Unless you were in the middle of nowhere with no newspapers, television or Internet access you will know it was Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee at the weekend. There were numerous events to celebrate. Inevitably with such events millions of people were due to descend on our nation’s capital city. Crowd control was pivotal to the smooth running of events. Not only were police officers from all over the country involved but there were also private contractors used to look after the crowds and protect various Royals.

On Sunday evening I saw a link to an article in the Guardian newspaper. A link that exposed something rather interesting. The article was about the fact unpaid ‘workfare’ scheme participants being stewards. Now it is my understanding that, and feel free to correct if am wrong, stewards are meant to be SIA trained?! Well it would appear Jobseekers claimants (alongside paid apprentices) on the Workfare scheme were brought from the South West to London to be stewards for at least 2 of the days. They arrived in London in the early hours of Sunday morning only to discover the shambles created by whoever was in charge.

It soon transpires that some would end up having to sleep under a bridge and some would end up sleeping in makeshift campsites. With little equipment and inadequate clothing they ‘worked’ along the Thames as the paegent went ahead. The weather was atrocious. Now yes, I know that some of the stewards sent by the company concerned were paid apprentices but no person should have been doing that for free after a night of poor sleep and little food or facilities.

I have seen remarks that state people were genuinely afraid to speak up at the time in fear they will lose their benefits for several months. I have seen people state that they offered to pick up several of those ‘stranded’ in London. I have heard tales of children (adult children) calling parents in tears. I also saw in one tweet that a couple were asked to sign off of their Jobseekers Allowance prior to the event having been told they would be paid. Some reports state people on the buses up were told, prior to departure they would be paid handsomely only to be told hours before starting it wouldn’t be paid. The company concerned are involved with stewardship at the Olympics next month.

Would all those in favour of the Workfare scheme please google Jubilee workfare and then see whether you still feel it’s a good scheme?!

Workfare is acceptable for 16-25 year olds but not for people who have more than 10 years working experience under their belt. It should be optional, except in certain circumstances, for 25 years and older.

It is counterproductive to place a 45 year old with 25 years retail experience in a Workfare placement within the manufacturing industry if said claimant is actively seeking a retail position. Said claimant will have no choice but to attend, failure to do so results in benefit sanctions that could mean a 24 week loss of benefits. They tell you that you will be there for 8 weeks and are required to ‘work’ for 30 hours. You shall also still attend your signing on appointment and seek paid employment. Any interviews will have to be attended but any time lost from placement will be made up in own time. You continue to receive JUST Jobseekers Allowance.

The scheme does not look good to people from foreign climes. I had one person say it was barbaric.

The company concerned must ensure a full and frank apology is given to all those affected by actions. It would appear, judging by media seen, the issue is being avoided.

The scheme should just provide work experience for the young and inexperienced or even those wishing to change careers. It shouldn’t be punishing those genuinely trying to fond work. It isn’t just healthy Jobseekers affected either, the sick and disabled are being forced onto this scheme too. The government should be ashamed of themselves. I hope better rules come into force to protect others from experiencing what those poor souls experienced this weekend.

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