the thousands having a social purpose in whatever I do and I’m
Tommy’s praise for Scottish scheme
EBPs working hard to link
business to education in the in north-west England, Tiger Awards, held by continuing to build on that philosophy around the
UK, transferred to A4e from
the Connexions Service in
on behalf of the the Asian Business of lives we’ve world. I hope when you visit our centres or meet
Skills Development people who have been the programmes in what I wanted to do. 2007. Next year, the
partnerships will continue
NWDA, the scheme Foundation. helped to with A4e people, you’ll see that we’ve all signed up
Scotland has renewed unemployed for more Glasgow will be offered The help I received aims to encourage Blackburn-based to our mission – to improve people’s lives.
its contract with A4e than six months; and short courses to make was first-class.
to innovate, sourcing
funding from contracted
business start-ups Univision Eye Centre, improve
Scotland, which will Get Ready for Work, them more attractive to ‘I ended up getting and commercial activities and advise fledgling a family-owned EmmA hARRISOn
help more than 100 which aims to help prospective employers my forklift driving and using the businesses within opticians with multi-
entrepreneurial approach
Scots get back to work school-leavers find work. in the retail, transport certificate, which that enables them
under-represented lingual staff, won the
over the next year. Training for Work and logistics industries. enabled me to get to deliver a high-quality, groups and areas in award for outstanding
The contract, will focus on helping Tommy Reynolds, a job working in a cost-effective service. the region. customer service.
which will run until the unemployed in who has participated in warehouse.’ The consortium
MORE INFO: contact
March 2009, will Glasgow, Ayrshire Training for Work, said: MORE INFO: contact Amanda Olvanhill at
has helped more than MORE INFO: contact
Janet Houghton at
cover two initiatives: and Fife. Those ‘Prior to getting help Russel Griggs at 3,000 people with janethoughton@a4e.
Training for Work for who participate in from A4e, I didn’t know or see pre-start support or see www.
Inspiring... Team GB win
across the north-west
another gold medal in Beijing.

4 BLUEpRInT autumn 2008 BLUEpRInT autumn 2008 5

the blueprint interview: Lisa Harker

‘So many problems

have their roots in
child poverty’
With over half of the children living in poverty family where someone does have a job, so it’s also
about low pay, where the family wage is not enough
coming from workless households, the link between to make ends meets.
People living in poverty can be both home owners
child poverty and sustainable employment is clear. and those living in social housing. The latter is
We talk to Lisa Harker, co-director of the Institute strongly associated with poverty, but by no means
exclusive. There are many families who we might
for Public Policy Research, about why eradicating consider on the surface not to be poor – they have
a job, they contribute to society, they have a home
child poverty, improving education and boosting and they may be working in organisations around
household incomes is so critical us. But although child poverty levels have fallen
overall in the last 10 years, the proportion of poor
children living in working families has remained
How do you define child poverty? much the same.
profile There are various ways of measuring it. The Income levels have improved across the board
Name: Lisa Harker government has three core measures: poverty Although in the last 10 years, too, but we have not seen a
can be measured in an absolute way by taking a substantial reduction in the gap between rich and
Age: 39
Education: Lord fixed poverty line over a period of time, or it can
being poor poor. We’ve seen an increase in the number of
Digby’s School, be measured in a relative way which looks at the does not mean parents with jobs, but not a significant improvement
Dorset; Bristol proportion of people on incomes below 60 per cent in families reliant on a low wage.
University; London of the average income. That poverty line changes
a certain life
School of Economics year-on-year as the average incomes change. sentence, it Why is it so important for us to eradicate
Current role: The third way is a material deprivation measure. child poverty?
Co-Director, Institute In other words, what people are going without significantly It’s partly about improving the life chances of
for Public Policy because they have a low income. This could be not increases the children – the principle in society is that children
Research being able to afford a warm coat in winter, a hot should have equal chances in life – but it’s also
Job history: meal every day or an annual holiday of some sort. risk of poor about social justice and equality. Eradicating poverty
l Independent adviser If you measure them over time, you can see how is of interest to society at large, too. If poverty is
on child poverty to poverty changes – they tell a story as to what is
educational at the root of social problems, it’s more costly for
the Department for happening to incomes in Britain and child poverty attainment, society to fix those problems at a later date. If we
Work and Pensions in particular. want a society that’s healthier, more productive, with
(2006) poor health less crime and fewer social differences, we have to
l Deputy Director, What, in your experience, is the main and later life tackle child poverty. So many problems have their
IPPR cause? roots in child poverty.
l Chair, Daycare Trust There are several causes. Worklessness – in other chances, such
l Social Affairs words, being brought up in a family where no-one
as getting a job Does poverty mainly affect lone parents?
Adviser, BBC has a job – is a major cause of child poverty. In this It’s certainly the case that while lone parents have
l Head of Campaigns, country, we have a higher proportion of families a very high risk of being in poverty, the bulk of
Child Poverty Action without anyone in work than any other European families in poverty have two parents. There’s a high
Photo: Kevin Nixon

Group country. But half of all children in poverty live in a risk where neither parent is in work, as well as in

6 blueprint autumn 2008 blueprint autumn 2008 7

the blueprint interview: Lisa Harker

I had
aspirations, but
families where one member of the family is in work, a complicated mix of parental and educational
but the wage is not sufficient. factors. They are disadvantaged partly because of
I didn’t have
a lack of access to educational resources such as the tools to get
But is child poverty really an issue in the books in the home, partly language development,
UK, compared with the problems faced by and partly their peer groups. Who they interact hold of them.
third world countries? with, mixing with other families in poor situations I didn’t have
Poverty in the UK is of a different kind to that in and not accessing social networks that other more
the developing world, but no less devastating in its affluent parents might be aware of all contribute. It any support
impact on children’s life changes. Living on a low really underlines that poverty in itself is damaging to Mark Johnson
income in a rich country can have a substantial children’s life chances.
impact on the opportunities for children to
flourish. It means reductions in health, educational How important is education in beating
opportunities and a reduction in those children
A child’s life chances are
child poverty?
taking up the kind of opportunities that we now restricted by poverty. It’s critical, not only because being out of work
consider normal for puts families at a very high risk of poverty, but by
most children. The improving skills, parents can ensure that they have
consequences of being access to the kind of employment which will help
poor in a rich country lift their family out of poverty. So the focus should
are a serious problem not just be on getting back to work, but improving
and should not be their skills, too.
dismissed just because,
pound for pound, What can the government do to help?
the children are rich Over the past 10 years, the government has put in
compared to those in the place an enormous amount of initiatives to try to
developing world. tackle child poverty, largely driven by an objective
of eradicating it in 20 years. They have invested in

In the nick of time

What are the future additional financial support for families through
implications for an benefits and tax credits, and by schemes such Sure
impoverished child? Start and childcare facilities. It’s a combination
Almost all life chances of a redistribution of resources to ensure that
are linked to poverty. no family is living in a climate that makes them
Although being poor destitute, while ensuring there’s access to support
does not mean a and services. But they could be doing more. While
certain life sentence, it 600,000 children have been lifted out of poverty in We look at the work being done to get
significantly increases the past 10 years, it’s not really enough to put the
the risk of poor government on track to meet its pledge. disaffected and vulnerable young people
educational attainment,
poor health and later
When we look at how other countries respond
to the challenge of child poverty, we still spend
into training and work – before they find
life chances, such as comparatively small amounts to help families in themselves on the wrong side of the law
getting a job. It also those situations. Unless we invest more resources
increases the chances and look at ways that services and support can be
of getting into trouble really effective, we won’t be able to reduce child

and homelessness. poverty to a significant extent. f we don’t start listening to people at the sharp got drunk for the first time at the age of eight with a group
On most indicators of end, we’re going to have real problems. We need of skinheads at the bottom of the street. I tried heroin at
disadvantage, child poverty has a strong impact. Can families help themselves? programmes that will actually work for young 11 and got into trouble at school. I had aspirations, but
We know from research that smart children from Certainly. Getting out of poverty requires both people, not just for the civil servants who come I didn’t have tools to get hold of them. I didn’t have any
a poor background are overtaken by less bright support and personal energy, as well as commitment up with them.’ So says ex-offender Mark Johnson. And he support.’
but rich children – by the age of 22 months, It’s and initiative. There are many services available should know – a former drug addict who spent years in Johnson got into art college, but he soon realised that
for families that can help support families through and out of prison, he now runs a successful business and his own circumstances were very different to those of his
difficult times, so it is a responsibility of the advises policymakers about reintegrating prisoners and fellow pupils – and he didn’t fit in. ‘I had to go to college
individual to take up support when it’s available. disadvantaged young people into society. 200 miles away from home because there was a court
We know from research that smart It’s also about being open to being helped Johnson’s own story began as he grew up in a order to stop my dad coming near me’, he says. ‘All the
and recognising that for the sake of children, it’s dysfunctional family in the West Midlands with a violent other kids were going home to their parents and a meal,

children from a poor background are important to do everything possible to give them alcoholic father and a deeply religious mother who had and a visit to the Louvre every couple of months. And
the best start in life. But I have yet to meet many mental health problems. ‘Because of the chaos at home Mark Johnson is 200 miles away from home, living in a
overtaken by less bright but rich families who don’t believe that the most important and the volatile atmosphere, I spent a lot of time on the bedsit on £20 a week. Not surprisingly, without support, I
children – by the age of 22 months thing is the wellbeing of their children. streets and kept running away from home,’ he explains. ‘I couldn’t stick at it. But the people who’d always accepted

