Tuesday 18 August 2015.
Dear Mr Cameron,
A more miserable, dingy, soul destroying, prospect I cannot imagine. Your government plans to send young unemployed people to boot camps where, ‘They will get an initial three-week intensive course of practising job applications and interviews, which will then be regularly reviewed by a dedicated job coach’. Cabinet Office minister Matt Hancock has denied the boots camps are a form of punishment but ‘about giving more support to young people’. Really? I felt punished just reading about it. ‘Boot camps’, a dismal name for a dismal programme. Road kill is more inspiring.
You have battalions of PR peddlers and spin doctors at your beck and call, you were paid £90,000 a year working for Carlton television in PR and Priti Patel, Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions, worked in PR, apparently pulling £165 an hour, and then there’s your Nudge Unit and not one person could come up with anything more inspiring than ‘Boot camps’? For Hancock to deny any punitive intent is simply derisory. It has all the appeal of a heart attack, but lacking the drama.
Here’s an idea right off the top of my head, for free, but do feel free to put a cheque in the post. Why not hire a building or set of offices and employ a whole bunch (a bit like a swarm but sounding less like locusts or immigrants) of young people to research adventure training, phoning round adventure centres across the UK and Europe, places like the Ardeche in France and Glenmore Lodge in Scotland or Alpine ski training via Action Outdoors UK? The young people thus employed would learn bargaining skills on the job and how to facilitate training courses and book young people in. They could advise and help with travel arrangements, hire and provide adventure assistants to travel with and support the young people and look out for them and any problems that might arise.
I am not suggesting all that should be available is adventure courses and training, those employed in the, let’s call it – The Blue Sky Project, could talk to those coming in and ask what they might be interested in and help them search for places to follow their interests. I would also suggest including a community snack bar area with computer access, for discussions, relaxation and online activity. Such an area might also provide useful chef training and provide hot meals for homeless people and be open to the local community as well.
I’d suggest a couple of pilot projects in areas with high levels of unemployed young people set up by project managers drawn from anywhere but government departments or the DWP in collaboration with local young people so that they are involved from the start. You might just find that with something to put on their CV’s and with a desire to further spread their wings, the projects could provide individual help for young people in seeking work of their choice who might even be excited to put together a CV that would enable them to further themselves. Or you could just carry on and force young people into boot camps and bore them senseless under threat of sanctions. If we can afford £93 billion in handouts to corporations, I am sure we could find several million for something better than soul destroying Boot Camps. But what do I know eh?