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"It's Great!"

A current client says of their work experience: 'It’s great, it’s enabling me to improve my skills and look at other avenues. It’s making me smile again.'

 That's what the Salvation Army Employment Plus website tells me. They claim the organisation:

Works to redress the negative effects of unemployment on people’s lives – their self-esteem, overall well-being, families and wider communities, to provide jobseekers with targeted professional support through:
  • our nationwide network of community and social work centres
  • our teams of specialist employment advisers
  • and our partners in employment services
 These are not negative effects caused by unemployment but by capitalism: the lack of money in a society where money is everything and the social opprobrium brought about by not being what society wants you to be: an economic drone, instead of a rounded thoughtful caring individual. That's the first point to make; don't be telling me that unemployment is the diseases when it's merely an inevitable symptom of a much greater problem. As long as we keep the system as is, there will always be unemployment - and consequently there will always be people like the Salvation Army to capitalise upon it.

A nationwide network of community and social work centres? What the hell is this? There's no such thing. Certainly not for me - unless tatty old church halls decorated like something from the 1970's are what they mean. Hardly the brunt of a progressive movement toward helping people. I don't even think they have internet access!

Specialist employment advisers? Well for a start they are SA officers (they really do like to think of themselves as some kind of army!) and they expect me to be 100% comfortable being in their Christian environment. Good job I'm absolutely an atheist - oh wait. I don't see any evidence of specialism at all. Anyone could have done what P did: print out some leaflets and tell me how little they can help. I'm not sure what partners they refer to either, I'm not sure I'd want to find out.

To be honest they are using the same kind of pseudo religious work ethic nonsense as Duncan Schmidt; but then they are both followers of the same belief system. Welfare dependency - which they want to replace with what...income dependency presumably. Wage slavery. In work or not, you are still dependent on the money you receive, that isn't being challenged.

Looks like they are seeking people in my area: Job Life Coaches (WTF?). This isn't the most well paid job in existence however, and you have to be subservient to the organisation's 'christian ethos'. Of course they don't say that you must be a Christian, but then they can't can they! 

The Work Programme transforms the way in which long-term unemployed people receive help into employment. All job seekers who have been signing on for 12 months are referred for bespoke support in gaining sustainable employment. The Job Life Coach will encourage, motivate and inspire job seekers!

Yes, it's very transformative. It's magically transmuted the nation's finances into private wealth for those riding the unemployment gravy train. I can't say that P has encouraged, motivated or inspired me, especially given that he went out of his way to tell me how not-bespoke their service was. Again, I was flat out told that training, at the very least, is off the table entirely. 

Just goes to show how even the lord's soldiers can be 'economical' with the truth in order to deliver a service that, certainly in my experience, wasn't 'bespoke'. Here's the testimony of an employer (the only testimony) as to the effectiveness of employment plus:

Danielle Clark, Store Manager, British Heart Foundation, Putney.
We started working with The Salvation Army around a year ago. During this time they have placed about 10 people with us on work placements, a couple of whom have gone forward for permanent positions.
Overall it’s been extremely successful and we’ve enjoyed working with them. For work as a Red Cap we require people with specific security certification and a strong outgoing personality. We’ve been impressed by the way The Salvation Army has understood what we are looking for and delivered the right people.

Now it doesn't say whether those permanent positions are paid, but notice the lack of specificity - 'a couple of people' from 'about 10'. Is it me, or is this just really rather informal? Ok, fair enough I suppose, but that's not even a quarter of those placed (workfare?) as volunteers in a charity shop! Something that anyone could arrange for themselves anyway - and did the involvement of the SA displace anyone else hoping to volunteer? Did the forced labour they offered (I must assume this is workfare or synonymous with it) take priority? If this was good for the BHF, does that mean they are still involved in the iniquitous workfare programme? I hope not.

Again, from their site, the salvation army offers:

Offer a personalised service aimed at identifying and addressing any issues which may be making it hard for someone to find work and provide access to the right training and support to look for and gain the job that best suits your skills and personality.

Any issues? Well certainly not mental health issues as they, explicitly, don't have staff trained to deal with that. Had I been referred as an ESA claimant (not that it should make a difference, and they were made aware of my issues in the referral information they were sent but ignored) would it have been different. No, as point of fact, because I asked. Right training? Well that's bollocks as I've explained. The job that best suits your skills and personality: well this sounds great, but of course it can be taken to mean that, given the lack of training and opportunity to broaden your skills base or even experience base (unless shelf stacking and sorting clothes in the BHF is the way forward), this is a bit disingenuous. That's the dangerous part of all this. It's very easy to say we will help you find something to do without helping you move forward. I also don't like the personality part of that either. Sounds rather Orwellian. But even then, their service seems to amount to little more than jobsearching on rubbish facilities in an old church hall. They claim a list of specialist services, but it's the usual stuff with more claims about specialist help/training and the usual gamut of life or employability skills (these may be useful to some, which is fair enough, but this is used by providers across the board to disguise the fact that they offer very little else at all).

I have no idea what they mean by Employment Resource Centres either (this one in Hammersmith sounds about right), unless that's a euphemism for the kind of environment I've seen thus far. Perhaps they just expect you to pray to the almighty for a jobsearch.


  1. Well written (as ever).
    The more I learn and read about people's experiences the more I am convinced that the pimps and Dunkin Donuts, Graylag, CamMoron and the rest have slipped through a wormhole in space from some alternative universe.
    Wish it would open up again and swallow them all.

    1. Thanks.

      I was wary that this might seem more of an embittered hit piece against the Sally Army. It's not meant to be, but i'm sure the good lord will forgive me if i say this with just the teensiest bit of my tongue in my cheek.

      In all seriousness, it should be of great concern that there is a huge disparity between what providers can say advertise and claim and what they actually deliver.


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