8 blueprint autumn 2008 blueprint autumn 2008 9

feature: offender management

The kind have done six months in prison than one week in rehab.
It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done because you have to
of education look at yourself and your behaviour. And it’s painful. The
I needed was Mark Johnson today who’s getting up at 7am, making his
bed, washing his clothes, making food and vacuuming is
about myself. because of that programme.
Ministers focus ‘The kind of education I needed was about myself.
Ministers focus on academic education, but it’s not what
on academic people need,’ he adds. ‘Somebody can live successfully
without even being able to read and write. They don’t
education, but need maths and English – they need to know how to act
it’s not what around other people.’
After the drugs programme, Mark decided to revive his
people need tree surgery skills and set up his own business, Treewise.
Mark Johnson Advice, loans and grants from the Prince’s Trust got
him started, and he was soon getting enough work to be
able to employ others. Keen to put something back into
society, Johnson made it his business to take on as many
ex-offenders or those in recovery as he could. ‘I can tell
you what an interesting experience it was to have 25 Young people practise teamwork, Training. The centre offers a mixture of one-to-one work, are to moving forward, and we’ll put together a personal
as part of a programme to build
ex-offenders and addicts out in the middle of the woods skills for the workplace. skills courses and work placements. All programmes are action plan with them.’
me were the ones at the end of the street – though along wielding chainsaws,’ he laughs. tailored to an individual’s needs – and the young person
with their friendship came an escalation in crime and His efforts came to the attention of others, and he is actively involved in deciding what sort of package will Going for goals
drug use. won the Young Achiever of the Year Award in Business, be put together for them. Business manager Siân Stephenson delivers the centre’s
‘Early on, I learned that you don’t change how you followed by the Daily Mail’s Pride of Britain award in Two of the centres’ programmes are Fit for GoalZ project to young people who have been excluded
feel by working through your problems, or by getting the 2005. Now 38, Johnson’s ‘success against the odds’ story Employment and GoalZ. Fit for Employment gives or are at risk of exclusion. One Year 10 student she
warm love and support of your parents – you change how has made him hot property when it comes to giving a young people training on skills such as listening, worked with was a ‘Schedule One’ offender, meaning
you feel by using a chemical. And the driver to get the voice to the disadvantaged – and coming up with ways communication and problem solving, followed by he had committed a violent crime against an under-18-
chemicals is crime. I ended up robbing the art college, of reaching out to young people before they go down the work placements, often in the construction industry. year-old. He was also aggressive and abusive to staff, had
and within two months I was in borstal.’ route of drug addiction or crime. Prince Charles invited Construction firms from the local area work in
Johnson found borstal very tough – both in terms of him to Clarence House to address a meeting of law and partnership with the centre and take on the most
the ‘short sharp shock’ military regime and his treatment policymakers and share his experiences. promising youngsters as apprentices. GoalZ aims to
case study: ben
at the hands of other inmates. Adjusting to life back on That led to him being offered a job on the board of the re-engage young people at risk of social and economic
the outside was even harder. ‘The code that you live by Probation Service’s Offender Management Programme From social exclusion
in borstal is not the same that society outside expects’, Board and the Regional Board of Directors. He’s been
he explains. ‘In borstal, if you don’t take, you’ll be taken. invited to many other meetings with policymakers,
to working success
If you show your vulnerability, someone will have you. I including Gordon Brown and Alex Salmond, and now In borstal, if you don’t take, you’ll be
got out and, within two months, I was back in again for a writes columns for The Big Issue and The Guardian. He’s taken. If you show your vulnerability, someone Ben was permanently excluded from mainstream school in
violent robbery.’ also written a best-selling book about his life, Wasted. year 10 due to his disruptive attitude and behaviour to staff
A prison officer got him into a drug treatment centre to ‘Young people need to be listened to,’ he says, ‘and we will have you. I got out and, within two months, and fellow pupils, and attended a Pupil Referral Unit.
tackle his addiction to crack and heroin, and he managed need to have programmes that are designed by them with I was back in again for a violent robbery He was diagnosed with ADHD and referred to the GoalZ
to get a job as a tree surgeon on his release. But he was their needs at heart, and involve them in the process. project for intensive support, training and mentoring, which
soon back on drugs, and holding down a full-time job There’s a huge divide: all the money and the resources mark johnson enabled him to develop work-related skills and behaviours
wasn’t easy. He ended up living on the streets in the West seem to go to people who are easy to help. There’s a big in a non-threatening environment. Ben achieved a level one
End of London, where he hit rock bottom. ‘I went down hole appearing where other groups, who the authorities exclusion and to remove barriers that will prevent them qualification while gaining valuable work experience.
to 7st 7lbs and I was covered in body lice and scabs. don’t know how to reach, are having resources designed from advancing to education, employment or training. He has now settled into a job with an orthopaedic
Society locks drug addicts up, but how can you punish for them that are futile.’ It identifies obstacles that may hinder their progression, company, Implants International (www.implants
someone who’s punishing themselves that much?’ offering personal and social development and work- Working with a small team of
Give youth a chance related training, as well as working with local employers to experienced machinists, Ben says: ‘I really enjoy working
A new direction A centre in Teesside offers young people exactly the kind source work placements and employment opportunities. with the guys and the hands-on nature of the job.’ Ralph
The turning point for Johnson came eight years ago of programmes where their voices are heard and their Michelle Bellamy, contract and liaison manager at Jordinson, Ben’s educational broker, adds: ‘Ben was not
when a former friend, Sean Evans, spotted him in a individual needs are catered for. The A4e-run centre, A4e Education and Enterprise in Thornaby, says: ‘There responding well to mainstream education. GoalZ provided
doorway. Evans, now a social worker, got Johnson into based at Thornaby Community School in Stockton, are a lot of young people in the Tees Valley who leave him with the intensive one-to-one support he needed.
a detox unit followed by a drug treatment programme. works with vulnerable young people to get them into school and just disappear and become NEET. Our job Many young people with ADHD often cannot cope with the
Even though it was exactly what he needed, he found education or employment. The project targets both is to engage with these people. We do a lot of our work mainstream environment, making it more difficult to make a
the rehabilitation process more difficult than prison life. under-16s who are not in school and 16- to 19-year-olds in the community on an outreach programme – we meet transition to employment or further education.’
‘Society calls it the soft option, but, at the time, I’d rather who are NEET – Not in Education, Employment or with these young people and find out what their barriers

10 blueprint autumn 2008 blueprint autumn 2008 11

a taste of life inside OPINION: MARK LOVELL
A4e Skills in Cardiff have been working with ex-offender
Gary Pearce to deliver a drug and offending prevention
education course to vulnerable young people. Pearce, We sorted some clothes. We got in touch with a
who has been in prison 16 times for driving offences and training and employment provider in London who
drug addiction, decided that enough was enough after his could help our client (we didn’t work in the area)

