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Events and news from around the world


Emma Harrison, A4e Chairman, looks forward
to the challenges of the new year

How youngsters in
Stockton are being
given a chance
to learn valuable 23 20
vocational skills


We look at one scheme that has helped a Free legal advice is making life easier for
once-homeless client to gain skills as a chef the citizens of Hull


A Doncaster team had their lives turned Michael Davis, Managing Director of CFE, on
upside down by the arrival of a Channel 4 employment and skills policies
documentary team
Mark Lovell, A4e Executive Chairman, on The creation and growing importance of
how to ride out the credit crunch A4e Australia


A financial training scheme is helping How a programme in
youngsters to stay out of debt France is giving job
opportunities to those
FREEDOM OF CHOICE 18 in deprived areas
We look at how being able to choose
and employ carers is changing the 10 IN TEN 28
lives of disabled people Pam Kenworthy, Legal Director of Howells
Direct, answers our quick-fire questions

Flexible New Deal (FND) Update

A4e welcomes the changes that Flexible New Deal will bring. These changes mean that we
can spend more time with marginalised and harder-to-help people, developing individual,
tailored programmes to enable their return to work.
Tenders have now been submitted for Phase 1 FND contract areas – thanks to those of you that
have expressed an interest in working in partnership with us. We are now looking forward to
Phase 2 and would again welcome any organisation who wishes to work with us.
We will shortly be setting up a registration process for FND Phase 2 at: We will also be contacting all
organisations who have registered previously to invite them to express
interest in the districts covered by Phase 2.
Please keep checking the site for updates, and we look forward to
working with you in the future.

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up front: contents

From the editor

Group development

elcome to the new year issue of
Blueprint, which you’ll find packed
with all the latest goings-on within
A4e, as well as important issues
that surround the business. I hope that you’ll enjoy
reading about what’s happening in various sectors
of A4e, and how we’re continuing to help people get success stories have resulted from the Pathways to
Helping back to the jobs – and lives – they deserve. Work programme, part of which A4e is delivering.
You’ll also notice that there’s a new face in town. Elsewhere, one of our teams in Doncaster was in
those from I’m very pleased to have taken the reins from Sara for a nice surprise – and more than just 15 minutes
McKee, who has moved on to pastures new. Many of fame – when a Channel 4 documentary maker
less fortunate thanks to Sara for all her hard work and dedication chose the team to star in a film about the welfare
backgrounds – I can only hope to make as good an impression
on A4e as Sara has over the years. We wish Sara the
system. Doncaster’s Elevate team was selected to
appear in the documentary after Elevate Trainer,
is at the core very best of luck in her new job. Hayley Taylor, made a great impression on the
You’ll have been hard-pressed to escape the ups series producer. He felt that Hayley had the energy
of A4e’s and downs of the economy over the last few months and passion to inspire her clients – all of whom are
– and, as such, this issue of Blueprint focuses fairly lone parents – to get back into work and training.
ethics heavily on making the best of what can only be You can read their fascinating story on page 12, and
described as difficult economic conditions. A4e’s find out what it was really like to be in front of the
Executive Chairman, Mark Lovell, talks about how camera for weeks on end!
to help businesses survive the recession, and why Finally, we’re delighted that A4e Australia is
it’s even more important to support A4e’s more taking shape – we’re currently pitching for contracts,
vulnerable clients. Read more on page 15. and hope to receive news later in the year as to
Helping those from less fortunate backgrounds whether we’ve been selected to run them. Find out
is at the core of A4e’s business ethics, and we were more about the business, and the issues that A4e
delighted to read the story of one of our Pathways Australia is tackling, on page 23.
clients who became an apprentice chef – having Enjoy the issue!
been homeless, and never previously having a job.
You can read his story on page nine, along with that
of Anna Rayner, who overcame depression to train
as a complementary therapist. Anna now runs her
own business, and also works from various other
complementary therapy centres, too. Both of these

produced by: Cambridge Publishers Ltd (

group Development director:

Jo Blundell, A4e

To contribute to Blueprint, contact Jo Blundell 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.

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up front: round-up

Plymouth £2.5 million Getting down
programme goes live to business
Business start-ups are The exhibition
not limited to those attracted more than
within mainstream 2,500 visitors from all
industries, as one A4e backgrounds, in care
team found out when and medical disciplines.
they attended the Kidz Many new
Up North exhibition entrepreneurs who
at the Reebok Stadium attended may end up
in Bolton. working within the NHS/
Sarah Whittaker, PCT arena as carers,
Mark Fegan and Robert advisors and in other
Clark from A4e’s NDDP social enterprises, while a
Connect to Work number of delegates are
team, based in Preston, actively seeking to start
attended the exhibition, businesses in a
A £2.5 million European A4e Plymouth Works completion of job and together with Neil number of more
Social Fund programme Plus advisors will offer e-applications. Allday, Matthew Slack specialist fields.
to develop employment one-to-one support to Anyone aged between and Ray Parkes from ‘We are now in the
and skills opportunities clients in areas including: 16 and 65, who works Business Start Up. process of working with
in the South West’s information; advice and fewer than eight paid Kidz Up North a number of females who
biggest city has gone guidance; sourcing and hours a week, will be targeted children with attended the exhibition.
live in Plymouth. funding of educational eligible to apply for a disabilities – both They are looking to
A4e Plymouth Works and vocational training; share of the £2.5 million mental and physical – start a riding school
Plus held a prestigious voluntary work; soft cash pot, whether to enrol which is not an obvious for disabled children, a
launch with Job Centre skills development; on a new employment group to look towards school for children with
Plus at the Copthorne low motivation; course or for some when considering special needs and also
Hotel to highlight confidence; job skills; new kit to start a job, business start-up a sensory play centre
the benefits of the CV creation; interview according to Carol Boyd, opportunities. for blind/deaf children
programme over the techniques; setting up Contract Co-ordinator at ‘Our target audience or older children with
next 36 months. email accounts; and the Plymouth Works Plus. was not the children, mental health issues,’
but the occupational said Allday.
therapists and other ‘With a little foresight,
Training for over-50s welcomed health professionals
that look after the
the less obvious
marketing strategy often
The first major project the planning of the and flexibility. children,’ said Allday. bears the best fruits
to test demand for government’s new Employees were ‘Many go on to become and opens new markets
careers advice and Adult Advancement surprised that anyone self-employed carers, for the Business Start
training among older and Careers Service, was interested in their for example.’ Up enterprise.’
people in work has and for its Train to Gain needs, but when the
just finished in the programme. service was offered,
south east of England. Responses from they grasped it with
Over two years, employers and enthusiasm.
the project, called employees were very Two thirds of them
ReGrow, provided positive. More than said that they were
careers advice and 80 per cent of firms able to do their jobs
follow-up training to identified benefits from better, half planned to
1,139 people aged over the advice and training, take further training,
50 working across the and more than half of and a third said they
region. employers said that it would probably stay
It has important had increased workers’ in work longer as
implications for motivation, productivity a result.

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up front: view from the chair

Somerset celebrates
employability skills New year, new
Celebrating the by everyone. The
achievements of 30 A4e Employability
clients who gained new programme is funded
qualifications in literacy by the Learning and
and maths, the A4e Skills Council. The 15-

