Friday, 10 December 2010

Family Champion

Emma Harrison of A4e is today being appointed "family champion" by the government. She was interviewed on the Radio 4 Today programme this morning (very early - I missed it) but you can hear it here. She said that she wanted to turn all families with long-term unemployment into "working families" and to do it she will "cut across all this stuff" such as drugs. Someone will be appointed to work with each family; they are being referred to as "Emmas" by the government, apparently. The interviewer pressed her on what would be done differently, but we didn't really get an answer. Harrison herself will have six families to work with, and she cited one of her families where no one had ever worked, but within an hour and a half she'd got them doing voluntary work, giving them back their pride and turning them into a "working family".
Harrison says she is not being paid for this. But of course she wouldn't need to be; the publicity is priceless. This has been a goal of A4e for some time, to get whole families into their orbit. Look out for more media coverage today.


  1. Volunteering is increasingly being seen by the powers that be as a pathway to employment, and indeed it can be for many people - however, volunteering isn't cost free to organise and manage. There's already a strong network of volunteer centres and a pool of expertise. In fact, Greater London Volunteering has a campaign currently all about Big Society, volunteering and not reinventing the wheel. It's called Community Experts - find out more at

  2. The interview was quite 'fluffy' - Emma wouldn't be pinned down would she?? She believes passionately about this particular subject, however, as usual her six families will be outstanding successes as she will use all her contacts and staff to ensure they have the best. She is also on the ay to achieving one of her life ticks again and that is is to be a leading light for the government. Let's just watch this space. The sentiment is real, but in practice?

  3. And how much will that scheme cost the taxpayers and how viable ..... Also she says she got the family working within an hour and a half - really?

    I question “The sentiment is real” (ruthy59 ) Sure - but the reason for that "real sentiment" is money - always.

    Today I, (one of her 130 clients ..... ), have an interview with my Adviser and I think it will be the last one as my year there is almost up. I have needed guidance but they failed to offer me anything. The new well since April central London office is lovely tand beautifully equipped though .....

  4. Organisations such as Home-Start are already doing wonderful work with families with young children- they prevent the children of today being the disfunctional, non-working families of tomorrow.

  5. Hey Historian, at least give a hat-tip to intensiveactivity; not all the unemployed are up that early in the morning :-)

  6. I certainly don't believe that 'the sentiment is real'.
    People who've been forced to attend her courses rarely seem to either.

    She seems to be one of these self help gurus who's words actually mean very little when analysed.

    What does this mean?
    "and to do it she will "cut across all this stuff" such as drugs."

    Does it mean that all we have to do to solve the drug problem is to cut across it?

  7. I am a single white male. I don't do drugs, only drink on rare occasions, and lead a (fairly) healthy & active lifestyle. In addition, I also have a wide range of "life skills". What I don't have is a stable long term job - How does this woman intend to guide me in to worthwhile and stable employment that will last until I retire in twenty years ?


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