Home truths
final release in March 2005. and they agreed to help. We arranged transport and
‘When I came out of prison, I told my mentor that I accommodation in London. But this took time and
wanted to give something back to the community,’ he the lack of ‘join-up’ meant that this opportunity
says. ‘I started going to schools on a voluntary basis to began to look more and more difficult to our
talk about what life was like in prison. Finally I was put in ex-offender. It became one of those ‘it’ll never
touch with A4e, who started funding the project.’ The case of a former offender leaves happen to me’ situations. He lost faith and belief.
The DOPE (Drug Offending and Prevention Education) What happened next? Our client breached the
programme has had positive feedback from young Mark Lovell irritated – and determined to terms of the hostel and broke the rules. So he was
people. ‘I go to lots of schools and community centres all
over the UK,‘ says Pearce. ‘We do a variety of sessions
provide a solution for the future recalled to prison.
As a result, the opportunity to turn the corner

where we talk about drugs, prison life and what we lost and make a new start was lost. Could more have
when we were inside. Being in prison is not as easy as ver the past couple of months, been done? Yes. Does the person involved have to
Youngsters work with
everyone says it is. ex-offender Gary Pearce
I’ve spent some time working on take more responsibility for his actions? Absolutely.
‘We also do talks on alcohol and joyriding, showing to get a feel for prison life ADHD and alcohol and drug abuse issues, and had a international joined-up public services. Do we have a ‘system’ that enables, encourages and
the youngsters that with dangerous driving, it’s all about Statement of Special Needs. I have helped with the DeAnne Julius supports this rights and responsibility framework
the people that you leave behind. It’s really effective. I ‘His basic skills were very poor,’ says Stephenson ‘but report on the ‘public service industry’ in the UK and across different departments and agencies? No we
was very lucky to come out of prison, and my life has we managed to get him through the OCR Preparation have been developing offers for the US, Australia, don’t.
changed tremendously. If I can stop just one person going for Employment because he was very keen on going to France, Israel and the UK. At A4e we use situations like this to stimulate our
where I went, I’ve done what I wanted to do.’ work. No-one had ever explained to him what his status There is some great potential for A4e to use ideas, prompt innovation and drive our responses
meant in terms of his career options. We got him onto its diverse range of services to showcase how to government in how to make this situation better.
BLAS O FYWYD YN Y CARCHAR a work placement in a specialist farm centre that had improved joined-up public services are better It irritates our staff that they could not find a way
Bu Sgiliau A4e yng Nghaerdydd yn gweithio gyda’r experience of dealing with young people in situations for consumers and provide value for money and to make this work. But we have a concept, called
Mark Lovell wants to see
cyn-droseddwr Gary Pearce i gyflwyno cyrsiau addysg like his. He’s now on an access course at college.’ savings. Opportunities under the ‘right to bid’ and more progress on joined-up ‘Working Wing’, which is designed to address
public services.
atal cyffuriau a throseddu i bobol ifanc agored i niwed. A further programme, Routz2work, has supported the flexible New Deal in the UK welfare market these situations. It doesn’t need money, it needs
Mae Pearce yn defnyddio celfi megis cynllun gwir faint young people like Jennie who dropped out of school due mean that joined-up skills, enterprise, health and multi-agency agreement for us to join up funding.
cell mewn carchar, dillad sydd heb fod yn ffitio’n iawn ac to severe bullying. She had very little confidence, poor employment approaches are going to be developed. My question is not: what is the cost of tackling
sydd wedi’u staenio’n arw a roir i garcharorion a lluniau academic skills and low aspirations. She worked on a one- It also strikes me how difficult it is to do this in this? It is: what is
damweiniau ceir a achosir gan yrwyr dan effaith cyffuriau to-one basis with staff from Thornaby including Siobhan, practice. Often A4e goes the extra mile to make this the cost of not doing
neu alcohol er mwyn eu gwneud yn ymwybodol o wiri- a college leaver and youth consultant who had grown happen. But sadly, it doesn’t always work. The prisoner involved had a something? In this
oneddau defnyddio cyffuriau a bywyd yn y carchar. up in the local area and could understand the issues A few weeks ago, we had an opportunity for case it would have
Penderfynodd Pearce, sydd wedi bod yn y carchar 16 a prisoner we work with on our training and history of vulnerability, cost less than £4,000
o weithiau am droseddau gyrru a chaethiwed i gyffuriau, educational services. He had been identified as an addiction problem and no to resolve this issue.
having enormous potential by a tutor we brought in Yet, at a conservative
ei fod wedi cael hen ddigon ar ôl ei ryddhau ddiweddaraf
ym mis Mawrth 2005.
We do a lot of our work in the and he was offered a wonderful opportunity to join possessions, except the estimate, the cost to
‘Pan ddois i allan o’r carchar, dywedais wrth fy mentor community on an outreach programme – we a training course in London that would take him
clothes he had in prison the public purse of our
fod arna i eisiau rhoi rhywbeth yn ôl i’r gymuned,’ med- into the film industry. The prisoner involved had a client being returned
dai. ‘Dechreuais fynd i ysgolion yn wirfoddol i sôn am
meet with these young people and find out what history of vulnerability, an addiction problem and Mark Lovell, A4e executive chairman to prison is more than
no possessions, except the clothes he had in prison. £100,000.
sut beth oedd bywyd yn y carchar. Ymhen yr hir a’r hwyr their barriers are to moving forward It’s easy to lose sight of how hard it is to leave Is the fact that vulnerable people are being failed
rhoddwyd fi mewn cysylltiad ag A4e, a ddechreuodd
michelle bellamy the prison gates and make your way in the world by the system someone’s fault? I don’t know and I
gyllido’r prosiect.’
Mae’r rhaglen DOPE (Addysg Troseddau Cyffuriau to a new opportunity, avoiding the pitfalls and don’t care.
ac Atal) wedi cael ymateb cadarnhaol gan bobol ifanc. of young people struggling with education. Through networks that took you there in the first place. The What I do know and care about is that we have an
‘Byddaf yn mynd i lawer o ysgolion a chanolfannau working with Siobhan and Sian Stephenson, Jennie opportunity was in London and the prison was a opportunity in the UK to provide responses to these
cymuned ledled Prydain,’ meddai Pearce. ‘Byddwn yn gained confidence and now hopes to go to college to long way away. Grants for clothes and a place to issues. Public policy is providing a framework where
gwneud amrywiaeth o sesiynau lle byddwn yn sôn am learn beauty therapy and open her own beauty therapy live had been turned down. A number of A4e’s public, private and voluntary suppliers can work
gyffuriau, bywyd yn y carchar a beth roeddem yn ei golli business in the future. ‘Just because you are from a staff – doing the fantastic ‘extra’ stuff they always together to tackle such issues.
pan oeddem yn y carchar. Dydi bod yn y carchar ddim certain area and you haven’t got a lot of money, it doesn’t do – sought to work with several agencies to make My view is that it is impossible for an ‘agency’
mor hawdd ag y mae pawb yn dweud ei fod.
Students participate in a mean that you have to stay like that,’ she says. ‘You can go this transition happen. or ‘department’ to tackle this – suppliers must step
problem-solving challenge.
‘Byddwn hefyd yn cynnal sgyrsiau ar alcohol a gwe- to college and get qualifications and get a good job – you We found a hostel for him, but this was close up to the mark and make it happen. And that’s
fryrru, gan ddangos i’r bobol ifanc, pan fyddwch chi’n can have a better future.’ to the prison and close to those networks which what A4e is about – making it happen, improving
gyrru’n beryglus, y peth mawr ydi’r bobol rydych chi’n eu With courses such as GoalZ, Fit for Employment resulted in him being in prison in the first place. people’s lives.
gadael ar eich ôl. Mae’n wirioneddol effeithiol. Roeddwn and DOPE (see box) now on offer in many areas of the
i’n lwcus iawn i ddod allan o’r carchar, ac mae fy mywyd country, the hope is that vulnerable individuals such as
i wedi newid yn aruthrol. Os galla i stopio dim ond un Mark Johnson can be identified and given the help and
person rhag mynd i ble’r es i, rwy wedi gwneud be roedd support they need at the earliest possible stage. That way,
arna i eisiau’i wneud.’ they can be re-directed from years of crime or drug abuse,
instead of only being offered help when it’s too late.