Taunton office recently week voluntary course hen I get back to my desk after the
had a visit from local starts from entry levels festivities – usually having over-
MP Jeremy Browne, who one, two and three, and indulged, but also having caught up
was able to see how the then goes on to level with all my family and friends – I like
LSC Employability Skills one and two (GCSE) to focus on the way ahead. I really believe you need
programme was working qualifications. to recognise the achievements of the previous year
in the town. Browne said: ‘I am and use them as the platform on which to build the
Organisers for the very impressed by successes we will see in the new year.
A4e LSC programme the dedication of the This year is definitely not without its challenges.
at Victoria House in tutors and staff at A4e We heard in December from the Secretary of State,
Taunton are keen that, Taunton. And those out James Purnell MP, about the drive for further welfare
when clients pass their of work for long periods Emma Harrison reform in his White Paper, and the desire to help
15 week studies, it is are getting the support Chairman, A4e more people get the skills they need to get back into
officially recognised they need.’ work. A4e’s mission is to improve people’s lives, and
I firmly believe that we can help thousands more
people achieve their goals and build their future.
news in brief However, we’re all expecting a tough year with the
WELCOME TO Scotland; and Information economic downturn and rising unemployment, but
THE TEAM Manager for one of the
Business Gateway areas in
You need to it is more important than ever that we don’t leave
Evelyn Rimmer has recently anyone behind. Let’s not forget, most of the clients
joined A4e as Enterprise
Scotland. She
began her career in sales
recognise the we support are long-term unemployed with more
Development Manger,
barriers than most to overcome. But that’s where we
to support and develop
and administration, while also
running her own marketing
achievements need to be even more creative and innovative in our
enterprise project delivery
across the company.
of the previous approach – and that’s what A4e people are really
Evelyn has more than good at.
17 years’ experience of Israel in the year to build
spotlight With the fantastic team at A4e, we’ve been able to
developing and delivering
start-up and business A Labour Friends of Israel
(LFI) event was held at the
successes in grow a small training business from Sheffield into
support projects, most an international social purpose company. We’ve
recently working for a UK- House of Lords recently, which
brought together politicians,
the new year entered new markets in Israel, Germany, France and
wide housing association
(Places for People). Her role academics, charities and the Emma Harrison Poland – and who knows, we might start improving
while there was to develop think-tank community. The people’s lives in Australia this year! We’ve also seen
and deliver community- topic for discussion was the changes in our staff, and I’d like to thank everyone
based enterprise projects evolution of the New Deal
for their fantastic contribution and welcome all new
in Manchester, Bradford, in Israel and the UK. Guest
Leeds, Edinburgh and speakers included James arrivals to A4e. You have my full support.
Newcastle. These provided Purnell MP, Secretary of So let’s put our best foot forward, and embrace
intensive start-up support to State for Work and Pensions; the change and challenges ahead of this year. With
disadvantaged communities David Blunkett MP, Chair
and member of the LFI policy
all these new horizons, together we can make a real
through awareness-raising The A4e team in Australia
events, workshops and one- council; Mark Lovell, A4e is set to be busy this year. difference in 2009.
to-one support. She was also Executive Chairman, and
part of the winning team for Dr Jason Elis.
the Housing Corporation’s Members of the audience
‘Gold Award for Tackling found it interesting to hear
Worklessness’ earlier this year. about Israel’s domestic
Evelyn’s past roles policy challenges and how
include working for Wellpark they compare to Britain’s,
Enterprise Centre in Glasgow, while other attendees said
where she managed the that Mark Lovell’s comments
development programme for were extremely relevant
women-owned businesses; to their work on British
InBiz as Area Manager in domestic policy.

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focus on: vocational training

Turning a
Having issues at school can lead some
youngsters down the wrong path in
life – but for the lucky ones, learning in
a vocational centre can give them the Some youngsters who are excluded from school
or struggle with mainstream provision carry their
skills they so badly need feelings of worthlessness with them throughout
their lives, and never regain the confidence to make

hile being in full-time education something of themselves. However, various schemes
is a good thing for most young that have been set up across the UK are designed to
people, it doesn’t suit everyone. train excluded youngsters in vocational centres.
There are times when learning in an The Vox Centre in Stockton on Tees, which
environment in which you feel an outsider or as if was opened by A4e in September 2008, was the
you’re not gaining much can be counter-productive, brainchild of Vox Centre Manager, Lee Beresford.
and that’s when problems arise. Designed to provide ‘first steps’ training to

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focus on: vocational training

youngsters aged ‘real world’ business.

The girls from the Vox Centre
enjoy learning practical skills on
14-19, who require an the hair and beauty course. ‘A4e has invested
alternative education heavily in providing a
to school that better first-class vocational
suits their learning facility to support
style, the students the needs of young
gain experience and people whom we are
qualifications thanks passionate about
to vocational training. improving the lives
The idea is to enable of,’ said Sally Orlopp,
young people to Director of Education
become better-prepared for A4e.
for post-16 life, be it in ‘We feel we can add
further employment, value for young people
training or by becoming by offering a different
one of the area’s future range of provision
entrepreneurs. with the key being
‘I felt that there was partnership working,
a gap in the market which in return
for vocational training adds value.’
locally,’ said Beresford, The youngsters are
who had the vision to take the idea forward referred from 14 different schools throughout the
after putting the concept to the A4e senior Tees Valley, as well as from referral agencies, and
management team. consist of a mix of mainstream and non-mainstream
After consultation with Stephen Lidgard, who pupils. When the centre opened in September, it
is in charge of A4e’s vocational centre provision welcomed 30 young people – now, it has 112. A4e
nationwide, the Stockton facility was based on the currently has six members of staff based at the
ground-breaking Grimsby model. centre, while a further two are due to be employed
In-depth consultations were undertaken with shortly. Charlotte McCann, a Year 11 pupil who’s
schools in Tees Valley via the Education Business
Partnership to find out what young people really
needed and where they needed it. Gaps that were
identified both geographically and in skills provision Some youngsters who are excluded from
highlighted the need for vocational training in
areas such as retail, construction, catering, and
school carry their feelings of worthlessness with
hair and beauty. them throughout their lives, and never regain the
Real world
confidence to make something of themselves
The Vox Centre aims to provide a programme that is
flexible, inclusive and inspirational to cater for every Based on a business park,
student’s specific needs. the youngsters benefit
from the experience of
The fact that the centre is located on a ‘real world’ other companies.
business park, shoulder-to-shoulder with a diverse
range of companies, makes it different to other
vocational centres in the area. It also adds value
to the experience for the youngsters taking part,
meaning that they are working side by side with real-
life businesses and benefiting from the knowledge
and experience of the people around them.
The centre provides meaningful alternative
education for the young people of the Tees Valley,
and eventually, it will be open to the public to give
the students a real taste of working life. What’s
more, it’s currently the only vocational centre in
the area offering retail training. Future plans also
include master classes involving local entrepreneurs,
further enhancing the youngsters’ experience of

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focus on: vocational training

currently studying hair and beauty at the Vox would boost the local economy. He also wanted to
Centre, is over the moon that she’s been able to put something back into the community.
do something that she’s interested in. ‘It’s the best ‘It is amazing what young people in the area
thing out of the whole of education that has ever are capable of achieving,’ he said. ‘A4e is giving
happened to me,’ she said. Referred by New Start, youngsters the opportunity to see the real world of
Charlotte is thoroughly enjoying her vocational business, as well as giving companies the chance to
training. ‘If you ever get the chance to attend the integrate with the workforce of the future.
Vox Centre, then I really recommend it!’ she added. ‘We can see that by working in partnership with
The Vox Centre’s facilities are flexible and can A4e, we are really helping to improve the prospects
also provide opportunities for working with a of young people in the Tees Valley area.’
diverse range of client groups, from young people to
harder-to-reach adults.
Because vocational centres offer a service so Making your mark
unique to excluded pupils, a further centre is due National Enterprise Week, part of Global
to be opened in Leeds in early 2009. More are Entrepreneurship week, is a national celebration
planned across the UK, with the aim of having 10 of enterprise in November with events organised
vocational centres by the end of 2010. A4e currently It is all over the UK. During the week, more than 2,000
have similar centres in Grimsby, Pontefract, West amazing what organisations run events and activities to encourage
Bromwich and Mansfield.
young people
Key player
Local businessman Nasser Din, Managing Director
are capable
of Supreme Property Developments Limited, had the of achieving.
vision to develop the business park in partnership
with Stockton Council via European funding. A4e is giving
Nasser Din was a key player in supporting the so many
project. He recognised that to sustain the future
workforce in the area, he needed to help young youngsters the
people to gain the right employability skills.
This, he reasoned, would help improve the
performance of local businesses, which in turn to see the
real world of
Youngsters get a taste
of real working life at
the Vox Centre.
Nasser Din,
Supreme Property

people to make their ideas come alive – this could be

something such as starting a new business or social
enterprise, or making new ideas happen in
the workplace.
It’s crucial to encourage people to make their
way in business – with the economic situation in the
UK on something of a knife-edge, having the skills,
knowledge and a can-do attitude to work is more
important than ever. Those who can implement
ideas, overcome challenges and possess the skills
to spot opportunities often fare best when there’s
pressure on jobs. And creating a culture where
youngsters have the confidence to make their
mark on the world means that people from any
background will have the opportunity to unleash their
ambition on the business world. For more details,

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at the sharp end: patHways to work

Taking a going back to work can be hard when

you’ve been on incapacity benefit – but
one scheme is helping people do just that

new direction
nna Rayner spent several years on
incapacity benefit – she’d suffered from
depression and anxiety for several years,
her motivation was at an all-time low and
she didn’t know where to turn. But after conquering
her illness with the help of alternative therapies
such as aromatherapy, reiki and mediation, she soon
felt ready to return to work.
Having visited the Disability Employment Adviser
at her local Jobcentre Plus, she was pointed in the
direction of the Pathways to Work scheme run
by A4e, where staff helped Anna to identify her
interests. It was there that she realised her future lay
within the realm of complementary therapies.
A year later, with the support of Pathways, Anna
gained the relevant qualifications and experience and
now runs her own complementary therapy practice
‘It’s really amazing what you can do with the right
support,’ says Anna. ‘The last year has taught me that
you are never on your own, and that help is there if
you need it, regardless of your circumstances.
‘I feel completely different from how I did a couple
of years ago,’ she adds. ‘A lot of people want to start
a business and never get round to it – but you’ve got
to be a risk-taker to be an entrepreneur. I feel as if I
have developed as a person and I know myself much
better now. From feeling low in confidence and self-
esteem, people are now coming to me for advice.’

