I hung clothes for Scope for a few years. Not rewarding in itself but I felt I was ‘giving back’ and showing willing. Not exactly the best use of a double First from Southampton University but having low-self esteem I believed then that as a disabled person I did not deserve to be paid for sub-standard work done at less than average speeds. I had proved persistence and a work ethic without hanging clothes and it taught me nothing except that humanity and camraderie is found amongst those in low paid jobs who deserve more credit and more pay.
Workfare is a rather different concept. All hidden agenda and the lies that it is all jobs for teenagers and shirkers & with REAL paid work at the end…As REAL volunteers no-one implies that you are leftie scum or useless write off disabled scum who DESERVE no pay, not even in Scope where the manager said ‘all volunteers are useless’ in the hearing of two brain-injured volunteers.
For a daily sense of personal achievement, I would have preferred scrubbing floors – I love cleaning- but had to reject JCPlus’s Disability Employment Advisor’s suggestion of a cleaning job as it is tricky on sticks. Neither disability charities nor JCP seemed to see that someone with an English degree and physical difficulties might have actual SKILLS better employed in less physical roles. I did not object to ‘unpaid labour’ when what I was doing was VOLUNTARY, even if my reasons for accepting a low status were dubious. I now question why I thought my work was not worthy of pay and have done since a MP stood up and said ‘the disabled should work for less/nothing because they are worth-less’. Lightbulb moment no. 1: I was a colluding in my own subjugation. THIS was what it REALLY meant to be discriminated against.
Unpaid work? THIS rant is unpaid work if it is useful to the disability community and for the education of the masses. If I am going to do unpaid work, it had better be useful to THE COMMUNITY NOT some massive corporation.