12 blueprint autumn 2008

at the sharp end: tackling gun and knife crime

a new life
From walking the streets to walking the catwalk – time to raise money for two charities – Through
Unity, which was set up to help families of victims of
how a group of enterprising young people are knife, gun and gang-related crimes, and the NSPCC.
‘Every day we get the papers and read about gun
taking a stand against knife and gun crime crime, and Hackney is quite a bad place to live in
that respect,’ said Griffiths. ‘I grew up here, so I can

see how it’s changed – it’s got a lot worse. We’re
ublic concern about crime in general – just trying to tell people that there’s more to life
and knife crime in particular – has hit a than being a gangster.’ Over the course of a month,
new high this summer, fuelled partly by a the group began putting their plan into action, and
tabloid-led media frenzy over the issue. while the A4e team funded the project and bought
According to a new Home Office report, around essentials such as plain T-shirts, paints
two in three people believe that crime has increased and transfers, the clients began putting their
Let our children understand that nationally in the past two years.
This perception is challenged by the latest crime
any dream they have, they can truly fulfil. statistics released this summer. These show that case study: ‘It’s
That’s one of the things that our parents crime levels have fallen by nine per cent year-on-year our role and our
in England and Wales. job to guide these
taught us – to believe in our dreams At the same time, however, the figures also reveal young people’
Richard Blackwood, comedian
there were a staggering 22,151 knife-related crimes Nathan Levy is a director of
last year, which adds up to around 60 incidents Through Unity, a charity set
per day. Gun crime also rose by two per cent last up to help the families of gun,
year and drug offences were up 18 per cent – that’s knife and youth crime.
34,725 more crimes, clear evidence that street crime
has definitely not gone away. ‘On 16 September 2004, my brother, Robert, who’d
just finished his GCSEs, died from stab wounds. To
Getting to the root of the problem try to explain how that feels is impossible – it’s part
It’s clear the best way to tackle the problem is to of me that has gone. There will always be a limit to
reach the people at the heart of knife and gun crime my happiness.
– the youth on the streets. And that’s just what a ‘My work now is going into schools, talking to
group of young people at A4e in Hackney, north people to try to push forward Through Unity as a
London, have been doing. coalition of families to voice the concerns of our
The team, on a 13-week Gateway Plus programme society. Seeing what A4e is doing for gun and knife
run by A4e to help unemployed people get back to crime is really important because I don’t want us to
work, became inspired by Lisa Griffiths, Gateway watch our community and society fall to negative
Plus advisor at the centre, to start designing clothes. people who haven’t got any aspirations. But it’s our
Griffiths decided it would be a great idea to get role and our job to guide these young people.
the group involved in a creative project, and so the ‘Think about why we’re allowing our community
team started designing their own jeans and T-shirts. to fall to pieces. If we leave it to the Government,
They came up with the theme of tackling gun and nothing might ever change. I’m interested seeing
knife crime, and decided to put on a fashion show people make a productive change.’
to raise awareness of the issues – and at the same

blueprint autumn 2008 15

at the sharp end: tackling gun and knife crime Our charities

Gun and knife violence

continues to scar Britain and
claim the lives of talented
young people. Their families are all different, but
creative heads together and coming up with they share a common desire – to stop the killings
their own designs. and violence. Following contact with a number of
families who had lost loved ones to either gun or
New direction knife crime, The Foundation for Social Improvement
Scott Philpott, 19, from Hackney, admits he had (FSI) took action to support their individual efforts
little self-confidence before he came to A4e, and by bringing them together to form Through Unity, 
needed a new direction. ‘I’m interested in creating a coalition of relatives of young victims from
things with my hands, and this has given me the around Britain.  
motivation to do something new,’ he said. ‘Once we Through Unity’s founding members include
decided to put on the fashion show, it just escalated. Richard Taylor, whose son, Damilola, died in 2000
I feel good that we’re doing it for charity, not for and Ian Levy, father of Robert Levy. They have
ourselves. The whole thing has given me and the been joined by Pat and Nathan Levy (mother and
rest of the group a lot more confidence, especially as brother of Robert), Peter Sinclair, step-father of
part of the show involved us singing on stage.’ murdered 22-year-old Tom Easton, and Mike Jervis,
During the fashion show, the group modelled along with others. Through Unity acts as a gateway
to the network of families and the work they are
carrying out. Though the problems of these families
This project has given are complex, together their aims are simple – to
amplify and strengthen the message from families
me so much confidence
Scott Philpott, A4e client

their customised jeans and T-shirts on a catwalk A4e’s Gateway Plus

and came together to mime and sing to anti-gun clients, staff and young
helpers take to the stage.
and anti-knife crime songs. Comedian Richard
Blackwood was also on hand to support the efforts
of the team.
case study:
‘The new generation of kids that are coming I’m dyslexic and I left school at 13, but ‘Certain places
through don’t know what their identity or struggle
is,’ he said. ‘It’s really important that we take on because I can identify with some of the clients’ in Hackney are
board our responsibilities as parents to steer them no-go areas’
the right way.’ He went on to say that he believes that the violence must end, and to offer help to any
experiences, it helps – they really open up to me Scott Philpott, 19, from
the reason the media is currently so obsessed relatives who are suffering as they have done. This Lisa Griffiths, Gateway Plus advisor Hackney, has been on the
about gun and knife crime is partly because the may simply be advice on what to expect from police Gateway Plus course at A4e in
killers are now going outside of London. But, he and the courts, or a family may want to work to sound bites... know the difference between right and wrong from Hackney for 10 weeks.
added, communities have to take prevent further deaths, possibly with existing youth ‘I can see that as a an early age. If we don’t rein them in now, what
responsibility to come together and community regeneration groups. Educating community, these chance to they have?’ ‘I started out by going to my local job centre, and
and show some unity. ‘Kids young people about the dangers of guns, knives and young people are Shahida Din, business manager for A4e in after being put on the Working Links scheme, I came
violence is a central theme in all they do. pulling together to say Hackney, believes the whole event prompted the to A4e. Since coming here, I’ve been given help with
The FSI continues to support the organisation with no to gun and knife youngsters to make a difference – and not just for job searching using the computers and cold-calling.
mentoring of the CEO, development of the coalition, crime and youth violence. the charities. ‘The change in some of these people I don’t really mind doing it – the worst that they can
training, preparation of key working documents, When you leave today, has been absolutely breathtaking,’ she said. ‘The say is “no”. It’s good for my confidence.
support in the delivery of funding applications and be inspired by them.’ way they have come out of their shells – and started ‘The theme of our fashion show was to stop gun
facilitation of meetings. The support that the FSI Nathan Levy, director, coming in on time, doing the work that has been and knife crime. I’ve seen it on the streets, and I’ve
Luke and Jamie
lend their support offers has been instrumental in the success that Through Unity asked of them and giving their input – is amazing. known people who carry knives and guns. I haven’t
to the A4e clients Through Unity has experienced so far, with We only have them for 13 weeks, but they have been in the situation myself, but it depends where
during the show.
much more to look forward to in the coming year ‘Just seeing how the definitely motivated each other. you are. You could go around Hackney and be fine,
as Through Unity’s work becomes increasingly clients have pulled ‘They have made me really proud. By focussing but certain places are no-go areas.
important. together has been on their strengths and self-belief, they made the day ‘Part of it is the postcode issue, but you could
absolutely breathtaking. thoroughly enjoyable. I’ve offered the clients a room really walk through any postcode – it’s just whether
About the FSI I’ve seen where they’ve to use in our building, so if they want to, they can certain people see you at the wrong time. You could
Every day, small charitable organisations support come from and I’ve continue designing their own clothes and maybe be doing nothing wrong and get jumped on. They’re
individuals, families and communities, and seen where they’ve got start a small business selling them – who knows?’ after your money.’
positively touch the lives of millions. On a to, and it’s a massive
daily basis, thousands of these organisations change.’ Shahida Din, A4e’s fashion show was kindly sponsored by the following local businesses: TGS Total Guards Security; Iceland, Dalston; Superdrug,
struggle to remain open. business manager for Dalston; Matalan, Dalston; Primark, Mare Street; Docklands City Furniture, Hackney Road; Bestways, Cambridge Heath Road;
The FSI delivers expert knowledge, strategy A4e, Hackney Gardiners, Hackney Road, and Lees Cars, Hackney Road.

and support to them free of charge so

their futures are secure and their users
16 protected. blueprint autumn 2008 17
Day in the life: Community Legal Advice Centre

jessie ford
Legal eagles
One-stop shop... people who
come to the Leicester Community
Legal Advice Centre can receive
support in a wide range of areas
– relevant to home, family and
business matters – that might be
affecting the quality of their lives.