Vital support
Pathways To Work is an independent service for
people in receipt of incapacity-related benefits. It
provides impartial advice, training and support to
those out of work, to help and encourage them to
find employment in an area that they’re suited to.
While some clients are referred from their local
Jobcentre Plus, others come to Pathways directly.
Kate Goodman, National Pathways Director for A4e,
explains some of the difficulties that the Pathways
clients face.
‘Our customer group is still judged by many
because of the way they look, by the benefit they are
on or by the condition we label them with,’ she says.

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feature: offender management

Jason Burns, Training for Life Manager at Dartmouth Apprentice.

‘This can lead to our customers feeling ashamed, Building relationships

embarrassed or unable to be open about their Steve Carter is an Employer Engagement Consultant
circumstances and desires. from A4e Pathways in Torquay. His main role is to
‘We have had customers who have not been go out and source job vacancies, meet potential
specific on their CVs about their condition, the employers and build good relationships with them.
employer has subsequently discovered this and it However, he does get involved in the client side of
has resulted in the person being dismissed – not the service, too, and recently managed to secure a
because they weren’t doing a good job, but because homeless client a place as a trainee chef at a new
they had lied in order to get the job. Would this have venture called Dartmouth Apprentice. Similar to
happened if they had added an A-level or two, or said Jamie Oliver’s 15 restaurant, Dartmouth Apprentice
that they had lots of hobbies in order to look good? trains unemployed young people while they work
‘What makes my job worthwhile is when you alongside professional chefs in the restaurant.
see people’s lives turning around, that point when They gain hospitality industry qualifications, and
somebody realises that they are not useless and that at the end of their apprenticeships, they get help
Former Pathways client
they have a lot to offer. Our Pathways teams really Anna Rayner is now a
to find jobs.
do make a difference, and I’m really proud of them.’ complementary therapist. Twenty nine-year-old Lee Harvey was homeless and
jobless when he came to Torquay Pathways – he’d
fled from County Durham with his girlfriend due to
difficult circumstances, and was living in a tent in
Brixham, Devon. Steve Carter, co-incidentally, had
What makes my job worthwhile is when you just heard about Dartmouth Apprentice when Lee
see people’s lives turning around, that point when arrived in the office, and decided to try to get Lee
on the scheme.
somebody realises that they have a lot to offer ‘Not only was Lee homeless, but he’d also got a
kate goodman, national pathways director for a4e criminal record having been in prison four times,

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at the sharp end: pathways to work

he’d been on drugs, and had never worked in his life,’

says Carter. ‘A lot of people would have written him
off, but I wasn’t going to.’
Carter met up with staff at the newly opened
Dartmouth Apprentice and managed to arrange an
interview for Lee. ‘We sorted out some new clothes
for Lee, and the other Employment Coaches in the
office were brilliant – they ironed them, turned up
the trousers, and got Lee ready for his interview.
Thankfully, Lee was accepted.
‘It took up a lot of my time and affected my targets,
but I wasn’t worried about that,’ he continues. ‘We
then had problems finding Lee and his girlfriend

A lot of people want to start a business

and never get round to it – but you’ve got
to be a risk-taker to be an entrepreneur
Anna Rayner, former Pathways client

accommodation. Dartmouth is very smart, and

there’s no run-down bedsits that you can rent
cheaply. We got talking to Dartmouth Homeless
Trust and managed to borrow some of the money
needed for a deposit for a flat, and borrowed the
remainder from A4e – which Lee is paying back. ‘It’s been a great success. Lee loves it – he’s even
The first day they moved in, I bought them some doing double shifts. He’s hoping to train to be a chef
groceries and helped them with essentials, and then and really enjoys getting up and going to work – it’s
Lee started work. just transformed him. I’m so proud of him.’

case study: ‘my life has

really changed’
Lee Harvey, 29, was homeless and jobless
before being accepted as an apprentice at
Dartmouth apprentice

‘I started at Dartmouth Apprentice in September 2008 – I’d

never done anything like that before. The work has been
going brilliantly, and I’m a lot further along than when I first
joined. I’ve been preparing the meals, and I’m also looking
forward to getting my catering qualifications, which I hope
to be doing soon.
‘I’ve even got my own starter on the menu at the
restaurant – it’s a sandwich with Parma ham, salami,
mushrooms and mozzarella cheese, and it’s going down a
storm. A lot of people are ordering it.
‘My life has changed a heck of a lot over the past few
months. Before I started here, I wasn’t working and I was
always getting into trouble. But thanks to A4e and the
Dartmouth Apprentice, I’ve been able to do something
useful. I’m really grateful to them all.’

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Feature A documentary on Doncaster Elevate

Their 15 minutes of fame...

Being picked to be part of a TV documentary But what was the idea behind the documentary
in the first place? Series Producer Fergus O’Brien
is a distant dream for most of us – but for a wanted to make three films looking at welfare
provision in the UK from top to bottom, and see
team in Doncaster, it became a reality how government policy is formulated and then

implemented through senior civil servants in charge
don’t do handouts here,’ says Carolyn of procurement.
Kendrick, Business Manager for A4e ‘The reason I’m so excited about it is that it’s been
Doncaster. ‘What we do is teach our about 12 years since anything’s been done on TV
learners to support themselves and find on the welfare system, and so much has changed
their own way to the life they want.’ in the role of companies who are now actively
It’s this kind of philosophy on which A4e involved,’ he says. ‘I wanted to see how that would
Doncaster has based its skills courses that help get trickle down the departments, and also how the
the unemployed back into work or training. And the private sector get involved.
teaching of these courses is so good that it recently ‘The main thrust of the documentary is the
attracted a Channel 4 documentary team to the human angle – the emotional stories of people
Client Dawn Schofield gets
offices. The stars of the programme, all of whom a real taste for work.
who are trying to get back into the workplace,
were involved in Doncaster’s Elevate course, will either because they want to, or because they feel
appear on TV in the autumn. that there’s some sort of growing pressure due to
Elevate is an A4e course which helps lone parents the changes in welfare legislation to get working. I
get back to work. It starts off by building up the wanted to follow their journey.’
clients’ confidence and motivation, before working
on issues each client might have experienced in
the past – such as problems with interviews or
personal issues. Once the client feels ready and I was so nervous – once your words are recorded
has identified an area of work they’d like to go into,
work placements are arranged for seven weeks and on camera, you can’t go back and re-phrase them
the client is supported throughout. Hayley Taylor, elevate tutor

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Feature: DoncAster eleVAte in the spotlight

A4e trainer, Hayley

Taylor, helps to
motivate Elevate
client Yvette Brown.

