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It's Still Great!

I chanced upon the Salvation Army's recruitment advert again yesterday and had a look at the advert details. I discussed this before here, but I don't think I looked at this stuff. 

Firstly I'll mention (again?) this trait as required by their 'Job Life Coaches':

The ability to work within the Christian ethos of The Salvation Army?

 Hmmmn. Well that ethos doesn't seem very Christian to some people, particularly in Australia. I'm not gay so I've no immediate worry about being stoned to death here, but it suggests, along with their ludicrous military affectation and archaic demeanour, they are somewhat out of touch. So anyone technically can work for them without being specifically Christian so long as they subscribe to Christian ethics. Of course ethics such as tribal Bronze Age views toward sexuality and equal rights are shared by many of the west's popular faiths, but they don't have Work Programme facilities except in church halls. How many Employment Plus services are offered in a mosque or a synagogue?

This is also definitely worth repeating:

The Job Life Coach will encourage, motivate and inspire job seekers!

...By telling them, right off the bat, they have no access to any of the things they promise, no training, education, or even computer systems with which to do the one thing they claim they do offer: good old job searching. That's something that statistically has been proven to be more effectively delivered by the jobcentre (if I could find the statistics). Thus the WP is demonstrably cost ineffective.

I certainly haven't been motivated: lied to and lied about, yes. I've had my benefit potentially put at risk (furiously hugs wood), but certainly not encouraged, motivated or inspired. Of courses these are ephemeral abilities that, when the service is pinned down, are the first to be abandoned - and how can we help those that don't engage with the system eh!

The Job description (here, it's a PDF file unfortunately) lists the following as key tasks for a Job Life Coach:

1 Manage a Case Load of customers referred by the Prime Provider
2 Prepare an Individual Action Plan with each customer, relating to barriers
identified as part of their initial interview and in-depth assessment

I have not received an Action Plan - remember this is the record of what is mandatory as required by the WP. That is, anything that isn't listed here isn't mandatory (assuming Grayling hasn't sneakily changed that). Of course arguing this with the DWP will probably mean you are 'not engaging' with the process. This is the dangerous part: it seems to be a wholly generic and vague phrase that can catch people out. Unfortunately that isn't how laws and systems work; everything should be clear.

3 Plan & deliver personal/life skills training (motivation, confidence
building, budgeting), work entry support - ‘Getting Ready for

We've already seen this is non-starter: training? Life skills (What the fuck? And from a pretty traditional Christian point of view as well!) And of course more buzzwords: motivation, confidence (synonyms), building (huh?) and budgeting - what? Budgeting? They are going to tell me how to spend my £70 weekly JSA? Ok, I get that can be helpful to some people, but is that really what the WP is for? It seems that they want to extend their influence deeper into your life, which isn't surprising given that it's a faith based organisation. This is either insidious or bollocks, or insidious bollocks. Either way it's worth keeping their agenda in mind, and that they are listing services they clearly don't offer - by their own admission.

4 Carry out group and 1:1 support sessions as required by the customer and

Such as? Is this the lessons on budgeting? Or the usual 'how to jobsearch' bollocks. Perhaps it will be some of the crazier shit that's going on in the WP, like offering NLP (though they'd probably think that's unchristian)! I wonder if this is the entry point for a little bit of preaching: get them when they are at their lowest and hook them onto the good book!

5 Carry out Solution Focussed Interviews with customer

Ok more spin. I have no real idea what they are talking about here.

6 Assist customer to carry out tasks to achieve identified solutions
7 Accompany customer to meetings/appointments etc if required

Er...what? Does the customer get a say in this? What sort of meetings/appointments? Do they mean signing on at the JC? Do they mean health/doctor appointments? Visits to the CAB? Where are their skills to act as advocacy in this matter? These people, as I have discovered, are not trained in these matters, and I don't recall seeing any such requirement being shown in the specifications on this same Job Description document. (3+ years experience of working with people facing multiple barriers in their life, Knowledge of barriers preventing people entering and sustaining employment, Good knowledge of local professional Support Services. Understanding of the requirements applying to working with vulnerable adults) - these are the requirements. Do you really want an advocate that is, at best, willing to work toward a 'relevant qualification' (they don't even have to have one in the first place).

8 Help build self confidence and develop life skills of customer

So far so bad. I'm not seeing much to inspire confidence yet.

9 Sign post/arrange more specialised/professional help if required (in
liaison with the Contracts Manager)

Well, I was recommended (not referred in any official capacity) to a local charity, which is fine. But that was on a false premise. I knew the charity wouldn't provide advisers to accompany me or anyone else to their WP appointments, and this was confirmed when I spoke with them. I've mentioned this before of course, but it's relevant here so I mention it again. The SA, and thus the WP, are adamant their information was correct and are using it against me - that's not paranoia either, the letter my GP received confirms this.

10 Support Customers & Employers within a
employment environment with
the aim of ensuring sustained employment for the customer

Here is another sticking point: I said to adviser that the WP is meant to be about helping me find sustained employment. But what we think sustained means and what the DWP and the WP providers regard as a suitable period qualifying as sustained seems to be entirely different. 

11 Ensure all paperwork & electronic customer systems are accurate and
kept up to date, providing a quality audit trail

They failed right off the bat. In fact this is why the adviser got annoyed with me: he couldn't understand why I felt it difficult having to go through the same questions to which he already had the answers in an environment too open to discuss delicate personal matters. A lack of discretion, services and lying to my face about what he had been referred. I don't know whether him not having that info was because he chose to lie, or because his line manager (perhaps as company policy) didn't provide it, but it was ridiculous.

12 Maintain a positive relationship, built on trust, with the customer

Too late for that, sir.

13 Maintain good internal and external communications
14 To carry out any other reasonable duties as requested

So there's the SA, serving the victims of the Work Programme. The document ends with a list of specifications a suitable candidate should have, some of which I've already mentioned. Nowhere does it list any specific knowledge or training regarding mental health or health related issues of any kind. No required qualifications are needed, just, at best, a few years experience 'dealing' with people that have 'multiple barriers' (again, vague). Is this really good enough?


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