Putting the spotlight on life at the sharp end for

two employees at the newly-opened Leicester
Community Legal Advice Centre (CLAC)

personal view: ‘It’s great when we see results’

fast facts
Laura Beddard, 24, is a generalist case worker at Leicester CLAC

l The Leicester

y job involves giving general legal Community Legal Advice

Centre is being funded
advice to customers. We have a to the tune of £3 million
drop-in clinic every day from 10am- over the next three years
1pm and 2pm-4pm. So during that by Leicester City Council
time, I see a number of clients who need help with and the Legal Services
anything from benefits, family debt and civil actions l Research shows that
against other people to small claims, criminal across the UK, around
matters and personal injury. It’s a free service which 33 per cent of people
have legal problems and
is open to anyone who lives in Leicester – they don’t
one million problems go
have to be in a particular financial situation. unsolved each year.
This morning, I dealt with eight people – it was Leicester CLAC’s Laura Beddard l In Leicester, it is

particularly busy! But it all depends – for instance, if estimated that 27,000
people each year need
someone needs help with disability living allowance,
legal advice.
I can spend two hours with them filling in the forms. l Advisors at the centre
If it’s a housing benefit problem, I might have to have already given over
phone the council and spend an hour in the call 1745 people life-changing
queue. But then I might spend just 10 minutes with l The service is being
another customer with a quick enquiry. delivered by A4e in
Sometimes I need to refer customers to one of our personal view: ‘Debt impacts on every partnership with Howells
specialists if the matter is more complicated. For aspect of a person’s life’ mortgage arrears and a threat of court action or a What has changed over the solicitors, the largest
provided of Legal Aid
instance, if someone wants a divorce, I would make summons to appear in court. If that’s the case, then
a referral for them to our family team. Jim Coulson, 52, is a specialist debt advisor at Leicester CLAC I would deal with the client right up to their court years is that we see a lot more services in England.

people with a modest income,

It’s great to see results. For example, someone appearance, and even represent them in court.
came in with a problem with his bank – he kept ’ve been involved in debt advice case work for ‘We see a cross-section of society. But what has
getting charged for mobile phones he hadn’t 15 years. I don’t have any legal qualifications. changed over the years is that we see a lot more but a high level of debt
ordered. The company was taking money out of his But based on my extensive experience, I meet people with a modest income, but a high level of Jim Coulson
bank account and the bank wasn’t listening. He was the supervisory standards for community legal debt. They might have multiple credit cards or have
getting quite frustrated, but I managed to get back advice. I’ve got a good understanding of people’s taken out a large loan 10 years ago, that they can’t their employment. If they can get control of their
more than £500 for him. issues and problems. pay. finances, you’ll often find their relationships
Some days you can’t please everybody, and some The main part of my job is as a specialist. People also remortgage their houses to release improve, they’re happier going to work and they
clients don’t tell you the whole truth about their Someone might come into the centre to get legal equity, and arrears quickly build up on the second feel healthier – their stress and anxiety levels are
situation. But it does make me feel really pleased when advice, and if it’s a complicated matter, the advisor mortgage. In some cases, the only option is to cut reduced. As long as a person is in debt, they can’t
we sort out problems. It’s great to be there for them. might decide they need specialist help and refer your losses and sell the house. Otherwise you can concentrate on anything else.
them on to me. I usually spend about an hour- end up with your house being repossessed, leaving The biggest buzz I get from my work is when
and-a-half with customers, interviewing them and you with a mortgage shortfall of perhaps £10,000- I see people taking my advice and doing things
It does make me feel really pleased when we sort going through paperwork to see what the problem £20,000. However, some people cling onto their themselves – it empowers them. You can see their
is. For instance, someone might come to me with property and are left with nothing. confidence growing immediately. It also makes them
out problems. It’s great to be there for them. an electricity bill they can’t pay. But when I talk to Debt impacts on every aspect of a person’s aware that if they have a problem in the future, they Debt advisor Jim Coulson

Laura Beddard them in more detail, I might discover they also have life. It affects their health, their relationships and have the skills to deal with it themselves.

18 blueprint autumn 2008 blueprint autumn 2008 19

focus on: West Midlands

Engaging directly with a community in a deprived area of the

West Midlands is helping to provide job and training opportunities
to the unemployed – and giving them a new lease of life

Playing a
supporting role
inding work can be challenging at the Nanaya King talks
best of times, even when you’ve got plenty to a potential client
on the streets of
of qualifications and the support and West Bromwich.
encouragement of others around you.
But searching for a job when the area in which you
live is surrounded by unemployment with very few
opportunities means the stakes are instantly raised.
This is why a pilot project that has recently started I get so
up in the West Midlands has been making such an
impact on the lives of local unemployed people. The
much self-
Deprived Area Funding (DAF) contract in Sandwell, satisfaction
West Midlands, began in February 2008, and is run
jointly by A4e and Sandwell Council. By going out
out of running
into the community and engaging with those aged my own
19 or over, who are unemployed and have been in
receipt of benefits for at least 12 months, the project business. I’m
gives them the skills to get them back to work. Staff going to make
actively seek out potential clients using initiatives
such as holding surgeries in local community it work
centres and libraries, handing out leaflets in town Simon Lowe, 38,
centres and outside supermarkets, and visiting former a4e client
potential clients in their own homes.
Sandwell Council provides the training for
clients once their needs have been identified and,
rather than buying training courses in blocks,
bespoke courses are often arranged thanks to a
range of service level agreements with various
organisations. Helen Peach, employment and

20 blueprint autumn 2008 blueprint autumn 2008 21

focus on: West Midlands focus on: West Midlands

Samantha Foy,
‘I go to a number of areas to find clients, such as
‘I’d never go contracts manager for the local YMCA which has been very helpful,’ she ‘I wasn’t after just a job –
back to being A4e in Smethwick,
West Midlands. says. ‘I also do a lot of ringing around, and then I I was after a career’
unemployed again’ might go to the local library and give out leaflets or Craig Thompson, 20, is an A4e client from
Simon Lowe, 38, set up a new just speak to people on the street. Tipton. After working through the LACES
business, WB Ales, from a ‘Once I’ve found a new client, I spend a lot of programme, he has just landed his first job.
market stall in West Bromwich, time finding out what it is they might want to do. He hopes it will lead to a steady career.
as a result of gaining job skills Some come in and tell me that they want to be a
through the A4e programme. scientist, so I have to bring them back down to earth ‘I didn’t have much direction, and that’s one of the
and gently suggest areas that might be more suited things A4e has helped me with. I drifted from basketball
‘I’d been unemployed for a while before I started the to them. coaching to doing temping work in a factory because
A4e programme, and it made me feel useless. I was very ‘I mean, I’d like to be a model, but that’s never of the lack of opportunities, and although I went
keen to get back to work. Through A4e, I did a security going to happen! I become their friend, mother and back to college and gained qualifications, I still hadn’t
guard qualification and got a job at a local shop near confidante.’ found anywhere where I could apply those skills,’ says
the market. But although the job gave me a confidence Sorting out a client’s personal issues is also an Thompson (pictured below).
boost, it wasn’t really what I wanted to do. important part of getting them back to work. When ‘Fortunately, I was spotted by Sunder, my advisor
‘I’d noticed a vacant stall on the market, and came up someone’s been unemployed for at least a year – at A4e, at the local library, and he got me on to some
with the idea of selling home brew kits. With the recent and often longer – it’s easy to get used to not having courses. From there, a lot more options were opened
recession and a lot of pubs shutting down, I thought to think about paying bills such as council tax or up to me.
people would enjoy making their own beer. I’d been rent. But as soon as a person gets back into work, ‘The major problem for me was that I come from an
brewing lager at home for a couple of years, so I thought those benefits often stop – and that’s when there area where there’s not a lot of opportunities available.
I’d give it a go. can be difficulties. And I wasn’t after just a job – I was after a career.
‘I managed to save up two months wages from my ‘I stumbled upon a job vacancy for an assistant quality
job, and with that, I bought my first stock from Young’s Overcoming obstacles engineer at Doncaster Castings and, on the off-chance
Xxxx xxxx xxxxxx
brewery. I was a bit worried about spending all that Emma McConaghy is an employer partnership that I would be skilled enough, I went for the interview.
money, but it was either go for it or don’t do it at all – officer (EPO) at A4e Smethwick. Her role is to Luckily, I had a good day – and I got it.
and I’d rather take the chance. A4e gave me help and source the right kind of employment for the clients ‘The job opens up a lot of doors for me. The company
put me in touch with local business advisors. THE BIG once they’re ‘job-ready’. is planning to train me up to work in their entire business
‘On the first day, I was nervous about whether I’d sell NUMBERS ‘I establish what line of work the client is looking – it’s a fantastic opportunity. A4e gave me a lot of help
anything, but I did sell a few kits and business is picking 5.4% Current rate of for and see whether it’s realistic,’ she says. ‘I also with interview techniques beforehand. I wasn’t very
up. Every day is getting a little better, and people are unemployment in the UK find out what needs they have. A lot of our clients confident as I hadn’t been to an interview for ages, and
beginning to know I’m here. 6.3% The unemployment are returning to work as parents, and the biggest they really helped me with my communication skills.
‘I get so much self-satisfaction out of running my own rate in the West Midlands obstacle they have is childcare. ‘They also gave me a lot of support as to what I was
business. In the future, I’d like a couple of stalls and even 8% The rate of ‘I go out and source whatever childcare is entitled to from the job centre, such as the suit I wore to
a shop. I’m really happy that I gave it a go and I wouldn’t unemployment available in their area, and ensure they know how my interview – I never knew that I could get money for
change a thing. I’d never go back to being unemployed in Sandwell much money they will be getting once they’re off clothing.
again. This is it now – I’m going to make it work.’ 2.7% of people are benefits and working. ‘Having a new job is fantastic, it gives you a lot more
claiming benefit in the UK ‘Once they take control of their own finances, freedom. A4e have been really flexible and willing to
we help them with budgeting,’ she explains. ‘It’s no help. The best thing is that they don’t just get you a job
skills officer for Sandwell Council, says that the Getting engaged This is not good giving them just any job with the wrong hours and leave you alone – they carry on supporting you.
reason the programme works so well is because The A4e team manage the first part of the contract, or the wrong pay, because they’re not going to be It’s like having someone else
communication between the two companies is so called LACES (Local Adult Community Engagement just quick-fix able to sustain it.’ to back you up who’s got
clear. ‘If there’s a problem, we pick up the phone,’ Support). Based at the Smethwick Youth and McConaghy’s role is also to be there for the a lot more strength.’
she says. ‘Our mentors speak to A4e daily – it’s a Community Centre, it involves finding and engaging
training – we client when they start work. She and her team
very streamlined system.’ Once a client has found the clients and getting them interested in learning work out have devised incentives for the newly-employed
employment, they are mentored for the first 13 new skills. But a big part of the work sees A4e to keep in touch with their EPO, with initiatives
weeks of their new job to encourage them to stay in client advisors going out on the streets and finding the journey such as text-back competitions to win MP3
the role – and stay off the dole. potential candidates to work with. forward players and mobile phones top-up vouchers, as
Samantha Foy, contracts manager for A4e in Nanayaa King, 26, is an A4e client advisor based well as taking clients out for lunch.
Smethwick, West Midlands, explains why it’s so at the West Bromwich Afro Caribbean Centre. With Samantha foy, ‘Part of my job is being a friend to the client,’
A4e contracts
important to maintain regular contact with the a bubbly personality and plenty of experience manager
says McConaghy. ‘I’ve even visited them on
client. ‘It’s all about sustainability,’ she says. ‘There’s in working with jobseekers, she’s ideally suited a weekend to reassure them if they’re having
no set duration for the clients on the programme to the role of searching out suitable clients and a “wobble”. We have a really good connection
– we give them as much or as little support as they encouraging them to find their niche in the job with the employers, too, so if there’s any issues,
need. This is not just about quick-fix training to get market. Her role is to mentor clients through the the employer can contact me. We’re here to
people back into work – we look at personal issues first part of the programme, and to make sure their support the clients, so if we can help,
first, and work out the journey forward.’ needs are met. we will.’