A real experience terms of a TV programme, you need something

For Elevate Tutor Hayley Taylor, the experience of that looks very proactive, that gets the clients
being shadowed by a camera crew for six weeks involved. It was apparent to us very quickly when
was nerve racking, but exciting. ‘I got a call from we visited Hayley that she had a real energy and
the producers saying that they were making a passion for what she was doing which was quite
programme for Channel 4, and they arranged to infectious – and we knew that the camera would
come up and visit. Then about two weeks later, pick up on that.’
they rang to ask if they could film one of my The clients, despite the fact that they were all
Elevate courses! out of work and many had been away from the
‘At the time, I was very nervous, especially job market for some time, rose to the challenge.
when they were filming the classes. They According to Taylor, they knew from day one that
would ask me questions and I’d have to think there would be a film crew around, and yet they still
on my feet all the time and come up with the turned up for classes and came on board.
Elevate client answers you’d hope you’d say – but you never ‘The clients loved it,’ she says. ‘If anything, the
Lyndsey Ward
gets busy actually know what’s going to come out until crew boosted them even more. They felt that if they
during her
work placement
you say it! Once your words are recorded on could deal with that kind of intrusion, they could
at Doncaster camera you can’t go back and re-phrase them.’ deal with anything.
For Fergus O’Brien, Hayley Taylor was ‘A couple of clients explained to me that they
just the person he was looking for. were a bit nervous, but after the second week, they
He wanted to find a course with loved it. I took them out for dinner in a pub one day,
someone running it who had and with everyone looking at them, they felt like
the energy, drive, focus and stars. It’s been really good for them.’
structure to keep the
course vibrant. Adding to success
‘All courses vary from According to Carolyn Kendrick, profile raising
place to place, so we can only aid A4e Doncaster’s success in helping
spent a lot of time to gain the respect and understanding of more
looking at different local organisations and employers with a view to
tutors with different forming partnerships. ‘We want to achieve results
approaches,’ he says. which improve people’s lives,’ she says. ‘I run several
‘They were all successful courses besides Elevate, such as Skills for Life,
in their own way, but in which raises literacy and numeracy in line

blueprint winter/spring 2009 13

A4e win08 pp12-15 doncaster.indd 13 16/1/09 09:58:44

Feature: Doncaster Elevate in the spotlight

The hardworking
A4e team in

with the government’s Skills for Life Agenda. We

have excellent job outcomes with this course –
‘The parents felt they
55 per cent of clients gained jobs as a result during
were in a bit of a trap’
October and November 2008.’ Fergus O’Brien from Studio Lambert is the
Other courses include Gateway – a two-week Series Producer of the Channel 4 documentary
intensive job search programme; Full Time on the welfare system.
Education and Training for 18-24 year olds who
have slipped through NEET provision and require The main
further guidance into the world of work; Progress
to Work, which helps to overcome the problems thrust of the
faced by those recovering from substance abuse in
re-entering society; and Link Up, which helps those
recovering from alcohol abuse, the homeless and ex- is the human
offenders find a way back into employment.
‘We teach our learners to support themselves and angle – the
find their own way to the life they want,’ explains emotional Joanne Simmonds, an Elevate client, enjoys
chatting to the customers in Poundland.
Kendrick. ‘In November, despite growing fears over
the economy and news of redundancies at every stories of ‘I think what struck me most was how many of the
turn, my team put 44 unemployed people into people who parents felt that they were in a bit of a trap because
jobs. And not just any 44 people – many of these they had lost so much confidence – they couldn’t see a
came to us with multiple barriers to reaching the are trying to way out, and their problems were exacerbated by debt.
employment market. ‘What a lot of them were waking up to, like us, was
‘I am incredibly proud of the team here,’ she adds.
get back into the realisation that it’s quite a complicated situation
‘Our centre is full of passion fun and vibrancy. The the workplace when one gets into a routine of being on benefits.
work we do is demanding and we need support Lots of things keep people stuck in that place.
Fergus O’Brien
from each other to give us the continued strength ‘Some of the greatest changes took place at
and energy we need.’ the start. We could see that the biggest problems
For Taylor, being part of a documentary made her lone parents faced were that their self-esteem and
really proud. ‘It’s a real compliment to have been self-confidence had been completely eroded. The
chosen to be in a film,’ she says, ‘and it’s something challenge for them was to face up to that and rebuild
that I’ll be able to keep forever. It’s good, too, to be a it. As we followed their journey, we saw them face a
role model for my daughter – and I’ll be able to see lot of their demons and learn what it was that had
myself at my peak in years to come!’ been stopping them. It was an amazing experience.’

14 blueprint winter/spring 2009

A4e win08 pp12-15 doncaster.indd 14 16/1/09 09:58:49


Where credit’s due

The declining economy has it – for example, covering relaxation for Train to
Gain eligibility, extension of debt advice, better
confirmed to Mark Lovell that access to welfare and skills provision in the event
of redundancy – are all good policy decisions. Over
robust finances are key the last 18 months we have been clear that it is
not additional spend that is required, but greater
to a better business flexibility to spend existing funds more effectively.

We will need more public sector investment, but
ver the last six months, I have spent first let’s make what we have function brilliantly.
a fair amount of time with financiers To do so, we need to respond to the needs of
and people in the financial services Mark Lovell believes that working
our customers – individuals and business –
industry. It’s been an interesting time, with governments in the UK and quickly, and with the full spectrum of A4e
overseas will help A4e’s most
and it has reinforced some basic and simple truths vulnerable clients. and its partners’ services. Joined up front line
about running a good business. Importantly, it public services have never been more necessary.
has reiterated to me that one of A4e’s strengths By focusing our attention on making this happen
has been its prudent approach to ensuring robust and working collaboratively with governments
finances, even though we are such a high growth in the UK and overseas, we are able to support
business. All of this stands us in good stead for the our most vulnerable clients. This means we can
next two years. do our bit to limit
Core to what A4e does is supporting vulnerable the impact of global
people, their communities, businesses in those Over the last 18 months recession on the
communities and tackling poverty, economic economies where
development and social development. As the we have been clear that it is not we work. There is an
discussions in the media, in government and additional spend that is required, enormous amount of
business have turned to dealing with recession – pragmatic concern in
and the speed of its impact – I have continued to but greater flexibility to spend the labour markets
remain focused on those things that I can influence
and control, where we can contribute to easing the
existing funds more effectively and economies, but also much
impact of economic downturn and stimulate growth. Mark Lovell, A4e executive chairman more optimism and
During a recession, one of the challenges is that determination than
the poorest and most disadvantaged always get hit sometimes gets
the hardest. A4e’s role is to minimise and mitigate reported in the media.
against this. The economic impact of the current
situation is different to that which I experienced
when building A4e in the early 1990s, and what I
saw as I grew up in the 1980s. We now have a more
diverse economy, with greater resilience and a more
co-ordinated series of business and governmental
Equally, in this early stage, we see opportunities
for enterprise, job creation and skills development
(for skills shortages in business) still holding up.
This will get more difficult in the first half of next
year, but at the same time as rising unemployment
figures, we still have a very robust number of jobs
being created in the economy. We still have a large
number of stubborn, hard-to-fill vacancies as well. At
the entry level for jobs, we are holding up well, but
we know this will get harder next year.
In response to this, we are driving enhanced join
up and flexibility across all A4e’s services. The
Pre-Budget Report and the announcements before

blueprint winter/spring 2009 15

A4e win08 pp12-15 doncaster.indd 15 19/1/09 13:36:05

feature: Managing mONEY

Money talks Knowing how to manage Usually she’s well-received. ‘The feedback I’ve been
getting is that this had been a long time coming,’
money and stay out of debt she said.
‘It’s whetted the appetite of professionals to hone
is crucial to young people, Upskilling skills they’ve learned on this course. The FSA is keen
especially in the current young people for us to identify champions in local authorities and
other organisations so that, when A4e pulls out in
economic climate – and to understand 2010, the programme will stay alive.’
Prisoners are especially vulnerable to ignorance of
financial training is helping financial affairs personal finance – as Justin Coleman, Enrichment
youngsters do just that is key to Manager at HMP Ashfield, near Bristol, which houses
400 young offenders, is well aware. ‘They need this
helping to sort of education, particularly with the recession

anaging money is a key life skill, but break coming on,’ he says.
one that not all young people possess. Unfortunately, the time available in life skills
Now the Financial Services Authority poverty cycles classes proved too limited to offer financial education.
(FSA), in partnership with Citizen’s However, Coleman has been working with A4e since
Advice and youth charity Fairbridge, has created a
and ensure June 2008 to remedy matters. ‘We had a new group
programme to help young people not in education, social mobility of officers on the wing and felt the time was right to
employment or training become more financially start teaching them to pass on basic financial skills,’
capable. In an increasingly complex financial in the next he said.
landscape, this initiative is well overdue and A4e is at generation Following a visit by A4e to Ashfield’s training
the heart of training people to make it work. centre, the officers received training and resources
Stakeholder Engagement Manager Kerry Anne Mel Dodd, with financial information pitched at a level
A4e programme
Davies has travelled the country to encourage manager for Young
everyone could understand. ‘It went incredibly well,’
organisations to make a long-term commitment. People and Money said Coleman.