22 blueprint autumn 2008 BLUEPRint autumn 2008 23


sessions with the clients, and balance that with using local childminders and nurseries, but we support
one-to-one support, gradually stepping back and them. If they were working they’d have to do the same,
pushing them very gently to build their confidence. so we try to make it as realistic as possible for them.
‘We encourage lots of support,’ says Allison, ‘and the We give them the opportunity to find out that they can
clients also support each other. It works really well.’ manage 16 hours working a week. If the childcare is
Being a single parent needn’t mean staying On Mondays there’s a drop-in service where people sorted out during the course, then by the time they get
can come in and discuss any issue they have or get a job, it’s no longer an issue. It’s a big boost for them.’
at home holding the baby – there are lots extra one-to-one support with things such as interview For Kitty, her time on the Elevate programme had a
of opportunities to get back to work, if techniques. Or they might simply drop in to meet up positive outcome. Her work placement began on the
with each other. By week four, the clients compile a reception desk at A4e, which didn’t suit her, so she
you know where to look wish list of jobs they think they’d like to do, and by started helping Allison with new Elevate clients. And
week five, Allison begins matching the clients to work when Allison was away, Kitty stepped in and covered
experience opportunities. ‘Most businesses are quite her role. As she puts it: ‘Us single parents don’t half

Home alone
receptive, and once I have explained what Elevate is all know how to organise things!’
about, they are willing to give people an opportunity.’ She now has a job as an A4e trainer, and absolutely
My kids loves it. ‘I’ve seen women coming in, unsure of
Child support themselves, and by the end of the course they’ve got
are so proud Issues such as finding childcare are helped by the their heads held high,’ she says. ‘My kids are so proud
staff at the centre. ‘The clients might be leaving their of me – it’s made a big difference. I wanted to show
of me – it’s children at home for the first time,’ says Allison. ‘The my kids that there’s a better life out there. I’d advise
made a big idea is that they sort out the childcare themselves anyone to go out and get a job.’

’m wicked with people,’ says Kitty Wright, 36. of the year. ‘My greatest hurdle was my own feelings,’
LONE PARENT Childcare is a major
A single mum from Sheffield with six children she says. ‘All I’ve done for the last 19 years is bring facts Kitty wright, issue for many of
SINGLE MUM AND Elevate’s clients.
– aged from 20 to six – she’d never had a my kids up, and I had pretty low self-esteem. So I
job until recently, and struggled with low started coming to Elevate classes and it gave me the • 70 per cent of single A4e trAINER
self-esteem for years. But thanks to a course designed confidence I needed. I thought: “It doesn’t matter how parents who aren’t in
to help lone parents back to work, Kitty now has a job many kids I’ve got, I can do this for myself.”’ work say lack of flexible
and even managed to take her family on holiday this The 13-week course is split up into six weeks hours is the biggest
year for the first time. ‘It was to Cleethorpes and it was spent in the centre, where clients are helped through barrier
lovely!’ she enthuses. personal issues and begin learning job-search skills, • 57 per cent of lone
The course – Elevate – is a programme that’s been followed by seven weeks on a work placement to give parents are currently
developed in the north of England by Jobcentre Plus them experience. Mentors gently help and encourage employed
and A4e, with the aim of encouraging single parents participants through the programme, giving them • One in four children live
back to work by helping boost their confidence, skills lots of support, until they feel that they’re ready for with a lone parent
and motivation. But not only that, it also helps them a work placement. • 1.8 million children in
overcome common barriers to getting back to work, ‘I really, really wanted a career, but because I had my the UK live in a workless
such as lack of childcare and self-belief. first child so young, I didn’t get the opportunity,’ says household
Kitty was at home alone with her children before Kitty. ‘I’d forgotten all my dreams about what I wanted • Nine out of 10 lone
she signed up to Elevate in Sheffield at the beginning to do when I grew up, but Elevate helped push me in parents are mothers
the right direction.’ • Elevate is one of a
Nine out of 10 lone
number of lone parent
parents are mothers. New challenge programmes run by A4e
Allison Clear, 42, is an Elevate trainer from Sheffield. in different parts of the
She ran the first Elevate pilot in Sheffield in May 2007 country.
and, since then, has been refining the programme to
reflect the clients’ needs. ‘I was a single parent and I
wanted a new challenge,’ she explains. ‘I thought that I
could really help people based on my own experience.
I know how you can lose confidence when you’re at
home raising children, especially when you’re out of
work for a while. I’m really good at motivating people,
so I thought I’d go for it.’ 
The biggest step for clients, says Allison, is walking
through the door.
‘Once they’ve done that, I tell them it gets much
easier.’ The staff carry out lots of group training

24 blueprint autumn 2008 blueprint autumn 2008 25

international: family programme

Keeping it in
the family
A mother and daughter took a new approach the time I had a so-called job as a cleaner.’

to job hunting and skills training when they And what was it like for you, Rebecca? Did you
have any reservations?
embarked on a new family programme in ‘Well, I had been on my school holiday and shortly
Gelsenkirchen, Germany after that I took my exams, so I really didn’t want to
go at all, but I did. When school started again, I went
to A4e in my free time. On Tuesday mornings, for
example, we always had the first four hours off, so I

he A4e Work First Family Programme is would go along to the centre. It was a lot of work, but
designed to help families where at least two it helped me a great deal.’
adults and young people in the household
are unemployed, aiming to bring family What did you learn during the programme,
members together to share goals, learn new skills and Rebecca?
find work. ‘At first, we spent most of our time having group
The programme is based on research showing discussions. And to tell you the truth, the other
that children in families where one or both parents families sometimes got on my nerves. But I learnt a
are unemployed find it particularly difficult to get lot, especially about how to prepare a job application.
their career started. Second and third generation We had been through that in Year Seven at school,
unemployment is common in Germany, which but the classes were not very effective. At A4e it
naturally impacts on the health and social lives of was different. They showed us how to make our
those families. CV more effective and presentable – we included
By helping parents find work and interacting with headers and footers and learnt, for example, that you
children at the same time, the A4e Work First Family could include graphics on your CV to attract more
programme can provide the whole family with a attention.’
more positive outlook on life. And not only that, but
they can also further their education together in a And how was it for you, Christa?
relaxed learning environment. Here, Christa, 43, and ‘She’s right! We learnt a lot. But at first I had to
Rebecca, 19, share their experiences. go home and get my papers in order, and collect
references and job certificates. Like I said, when
Christa, how did you get involved with the I came to A4e I never believed I would be able to
family programme? apply for a job. But the consultants showed me a
‘We were the programme’s very first group, together variety of job advertisements right from the very
with a Turkish family and a Polish family. The IAG beginning, even before I had finished preparing my
(Integrationscenter für Arbeit, employment centre) job application folders. So we just sent the companies
I was worried that my oldest encouraged us and said it would involve field trips, a fax of my CV – we didn’t want to miss out on a
along with training in computer skills and preparing a single chance.’
daughter would be unable to find work. job application.
At first I didn’t think I would ever be able to find a Rebecca, what kind of job did you want?
In Gelsenkirchen a lot of people are new job. But I wanted to learn something new. I had ‘I was hoping for a job in a hospital, and I even had
unemployed Christa kind of resigned myself to the way things were – at a job interview in Dusseldorf. But they told me I

26 blueprint autumn 2008 blueprint autumn 2008 27

international: family programme international: family programme

was too thin for the job and said that I wouldn’t be some kind of work, even if it was just cleaning for
physically able to do the hard work in the hospital. I €160 per month.’ PEILOT YNG NGHYMRU AR FLAEN
said that I would manage and that I wanted to give it Y GAD
a go, but I didn’t get the job. And actually, I’m sort of In Gelsenkirchen there are lots of unemployed Gan ddefnyddio’n sylfaen lwyddiant y rhaglen
glad about it now.’ young people. Rebecca, were you worried about yn yr Almaen, mae A4e Cymru newydd lansio’r
being unemployed? gwasanaeth cyntaf yn y Deyrnas Unedig sy’n
You were offered another job as a result of the ‘Oh sure, it was something I thought about and canolbwyntio ar ddod â theuluoedd cyfan allan o
programme. How are things going? was concerned about. A lot of kids hang out on the ddiweithdra ar yr un pryd
‘Yes, that’s right. I started professional training streets and have nothing. But also, I didn’t know
as a physician’s assistant in August, working in a what I wanted to do. Was what I was doing my true Ar hyn o bryd rhoddir peilot i fenter Gwaith yn Gyntaf i
dermatologist’s practice in Essen. I get up at 5.30am vocation, or was there another job I was more suited Deuluoedd A4e yng Nghasnewydd, ac mae’n ymgysylltu
every morning and take the bus to work at 7am, to? That was hard for me. We also had school field â theuluoedd ac aelwydydd lle mae yna isafrif o ddau o
which takes 20 minutes. I need some time alone for trips to vocational orientation fairs and universities oedolion a phobol ifanc yn ddi-waith.
myself in the morning, which is why I like to get up in the region, but for a long time I wasn’t sure what Yn ôl Phil Silverthorne, cyfarwyddwr gweithredol
a little earlier. I don’t mind it. Besides, I’m doing it to do. A4e Cymru, mae diweithdra teulu yn cael effaith gymde-
because I want to – I want to work. School was more ‘I had also heard a lot of horror stories in my circle ithasol ac ariannol mewn difrif. ‘I deuluoedd lle nad ydi’r
of an obligation, something I did because I had to.’ of friends about joblessness and I knew how hard it naill riant na’r llall yn gweithio, mae’r tebyg y bydd eu
could be – and unless you get up and do something, plant hefyd yn wynebu diweithdra hirdymor yn fwy
Families will benefit from the
You must be very pleased about your daughter’s it just gets more and more difficult. Some of the back to work pilot in Wales. na chymaint ddwywaith,’ meddai. ‘Mae hyn yn gallu
success, Christa. What was life like before? stories I heard were very discouraging, so I was arwain at dlodi plant a all barhau hyd nes y byddan nhw
‘As a mother, I was worried that my oldest daughter determined to make the most of the A4e programme.’ mewn oed.’
would be unable to find work. It’s difficult here
Nearly At hynny meddai Dirprwy Weinidog dros Sgiliau
in Gelsenkirchen – a lot of people are unemployed. Christa, you also found a new job – how did that Cynulliad Cymru John Griffiths, a gyhoeddodd y
But I also knew that she would do something. come about? Building on the success of the programme in a quarter rhaglen, fod agos i chwarter yr oedolion oed gweithio
That was the example I set for her. I always found ‘During the programme, a large municipal company yng Nghymru yn economaidd segur. ‘Hanfod menter
got in touch with me. I had submitted an application
Germany, A4e Wales has recently launched the of working- Gwaith yn Gyntaf i Deuluoedd A4e ydi cynnig ymateb
first service in the UK that focuses on getting whole
a year earlier, then they called me in May this year families out of unemployment at the same time. age adults ymarferol i broblem segurdod economaidd a drosglwyd-
I had heard a lot of and asked whether I was still interested in working dir o’r naill genhedlaeth i’r llall,’ meddai. ‘Gobeithio y
for them. I immediately said yes, and went in for The A4e Work First for Families initiative is currently
in Wales are bydd y peilot yn cyflawni ei amcan yn symud aelwydydd
horror stories in my an interview. being piloted in Newport, and engages with families economically o ddiweithdra i waith ystyrlon.’
circle of friends about ‘But all of a sudden, things weren’t so clear and households where there are a minimum of two Rhoddir i bob teulu ar y rhaglen un o gynghorwyr
anymore. The personnel manager told me she unemployed adults and young people. inactive swyddi teulu A4e fydd yn cynnig cefnogaeth a chyngor
joblessness doubted whether I was up to the difficult work According to Phil Silverthorne, executive director of John Griffiths, i’r teulu i gyd. Gan ddibynnu ar yr unigolyn, fe’u rhod-
rebecca because I’m overweight. I said I was absolutely A4e Wales, family unemployment has a very real social welsh assembly dir ar un o raglenni cefnogaeth A4e, megis Dysgu yn y
positive I could do it, and that I had been cleaning and financial impact. ‘For families where neither parent deputy minister Gwaith, Bargen Newydd – sy’n gweithio gyda phobol
professionally for 15 years. I really wanted the job. is working, the likelihood of their children also facing for skills ifanc, oedolion a phobol anabl – neu Llwybrau
‘Luckily, it worked out. They offered me an long-term unemployment is more than doubled,‘ he i Waith, sy’n gweithio gyda phobol ar
initial one year part-time contract, and said. ‘This can lead to child poverty that can continue fudd-dal analluogrwydd i’w helpu
I had a physical examination at the into adulthood.’ nhw i ddod o hyd i swydd ac sy’n
public health office. If everything The Welsh Assembly’s deputy minister for skills, John cefnogi eu symud
goes well, there’s a good Griffiths, announced the programme. He added that i’r gweithle.
chance they’ll extend my job nearly a quarter of working-age adults in Wales are
contract. At the moment I’m economically inactive. ‘The A4e Work First for Families
working between 18 and 39 initiative is about providing a practical response to the
hours per week.’ problem of generational economic inactivity,’ he said.
‘I hope the pilot achieves its aim in moving households
from unemployment to meaningful employment.’
Each family on the programme will be allocated an
Christa and Rebecca attend
A4e’s Work First Family A4e family job councillor who will provide support
programme in Gelsenkirchen.
and advice to the whole family. Depending on the
individual, they will be placed on one of A4e’s existing
support programmes, such as Work-Based Learning, minister
New Deal – which works with young people, adults and John
disabled people – or Pathways to Work, which works left, with
with people on incapacity benefit to help them find a A4e’s Phil
job and supports their move into the workplace. and Brian