16 blueprint winter/spring 2009

A4e win08 pp16-17 money talks.indd 16 16/1/09 09:59:33

feature: Managing mONEY

Toni Ebanks, Manager of Rolfe House, a foyer for

young people aged from 16 to 25, run by Birmingham
housing support organisation Midland Heart,
also believes that a structured approach is the way
forward. Although Ebanks and her 14 staff have
offered budgeting tips while imparting life skills, this
was done informally before they were contacted by
A4e and underwent training.
Rolfe House has 24 residents. ‘Most of their
financial problems are generic,’ says Ebanks. ‘A lot
of young people have never had to pay bills – they’ve
Around 20 people, mainly education staff, have relied on mum and dad.’
completed A4e’s training so far. With Ashfield’s The training package includes guidance for
inspection out of the way and routines returning staff working with young people on matters such
to normal, Coleman hopes the programme will as bank accounts and benefits. Practical material
build momentum. ‘In time, with the backing of includes work plans and discussion templates.
wing managers, we’re hoping 100 staff will undergo Information on signposting was particularly helpful,
financial training – which will be around 25 per Ebanks commented.
cent,’ he said. Most residents live on their £45-a-week Jobseekers
Success is hard to quantify but, from observing Allowance. A small contribution to accommodation
young offenders during evening association, leaves about £40 for food, toiletries and travel. ‘But
Coleman is convinced it’s having an effect. ‘They talk when you get groups of young people together,
about financial problems they may face in a focused sometimes those aren’t priorities – they’re more
way,’ he said. ‘If they aren’t aware of them, it could trip interested in going out,’ said Ebanks.
l Up until the end of them up. We’re trying to avoid offenders re-offending.’ ‘We do affordability plans for them. If they’re in
October 2008, 2,172 debt with rent arrears or a telephone bill, we signpost
delegates had been Preventing debt them to organisations such as Citizen’s Advice
trained by A4e in Jean Brown, Manager of Careers Wales, sees young (CAB). If they’re going to college, we can tell them
England, Wales and people stumble into debt frighteningly early and how to apply for education maintenance allowance.
Scotland. The target is wants to help prevent it. She’s dismayed by the ‘We’ve used the toolkit for four months and have
8,100 by the time the irresponsibility of some institutional lenders. ‘We’ve a budget guide for everyone. It makes our work more
contract ends in 2010 seen instances of 16- to 18-year-olds being given store professional and helps staff reconsider the situation
l Funding is provided cards,’ she says. the young are in. Most residents respond well, but
through the FSA – Among the bodies Careers Wales works with sometimes you’ll get one or two who won’t stick to
with no costs to the closely is Pembrokeshire Action for the Homeless. the plan.’
organisations concerned Brown hears ‘time after time’ stories of people evicted Mel Dodd, A4e’s Programme Manager for Young
l Training is further from their homes, ‘more often than not because People and Money, added: ‘Upskilling young people
supported by a CAB they’ve got into debt.’ The effect on family life and to understand financial affairs is key to helping to
Money Advisor at schooling can be devastating. break poverty cycles and ensure social mobility in the
each course After finding out about A4e through the FSA, next generation. We believe that this programme has
l For further information, Brown began to organise training in April 2008. the potential to help improve the lives of thousands
visit People who have taken part so far include workers of young people in the UK.’
ypm or simply in youth offending and leaving care teams, as well
call 0845 189 8081 as housing officers from the council and housing
But how does she gauge its effectiveness? ‘We
undertake observations with our staff to see if they’re
putting it into practice,’ says Brown. ‘I think it will be
more long term before you can see the impact. I’ve
done it myself – it makes you look at yourself and
how you manage money.’
Above all, Brown hopes the financial education
will help young people avoid the follies of their
parents: the lure of easy credit, and paying mobile
phone bills – but not the rent. ‘The effect on their
education is enormous if they’re evicted, relocated,
and have to go into bed and breakfast,’ she said.

blueprint winter/spring 2009 17

A4e win08 pp16-17 money talks.indd 17 16/1/09 09:59:40

Freedom of choice
Being able to choose carers and employ giving individuals money in lieu of social care services.
This means that they have much greater choice as to
them directly is giving disabled people the who provides their care, and in this respect, they act
as employers. But those who may be worried about
freedom to live their lives as they wish the paperwork and the associated employment

issues involved needn’t be, as help is at hand.
iving – or caring for someone – with a The Direct Payments service in Southwark is
disability can take a great deal of getting managed by A4e, which has a team in place to offer
used to, especially if the situation arises guidance and support to users. Isabelle Clement,
unexpectedly. Not only do extra support, Southwark Direct Payments Service Manager,
care and help need to be provided, but families also explains how the system works.
have to get used to unfamiliar people being around ‘Most of our clients would otherwise receive social
the home – something that many find uncomfortable. care from agency workers via the council list, but
And being in control of their own situation is they don’t get a great choice. The carers are often
critically important to disabled people. But what overworked and underpaid. Some are good, but they
many aren’t aware of is that they can actually choose rarely have time to do what the client wants – they’re
their own personal assistants or/carers – and often rushing from client to client.
employ them directly – through the Government’s ‘With Direct Payments, you can choose someone
Direct Payments scheme. local as your worker who may only have one client,
‘I care for my 13-year-old autistic son, Donald,’ for instance. Or you might choose a family member
says Mercy Miller from Southwark, London. ‘He’s or someone you know that would be better situated
been on Direct Payments for a year now. The carer’s to provide the support you need.’
agency weren’t listening to my needs at all – carers Another reason for enabling people to choose
just wouldn’t turn up, and the agency couldn’t their own carer is so that they can find someone
replace them. I was always getting left in the lurch who has knowledge of their language or culture,
and having to rush home from work. for example. For people who don’t speak English
‘Our social worker told me about Direct Payments, as their first language, it is very important that they
and it’s really changed my life. I decide how much I receive support from a worker with whom they can
pay the carer, and I set the hours so that she’s there, speak in their own tongue. This is crucial when you
waiting for me, when I get home from work. Life is are communicating about very intimate support
so much better managed now.’ tasks such as personal care for example.
‘The client might be from a particular African
Better flexibility country, and they might like to advertise for
Direct Payments gives users much more flexibility in someone through their faith group, for example, to
choosing the support that they need, and it works by increase the possibility of finding someone from the

18 blueprint winter/spring 2009

A4e win08 pp18-19 southwark.indd 18 16/1/09 10:00:42

feature: using direct payments

same culture,’ says Clement. ‘Of course, you might case study: ‘You have to
get a British worker to learn a specific cooking style keep your staff happy’
or hair-braiding skills, but it would take time to train
Royston Lewis, from Southwark, is a
them, especially if they were only working with the
Direct Payment client
client for an hour a day.
‘It would be more cost-effective to employ someone ‘You have to be friends with carers, but you have got
from that particular culture, perhaps someone who to let them know who’s boss. It’s not easy being the
could go to the local African market and know what boss – I’ve learned the hard way. If something is not
to buy, or understand the client’s religious needs.’ right, I always call a meeting and allow people to
speak. It’s important not to talk down to people.
Green paper ‘You have to be honest and frank with your staff.
Stephen Ladyman, MP for South Thanet, is one of I had a couple of Muslim women who didn’t eat pork,
the champions of Direct Payments, and is currently so to ask them to cook a meal of that sort would
following the consultation on social care to prepare have interfered with their religion. You must respect
for the government’s green paper. that. Address these things at the interview stage and
‘I was the minister in the Department of Health be clear about the tasks from the start.
who championed Direct Payments when it was first ‘It’s important to get the best out of your staff, too.
being set up,’ he says. ‘A lot of people told me it I trained my staff for five years to NVQ Level 4. You
wouldn’t work, but I am delighted that it has. And have to have confidence in yourself, and know what
I want to make sure that the government is moving you want. I teach my carers that when they first come
forward on Direct Payments.’ into work, they must wash their hands. I also make sure
Ladyman was on hand at the recent service user that they change their clothes as soon as they come
group event at Southwark, where Direct Payment in – it cuts the risks of bringing germs into the house.
clients and carers got the opportunity to share their ‘When my wife was alive, I had six carers in the
views about the service. They were also able to gain house and I had to be fair to them all – you have
useful information about further training that might to keep your staff happy. On Valentine’s Day, for
instance, I would buy
a present for my
A lot of people told me Direct Payments wife, and then buy
all the women
wouldn’t work, but I am delighted that it has a bunch of
Stephen Ladyman, MP flowers, too!’

offer opportunities for them and for their workers

fact file through joint working with A4e Skills in Barnet.
Thelma Browne, a Direct Payments client from
l Direct Payments are Borough, London, found out about the service from
cash payments made
her home help lady. ‘I was very depressed – my
to individuals by social
services in lieu of carers weren’t turning up, they weren’t working
care services. properly and my home help lady told me about
l 37,000 adults used the
Direct Payments,’ says Browne. ‘She passed me the
service in 2005-2006, an
increase of over 50 per
phone number for A4e, and I got in touch.
cent on the previous year. ‘When A4e first explained the system to me, I
l A4e provides the thought it was very confusing – I saw the amount of
Direct Payments Support paperwork and thought there was no way I could do
Service contracts for
12 local authorities in
it. It was like going back to school, and maths was
England, and works with never my favourite subject! But one lady from A4e
almost 5,000 service came round and showed me how to fill out all the
users of Direct Payments.
forms and choose a payroll advisor, who dealt with Being independent
A4e Independent Living Services currently pilots
all the paperwork.
personalised budgets for some local authorities (the
‘Now, I wonder why I was scared! It’s much better
next stage of government development around the
than before, and it’s a relief that I don’t have to
Personalisation Agenda). It also provides brokerage,
worry about when my carers are coming. I employ
advocacy, payroll provision and third-party managed
someone myself with caring experience, who I
accounts, as well as carer support services, including
already knew. We have set days and times, and she
a 24-hour emergency support service for Oxfordshire
has a spare set of keys in case I’m not there – she’s
County Council.
an absolute godsend!’

blueprint winter/spring 2009 19

A4e win08 pp18-19 southwark.indd 19 16/1/09 10:00:46

Hull’s Community
Legal Advice
Centre is the fifth
to open.

Keeping ahead
of the law
Getting free legal advice in
Hull might be easier than
people think, thanks to the
opening of a new centre in town with CAB to deliver first-rate services to the public.
Hull CLAC is a partnership between A4e and
social welfare lawyers Howells Solicitors. ‘They’re a

t’s still in its infancy and has yet to market unique bunch,’ says Bradley, the centre’s operations
itself in earnest, but already people in crisis manager. ‘They do this because they love the job
are beating a path to Hull’s Community Legal and helping people – you aren’t in it for the money.’
Advice Centre (CLAC). People arrive with myriad problems, but debt is
With the finances of so many in turmoil, demand often at the root. ‘The levels can be quite frightening
for its services can only increase. Hull’s CLAC is the – especially when you find out how much credit
country’s fifth, the fruit of a drive by the city council they’ve been given in relation to their income,’
and Legal Services Commission (LSC) to bring legal said Bradley.
advice services under one roof.
Disquiet among those who fear for the future
of their Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) is well-
documented. But A4e’s Alison Bradley, who was
It’s amazing how you can turn someone’s
asked to set up Hull’s CLAC after A4e’s successful life around with the correct information and
tender, says there’s no intention of putting CAB out of
business, even though the CLAC has taken over many put them in control, rather than the creditor
of its functions. A4e is keen to work in partnership Alan Usher, supervisor, Hull clac debt team

20 blueprint winter/spring 2009

A4e win08 pp20-21 ahead of the law.indd 20 19/1/09 13:38:09

focus on: free legal advice

Alan Usher supervises the debt team. He thinks

more than 3,000 families or individuals in the city
have acute problems and has watched things build
up over five years amid 100 per cent mortgage offers
and unsecured loans. ‘What worries me is the ones
we don’t reach,’ he said.
Usher leads a team of just three, barely enough
to fight all the fires. He says another 10 might allow
him to be proactive. The scale of the problem might
overwhelm many, but Usher savours the successes.
‘It’s amazing how you can turn someone’s life
around with the correct information and put them
in control, rather than the creditor,’ he said.
He’s convinced CLACs are the way forward for l Hull CLAC is the fifth
debt advice. ‘I know what we can do and that the to open in the UK
feedback will be superb,’ he said. ‘It will be positive, l The Law Services
exciting and different.’ Commission expects it to
take on more than 3,300
civil legal aid cases –
case study: ‘It’s a better more than double what’s
way of spending money’ currently provided by the
CAB and other law firms
Simon Head is a generalist at Hull CLAC – ‘a and agencies with legal
wealth of information on anything and everything: aid contracts
employment, housing and immigration.’ A former chef l The first month showed
and volunteer at the CAB, he thinks that ‘it would be a steady increase in
brilliant’ if the two could work together and offer a full enquiries – 93 in the first Simon Head, Mandy
Anfield and Alan
range of services. week to 136 in the fourth Usher, part of the Hull
With its city centre location, Hull’s CLAC is ‘like l Demand for debt advice CLAC team.

a supermarket – we can see what we are doing,’ he is constantly rising – Hull

says. ‘I think it’s a better way of spending the local CLAC is expected to see Housing problems
authority’s and taxpayer’s money.’ around 10,000 new clients Debt and housing crises go hand in hand. Apart
While some problems may resemble a Gordian in its first year from the normal caseload of mortgage repossessions
knot, many can be swiftly remedied. ‘The other day I l It has over 30 staff and evictions, Mandy Anfield’s legal work involves
increased someone’s income by £3,000 a year relating whose work covers mopping up the ramification of last summer’s floods
immigration, welfare which left thousands homeless.
benefits, housing, It adds further pressure to Hull’s rental market,
debt, employment, where some landlords have even jacked up rents by
family, outreach admin 30 per cent or more. ‘It put a lot of properties out
and management. All of reach of people,’ she said. ‘There can be a gap of
specialists are supervised £60–£70 between monthly rents and what they get
by solicitors from local housing allowance.’
Anfield came to Hull CLAC from a private
firm of solicitors, Payne and Payne, where she
was franchised to the LSC and her work publicly
funded. Its nature has changed little – the demand
is constant: ‘We dealt with 45 cases in the first
fortnight and I’m sure it will increase,’ she said.
to their benefit entitlement,’ says Head. His ear is well- ‘The bulk are possessions and evictions and are
attuned – ‘I can find out in a few minutes by talking to dealt with quite quickly. What we don’t pick up
people if they need to be passed on to our specialists.’ through the office, we find at the county court – on
Much depends on the willingness of lawyers average, we have 10 clients a session.’
prepared to work at rates below those in private She sees a big economic advantage for clients
practice. ‘I admire them,’ says Head. ‘If they didn’t in having a variety of legal services under one roof.
do it, people couldn’t afford solicitors who charge ‘People can be seen for all aspects of their problems,
anything from £120–£170 an hour.’ rather than having to travel from one end of the city
to the other.’

blueprint winter/spring 2009 21

A4e win08 pp20-21 ahead of the law.indd 21 16/1/09 10:01:19


worked in a system that has assumed more than

enough employment opportunities to go round and
that unemployment was an individual issue rather