28 blueprint autumn 2008 blueprint autumn 2008 29

international: poland international: poland

ith the Polish economy booming, partly slowly, according to Martin Oxley, CEO of the British autumn, is set in Szczecin, an industrial city in north- A4e supports them in compiling letters, CVs and
thanks to European Union accession, Polish Chamber of Commerce in Warsaw. west Poland which borders Germany. According finding work. Finally, when the client is ready, they
it should be a time of plenty for the ‘What we need the Polish government to do to Martin, Szczecin is ‘a ship building centre in the are either sent on a work experience placement to get
Poles. After all, with a fast-growing is appreciate the problem and create the right wrong place at a difficult time’. The city has significant a feel for their new working environment or else sent
consumer market, events such as the UEFA Cup Final environment for the employment experts to get to unemployment in the outlying areas, so A4e’s task is on vocational training courses. ‘We find out what the
arriving in 2012, and huge potential for future growth,
Poland ought to be seen as a desirable country for
work,’ he said. ‘That’s happening, but slowly. Pressure
is building for more radical action.’
We believe to prepare people for employment in new industries
which are establishing themselves in the area.
clients want to do and send them on courses suited
to that,’ said Katarzyna. ‘For instance, they may want
investment. In fact, 1.6 million jobs will be created by And when you consider that Poland has the highest that the Also due to begin in the autumn, the second to become shop assistants, security guards or go into
the time Poland becomes the UEFA host country. number of people out of work in Europe, it’s clear that programme, which is similar in terms of course secretarial work. We take the approach of first getting
But instead of being able to sit back and reap the action is needed. But help is at hand, thanks to a new
unemployed content, will run in Zabrze, southern Poland. It’s a city to know the clients before we organise training.’
rewards, the country faces problems in the wake programme set up by A4e Polska. person is like which is at the heart of the Polish coal mining industry, Expectations for both programmes are encouraging.
of large-scale unemployment and job gaps where Katarzyna Ostapowicz, 26, lives in Warsaw and and until recently, it had 13 mines. Now it has just six. A4e Polska has stated it hopes to get 30 per cent of
unskilled workers are simply unable to fill vacant helped to set up A4e Polska two years ago. Thanks to a pearl for ‘This area is not only the heartland of Polish coal unemployed people back to work, but the real aim is
roles. The problem is worse for the over-50s; since the the hard work of Katarzyna and her colleagues, the the employer, and steel, it also has the largest and most dynamic much higher than that. Katarzyna said: ‘We want to
demise of industries such as ship building, mining company has recently received funding to start two special economic zone in Poland,’ explained change society, and we want people to know we do
and steel works, the majority of people available for programmes to help the long-term unemployed – in if the match- Martin. ‘There is a massive opportunity for A4e everything to help them find a new place in society, in
work are not skilled in the areas which need workers. other words, those who have been out of work for to prepare people for re-employment and an even work and in life.’
In fact, only one in four people over the age of 50 is in 12 months in a 24-month period – learn the skills
making is bigger opportunity to establish a “train to gain” type Overleaf: 10 questions to the chief executive of the
employment. What’s more, there is limited vocational necessary to get back to work. done properly vocational, accredited training initiative. This is South British-Polish Chamber of Commerce.
training in Poland, coupled with very little experience ‘The programmes offer the same type of activities Yorkshire all over again, 20 years later.’
in preparing people for employment in a market that A4e offers in the UK,’ said Katarzyna. ‘The first Ostapowicz, Both programmes are funded by the European
economy. one is aimed at helping people through a range of A4e polska Social Fund (ESF), with the initial contracts lasting 14 SO WHAT’S DIFFERENT?
complex situations, and is tailored to the individual. months and 20 months. If the programmes go well, While ‘back to work’ programmes are by no means
Making a change It has 300 unemployed people on it, 20 of whom are the hope is to extend the programmes with the aim of unique, A4e’s approach in Poland is. ‘We work
If the situation were to continue, there might be little disabled. ‘The second programme will have 350 clients, helping even more people to get back to work. with the clients and provide training, but the most
hope for Poland’s unemployed, despite the fact that and is set in a typical post-industrial, post-mining area. important thing is that we reach the whole person,’
the Polish government is trying to provide the funding Here, the clients will be in a worse position to start off Supporting role said Ostapowicz. ‘We have recruiters whom we call
necessary for employment experts to make a change. with because of the history of the town.’ Both programmes run for 26 weeks, and begin by “pearl divers”, and the clients have contact with
The problem is that the changes are happening too The first programme, which will begin in the engaging the clients. ‘People here will tell you that it’s them throughout the programme. The pearl divers
hard to engage people, but I don’t agree – I think it’s encourage employers to give work placements or

A new horizon
just a misperception,’ said Katarzyna. vacancies. We believe that the unemployed person is
‘So far, people have only been helped by public like a pearl for the employer, if the match-making is
institutions such as the public labour office, and done properly.’
while they would have received some help from Another unique aspect of the programmes is giving
personal advisers, they don’t get the individual people support once they have found work. ‘This is
support that they would from A4e. ‘We give the new to Poland,’ said Ostapowicz. ‘No one else does
clients one-to-one time where we work on getting them it here. When a client signs a work contract, they can
While there may be jobs-a-plenty in post-industrial Poland, finding interested and enthusiastic about the programme, so still come to the centre if they have any problems.
skilled workers able to fill the roles is becoming a problem that they want to stay on the programme.’ Their advisers stay in touch with them to make sure
The course progresses to teach clients the skills that they stay in work. That’s our aim – work first.’
they might need for future employment, and then

30 blueprint autumn 2008 31

In decline... traditional heavy
industry is providing fewer
jobs in Poland.

10 in ten
Martin Oxley, chief executive of the
British-Polish Chamber of Commerce,
answers our 10 quick-fire questions

1 Tell us about the economic situation

in Poland
Poland’s economy is currently enjoying strong
growth. European accession has helped and there
is lots of potential for further growth as the country
is one of the largest and poorest of the recent 6 Why are A4e’s Polish programmes so
accession countries. The market economy is less The recent programme wins by A4e are fantastic news
than 20 years old. for Poland. They have the potential to become icons of
employment excellence in two very difficult markets.

2 What are the challenges facing the

Polish economy? Martin Oxley believes A4e’s
experience of getting people 7 Describe the two areas that will
One of the biggest challenges facing the country into work will be hugely
beneficial in helping to cut
is preparing people for employment. The unemployment in Poland. Zabrze is right at the heart of the Polish coal mining
unemployment rate has halved over the last three industry and has just six mines – until recently,
years from 20 per cent to under 10 per cent. Now, it had 13. Sczcecin is a similar challenge: in the
1.6m jobs have been created in the private sector, outlying areas, there is significant unemployment.
1.6m people have left the country and with a

fast-growing consumer market, Poland is and will What are your predictions for the future of Poland’s
continue to be a roller coaster of change. employment market?

3 How will this affect the profile of With its booming economy, Poland is on the verge of an employment crunch.
Poland’s job market? The people-shortages can only get worse as full EU-worker mobility approaches
and the country’s structural regeneration programmes develop apace. A4e is
The country is already facing job gaps in key sectors, coming to Poland just at the right time – there are many opportunities.
yet Poland has one of the highest populations
available for work in the whole of Europe.

4 What is the Polish government doing to encourage

full employment?
9 How can A4e’s experience help?
Firstly, with its expert consultancy in policy
planning and implementation, A4e has massive
The Polish government is rapidly realising it has a problem on its hands. Already international experience in getting people into work.
we are seeing a downturn in foreign direct investment; there is a risk of inflation Many of the issues faced in the UK at the end of
and Polish corporates are having to turn away sales through lack of staff. the era of heavy industry are the same in Poland.
The policy issues associated with creating an active
labour market across Europe are applicable in
Poland. A4e has the experience to contribute here.
A4e has massive international experience Secondly, with large-scale employment enabling
in getting people into work programmes, because it is very important to bridge
public and private sector needs to quickly get more
people into work.

5 What can A4e do to help prepare

people for the changing job market?
There is great opportunity for A4e to establish itself
as a leader in the employment services market with
10 How can A4e benefit Poland in
the long-term?
a combination of employment, vocational training By promoting lifelong professional orientation
and ongoing professional development. and development – it’s a superb opportunity. Very
A4e is well-placed to help solving one of Poland’s limited vocational development takes place in
biggest short-term challenges, which is finding and Poland, and the industry is already suffering from a
preparing people to fill the increasing skills gap. lack of market-focused education.

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