Work in progress than an economic one. Experienced practitioners

would challenge this view, citing the localised nature
of labour markets and employment opportunities.
Nevertheless, seeing unemployment as an individual
What are the implications for UK employment ‘problem’ has been the predominant frame for over 10
years – until now.
and skills policies as we enter a recession, The increasing levels of unemployment over the last
asks Michael Davis, Managing Director few months, which will continue this year and into
2010, arise because as the economy contracts, there will
of CFE (Centre for Enterprise) simply be insufficient economic activity to support the

size of our current labour market. Unemployment won’t
f January isn’t typically a bleak enough time simply exist because people don’t have the right skills,
of year, this month will be even bleaker as we experience or attitude; in many instances it will be
see the publication of new economic data that because there aren’t enough jobs to go round. Accept
will undoubtedly show the UK to officially be this and there are a number of implications for policy,
in recession. As the newspapers continue to splash but I will highlight just two.
recession headlines, such news will be academic to Firstly, it makes ever stronger the case that strategies
those who have already lost their jobs, and sobering for employment, skills and economic development
to those returning to work. Consequently, forecasts for must be integrated in a way that recognises their
the peak of what unemployment might reach continue interdependencies. Too often in the past these have
to rise with the symbolic three million figure moving been pursued in isolation. However, there can only be
rapidly from ‘possible’ to ‘probable’ in early 2010. employment if there is economic activity, and economic
Rightly, the majority of energy is being directed activity is, in part, a function of the skills available to a
towards seeking to restore confidence in markets and given labour market. Making this happen will require
to provide assistance to those who lose their jobs. What genuine inter-agency working at a sub-regional level.
I’d like to offer, however, is an observation that comes This will need to be outcome-driven and have sufficient
from accepting that we are in recession and that the flexibility to bespoke nationally-set procedures to meet
only certainty is uncertainty and to ask – what were you local needs.
doing 17 years ago? Secondly, those who have been the hardest to engage
The early 1990s was the last UK recession, and as I in returning to work will sink even further back as
was still in full-time education, I can offer no practical any new employment
advice on what types of initiatives worked best. I can, opportunities will
however, make the observation that for the last 10 Unemployment won’t simply overwhelmingly go
years, at least employment and skills policies in the to those who have
UK have all been built upon the presumption of ‘no exist because people don’t have been made recently
more boom and bust’ and of near infinite expansion
of employment.
the right skills, experience or unemployed. A
meaningless statistic of
On the back of falling unemployment since the early attitude; it will be because there ‘average time out of work’
1990s, and distinctly from 1997, we have collectively will emerge, concealing
aren’t enough jobs to go round two distinct patterns
quickly and those who
stay out of work for longer and longer periods. In both
instances, personalised approaches are required which
provide bespoke support to get people back into work.
This will need to provide not only the skills required
to re-enter the job market, but also a genuine appetite
for progression and personal learning thereafter;
recognising that economic certainty will be absent for
several years to come.
What both policy implications have in common
is the need for national frameworks that provide for
accountability and transparency of performance. But
most importantly, in delivery terms, there is a need for
genuine local flexibility that is outcome focused around
achieving the most important goals of employment:
personal progression and economic productivity.


A4e win08 pp22 Davis.indd 22 16/1/09 10:01:49

international: australia

Getting it together
Down Under
Setting up an operation abroad can he change of government has presented a
rich opportunity for A4e in Australia. The
often be a challenge but, with so many Labour government, when it took power
in late 2007, placed social inclusion high
similarities with the employment market on its agenda, and A4e’s international expertise
in the UK, A4e Australia is already well in supporting governments by addressing social
exclusion issues has enabled the company to act
on its way to success swiftly to establish a presence in Australia.

A4e win08 pp23-25 Australia.indd 23 16/1/09 10:02:11

international: australia

It was almost as if deputy Prime Minister Julia

Gillard, addressing the Australian Industry Group
within days of taking office, had issued an open
invitation. Lifting productivity would, she said, ‘need
a much broader approach to economic reform...
which includes bringing those who are socially
excluded back into the economic mainstream.’
It was here she announced Australia was to
have a new Social Inclusion Board comprising
economists, business people and welfare
experts, ‘driving policies tailored to the needs
of the most disadvantaged, parents, children,
suburbs and neighbourhoods – as well as to the
needs of employers.’
Having done plenty of homework over two years
through Group Board Director Roy Newey and
Executive Director Steve Marsland, A4e opened up
in Australia in May 2008. It hopes to play a big part
in integrating what the government describes as
the ‘important pool of human capital that has been
totally ignored – disadvantaged Australians.’

Waiting game
So there’s plenty for A4e to get its teeth into and
things have been busy for the team since setting up.
A4e has bid for contracts that are part of Australia’s
new Employment Services, due to commence in
July 2009. To date, the Australian team is working
in preparation for the contract announcement,
anticipated in March 2009.
The Australian Employment Services model
is similar to the UK model, which A4e has been
delivering successfully for many years. Having
tendered for contracts across a broad range of
communities, A4e is confident that it has the track
record to respond to the government’s agenda.
There will also be other avenues to explore in
Australia, including State and Federal Government A lot of work has gone into the local team includes Megan Williams and Kieren
building partnerships and
programmes. developing brand awareness Kearney – New South Wales and Victoria State
A4e Australia CEO, Shula Kentwell, leads a highly- at A4e Australia. Project Managers, respectively. Collectively, Williams
experienced team of four. With more than 25 years’ and Kearney offer more than 15 years of industry,
experience in high-level management positions, operational and management experience. Finally,
Kentwell has experience in public, private and Aaron Simpson, a registered psychologist, provides
not-for-profit organisations. She sits on a number vast clinical experience across vocational and non-
of industry and community boards, and is highly vocational human services.
revered within the Employment Services sector. To date, ‘a lot of our work has gone into building
Kentwell’s leadership is complemented by Mike partnerships and developing brand awareness,’
Gordon, Executive Chairperson, Australia, while says Kentwell. ‘There was some misunderstanding
around the foreign entities coming into Australia,
and uncertainty about what they could bring to the
With the arrival of the Rudd government, market. Roy and Steve have done a wonderful job
there was an appetite for change – it building A4e’s reputation here.’
When Roy Newey first visited Australia in 2007,
wanted to deliver more for people he was struck by the country’s strong sense of
historic inequality and injustice as he joined a
further from the labour market march in Sydney to mark National Sorry Day. He
Steve Marsland, A4e Executive director witnessed ‘a common trauma that needed healing’.

24 blueprint winter/spring 2009

A4e win08 pp23-25 Australia.indd 24 16/1/09 10:02:22

international: australia

We’re coming off the base of some of the

best economic times in Australia. Investing in
skills and training becomes more important
Shula kentwell, A4e australia ceo

has been busy talking to people and industries. ‘The

more we talk to people, the more they recognise
the skills and approaches that we can bring,’ says
Kentwell. ‘People are engaging with something new,
and bringing fresh perspective into the country.’
However, for the foreseeable future, things will
become much tougher globally. Few countries are
isolated from the economic global turmoil. ‘We’re
coming off the base of some of the best economic
times in Australia,’ adds Kentwell. ‘A lot of work has
to be done with those who are more marginalised.
Getty Images

A4e Australia is targeting

hard-to-reach groups, including Investing in skills and training becomes more
indigenous Australians.
A4e’s bid strategy was to target areas with highly
disadvantaged communities, and to work with some
of the more marginalised groups to achieve social
and economic independence.
As in other countries, A4e had watched the
Australian market over a number of years to
determine if there was a compatibility, and had been
fact file awaiting an opportunity to introduce the company’s
expertise in addressing social exclusion. ‘There has
l The government’s
been a considerable investment made in Australia,
Skilling Australia Plan
aims to deliver 450,000
and we are taking a long-term view,’ says Kentwell.
more training places – 90 Marsland sees winning the initial contracts as just
Left to right: Aaron Simpson,
Organisational Strategist/Psychologist; per cent at the higher the beginning for A4e – ‘getting a toehold’. ‘We don’t
Shula Kentwell, Australian CEO; Certificate III level – just want to be an Employment Services Provider,’
Megan Williams, New South Wales with priorities driven by
Project Manager, and Kieren Kearney,
industry need.
he says. ‘We want to grow our business with every
Victoria Project Manager.
l Around 175,000 aspect of what we do around social welfare policy.’
‘This excluded community (indigenous Australian) places will be directed
to improving the skills
is so different to any other I have met on my travels,’
of people who are
he said. He also visited parliament, meeting former either unemployed or
Prime Minister John Howard and the current Prime ‘marginally attached’ to
Minister Kevin Rudd, then leader of the opposition. the workforce.
l Social inclusion policies
Steve Marsland was quite surprised at how
will be linked directly to
welcoming civil servants and politicians were. “They the government’s wider
were looking towards fresh and new ideas, and were economic development
curious about a company that had come over from objectives.
l Unemployment in
England,’ he said.
Australia is predicted to
‘With the arrival of the Rudd government, there rise by as much as 1.5 per
was an appetite for change – it wanted to deliver cent by July 2009 and
more for people furthest from the labour market. a further 1 per cent the
following year.
That made it more attractive for us – we want to l Until last year, Australia
add value.’ had experienced 17 years
of economic growth, yet
Fresh ideas more than 500,000
15- to 24-year-olds were
A4e Australia brings a new and refreshed set of neither in full-time work
ideas relating to employment and human services nor education.
to the Australian market, and the Australian team

blueprint winter/spring 2009 25

A4e win08 pp23-25 Australia.indd 25 16/1/09 10:02:53

international: france

In the suburbs
Giving youngsters new opportunities to train and find jobs
is the aim of a new programme in the French suburbs

t’s easy to forget that, while the UK is busy We need Maximilien Dorostian is director of operations for
suffering a recession and counting the cost of A4e France, and is happy that things are evolving
lost jobs, wallets are being squeezed elsewhere to hack down in the way of rights and responsibilities in France.
in the world. the barriers ‘It’s true that France is a country with a lot of social
In France, the financial situation due to the credit combat, and we believe that we have rights which
crunch has affected the economy badly – figures that people we have earned – but because the social system is
show that, during 2008, unemployment was on the continually evolving, we also need to focus on our
rise – standing at 7.9 per cent in September 2008.
are facing, and responsibilities,’ he said.
And while most would prefer to be in work, the show those ‘In this way, the new government is working
incentives for the unemployed to find jobs are not hard in order to get the balance right in terms of
necessarily the same as in the UK. from minority responsibilities towards unemployed people, as well
For instance, the benefits system in France backgrounds as those in employment. The main target here is to
entitles the unemployed to part of their previous encourage people to undertake an active search to
salary for between six months and 23 months, that they have find jobs – and not just to wait until they have used
depending on the period of time that they’d been in
their job. In the UK, a statutory rate of Jobseeker’s
a place in up their benefit allocation.’

Allowance is paid to those actively seeking work – society Finding work

and after six months, if they have not found a job, A recent new contract win for A4e France hopes to
they may be asked to attend an interview to see how dorostian, a4e see more young people given job-specific training
else they could be helped to find work. france and help to find work in areas that they’re interested
And it’s precisely in these times of uncertainty in. Targeting the NEET group (Not in Employment,
that those who have been out of work for some Education or Training) similar to that in the UK,
time need the support and encouragement of those the programme was launched in France by Fadela
around them. Amara, secretary of state for urban policy. It’s part

A4e win08 pp26-27 france.indd 26 19/1/09 13:41:17

international: france

The team at A4e France are

hard at work with their new
The programme began at the beginning of November
‘back to work’ programme. 2008, with an initial intake of around 25 clients. Two
of the areas in which the programme is taking place
are Clichy-sous-Bois and Montfermeil, both of which
fall within Seine-Saint-Denis, a north-eastern suburb of
Paris that was very much affected by the Paris riots in
2005. ‘The area had faced big issues that were relayed
on TV and in the media, so we’re proud to be there in
order to help,’ said Dorostian.
One of the biggest aims is to give the clients
confidence and to help them through the targeted
action plan. ‘We want to help every single client, and we
need to consider these clients as customers,’ explained
Dorostian. ‘This means that the notion of customer
of the plan to help regenerate the suburbs, put in care is behind every single thing we do. We need to
place by the French government and known as ‘Le hack down the barriers that these people are facing,
Contract d’Autonomie’. such as exclusion, and show those from minority
The programme is looking to work with 45,000 backgrounds that they have a place in society.’
young people in 35 of the most deprived suburbs
in France. To qualify, the youngsters must be Tailor-made services
aged between 16 and 25, and not in education, Another aim of the programme is to provide a form
employment or training. of contact for the youngsters, so that relationships
‘We want to recruit young people directly, without can be built. The young, according to Dorostian,
having to rely on the existing pubic sector,’ said usually need flexibility, so one of the targets is to
Dorostian. ‘In France, the most deprived areas tailor-make services when the client needs it, not
are not in the centres of the cities, but mostly in just when they come to the premises.
the suburbs. That’s the reason this plan has been ‘Because job opportunities can be found without
called ‘Le Plan Espoir Banlieue’ [plan for hope in notice, clients need to know that we are here for
the suburbs]. It’s the role of the provider to recruit them – and that they can count on A4e,’ said
youngsters without having to wait for referrals from Dorostian. ‘All this must be done in a structured
the government.’ approach, which is then built into an action plan for
The six-month programme aims to help develop every single person. Then they know that they have
full or part-time work for clients, or self-employment, our support during the whole programme.’
with training opportunities leading to a level two He added that it was crucial to keep clients
qualification (similar to NVQ Level Two in the UK). focused on priorities. ‘It’s during these difficult
There are three clear objectives: periods that we need to be very attentive in how we
l To find a job that can be sustained; support our clients. It would be easy to sit back and
l To help the young man or woman create their wait for better days, but this is precisely the time to
own opportunities for self-employment; double our efforts. We need to keep pushing and
l To help them to find the right training to working with both clients and employers, because
lead them to a nationally-recognised level throughout these periods of uncertainty, companies
two qualification. continue to work.’

blueprint winter/spring 2009 27

A4e win08 pp26-27 france.indd 27 16/1/09 10:04:10

Pam Kenworthy, legal director of
Howells Direct in Sheffield, answers
our 10 quick-fire questions about
Community Legal Advice (CLA)

1 Is the demand for legal

advice increasing? 6 Is everyone eligible for legal aid?
What are the criteria?
Yes. Since we started 20 months ago, the demand About 40,000 people call CLA every month and
for advice has increased because of the change in 7,500 are referred on for specialist advice, so about
economic conditions. 20 per cent of callers are eligible. To qualify for legal
aid, you need to earn less than £2,530 per month,
have a disposable income of not more than £698

2 How is the nature of advice that

people seek changing?
a month and capital of less than £8,000. If you
live in a household with a partner, your means are
We are speaking to more people than ever who assessed jointly.
are in debt, more people who are being made Pam Kenworthy believes that
giving people instant legal
redundant, more people losing their homes and

advice over the telephone
more people who, because they aren’t in work, are means that the outcomes are Can legal aid be used for various
likely to be better for them.
seeking benefits. When we started out, those issues kinds of legal action?
weren’t as acute as they are now. Yes. It applies to actions against the police,
clinical negligence, community care, consumer
cases, family law, mental health, some personal

3 Why do you think it’s important for clients to be able to

access a free advice service?
injury cases, public law, immigration and
criminal defence.
Traditionally, individuals have accessed legal advice on a face-to-face basis –
they go to see their local solicitor or Citizens Advice (CAB), but they’ve not had
access to a telephone advice service. In the past, people used to fall into what is
called the ‘advice black hole’ – they couldn’t get advice because of the limit as 8 Do you think it’s harder to access
legal aid these days?
to what was available. Telephone advice means people can access advice more I don’t think so. I think £2,530 per month is quite a
quickly and conveniently, and that means the outcomes are likely to be better. lot to earn. The issue is not so much about income
or capital, it’s about whether you can find somebody
to act for you – that’s why the telephone service is

4 What are some of the options open

to people who want to seek legal
advice on debt, housing or employment?
so great.

Other than CLA, there are a number of agencies

that can assist. As far as debt advice goes, the 9 How do you think that the legal service in the UK
could be improved?
CAB and not-for-profit agencies are funded by The government could spend more money on it, but I understand that
local councils and the Department for Business, there are limited resources available.
Enterprise and Regulatory Reform to provide
assistance. Housing advice is accessed through legal
aid solicitors, CAB and Shelter. For employment
advice, you can call ACAS. In addition, the Equality
10 How concerned are you by the
changes in our society whereby
people seem to want to sue each other
and Human Rights Commission provide advice on
discrimination. There’s also lot of advice on the web. has worked over everyday incidents?
The statistics don’t support that as being the case,
very hard to even though that may be the impression that is

5 Do you think that the public have

enough access to legal information
and their rights?
make sure
people do
peddled by certain red top newspapers. I think
people are more aware of their rights now – if you’ve
suffered an accident at work, why shouldn’t you
The government has worked very hard to make sure
people do have access to advice, but there is still
have access have the right to bring a claim? It may be going
that way in America whereby trivial claims come to
more demand than there is supply. to advice court, but I don’t think that’s happening over here.

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A4e win08 pp28 OBC.indd 28 16/1/09 10:04:36