Swearing allegiance – will it deliver inclusivity?

The press is full of the idea of councillors, NHS workers etc swearing allegiance to Great Britain in the hope this will ensure our diverse communities are embraced and included rather than isolated.


The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government as well as MP for Bromsgrove is a supporter of the idea.  I’m not sure swearing an oath will carry much weight.  It will certainly be meaningless to the members of our communities isolated by fear, religion, culture etc.


However, something Sajid also said made a lot more sense.  He told the story of visiting his GP when he was 8.  He wasn’t sick.  He was attending as translator for his mum who had lived in the UK for years but never learnt the language. Sometime later she did learn English and her life, as told by Sajid, opened up.


I meet a lot of people who have family members who do not speak English despite living in the UK for decades.  This of course means they can’t work, nor can they integrate with other communities.  Studying is difficult. Day-to-day life – such as a GP’s visit – depends on other family members.


Wouldn’t it break down more barriers between our diverse cultures if we all spoke the same language?  At least then conversation could be held, understanding would grow, integration and prosperity would then follow.


Is an oath of allegiance really needed? or is it more relevant to learn English?

Violent headlines – Compulsary reading? – but what about when the victim is known to you?

How many times has a headline grabbed you? ‘Young girl shot in East London’ , ‘knife crime takes another victim’ – you know the kind of headlines.  Written to attract our attention and seduce us to read the story.


A struggling journalist using sensationalism to get their name noticed.  We’re so used to these headlines, we rarely notice them.  When I was a child, a murder reported in the press would be spoken about for weeks/months.


What happened to the human race that life has become almost worthless?


Usually these headlines are followed by how nice the victim was.  What an inspiration and so on.


How many times do we speed read these features giving little attention to the victim, their friends and/or families.  Those left behind.  Do we ask questions about the events leading up to the tragic event or what lessons can be learned?


Usually, all of these thoughts flash through my mind before I put the paper to one side, carry one with my day and not think about the horror I’ve just read again.


But what about those people who do know –  the victim and/or their family/friends?


Over the weekend there was a feature on the local TV news and a piece in The Metro paper coming into London today of a 30 year old banker out with his friends on Saturday night.  Something happened – not 100% clear what from the reporting – but he ended up dead apparently receiving a serious of punches before later dying in hospital.


This was one feature I didn’t put to one side.  I knew the banker when he was a child.  I knew his mother better and the tough time she went though following her husband’s departure with her then best friend.


We lost touch many years ago but the story over the weekend brought home to me how fragile life really is.


Had my sons still lived at home, I would have given them a big hug.  Why don’t I give them a hug anyway ? Good question.  Until this tragic news, I would have said ‘life got in the way’.  Now I won’t miss an opportunity to give them a hug when they’re around.


What about you?……………. will you take more notice of your family/friends or wait until there is a victim in the press you know?



Don’t ask…….don’t get – the power of partnerships

With budget cuts and staff restructuring, it’s always difficult identifying, building and sustaining lasting business relationships.  Even more so in the public sector where new joiners generally receive a one year only renewable contract!


Running Growing Talent, I have a solid foundation of central managers from JobCentre Plus supporting the programme who know it very well.  The testing times come when local personnel get involved with little time to understand it.


A unique situation arose this week.  For the first time a Growing Talent Associate will be going into an international role.  A passport is critical.  How does someone who has been unemployed for a decade plus afford passport photos, let along the passport itself?


Negotiations commenced.  As a passport is essential to the end role, JobCentre Plus are able to cover all associated costs.


hallelujah!  Could you image the madness of someone not getting off benefits into a sustainable job due to the cost of a passport?


Surely our JobCentres should have the brief and funding to cover whatever an individual to secure a permanent, full-time job.  This could be a toolkit,  office clothes, shoes or passport even!


I know as a taxpayer funded organisation JobCentre Plus is accountable but am I the only taxpayer that would be happy to see more people go into work supported with whatever they need to do so?  It’s surely cheaper than a lifetime of benefits!

Google – An inconvenient truth?

As a fairly new micro business – total complement of one! – I do not know enough about the corporate world of tax efficiency/avoidance depending on which view you take to make a right/wrong judgement call.


What is clear every time I do my VAT Returns or my Annual Return and get the respective bills I would like to pay as little tax as possible!  Who wouldn’t?


I don’t take the view ‘if I’m paying this huge amount (relative to my business) – every business should’.  Part of my business is working in the world of getting unemployed people from all backgrounds to raise their self-esteem and be equipped to go into permanent, sustainable work.  I see all the time the positive impact employment makes on them, their families and their communities.


Organisations like Google might do what we all would like and pay as little tax as possible but they are a considerable employer in the UK.  They are building new offices here which has the domino effect of a positive impact on local businesses as well. Local people will secure jobs.  The outsourced companies Google contract will hire more people.  What is the value to UK plc of this?


Whilst the headlines are full of France’s push to secure 130bn Euros – how much will they actually secure and at what cost to France’s job market and business economy?


Instead of knee jerking at the media headlines, maybe some reflective thought before making judgements is needed?



Getting Growing Talent out there…………………..

Shamefully, I’d always thought people working in media, advertising agencies etc were ‘lovvies’ who didn’t really work that hard.  How wrong was I!

I learnt so much in the second meeting with the media agency yesterday.  Publicizing something is a science!  The cost for paper adverts is astronomical.  Where do you start with social media – it’s like a black hole!

Thankfully Initiative know what they are doing.  Lots of ideas and options were buzzing around the room.  It’s so difficult to put Growing Talent into a box.  It needs to be highlighted to both employers and the unemployed.  Unfortunately, they rarely look in the same medium.  This is quite a task we’ve set Initiative.

The Christmas break will give time to think about different options.  Looking forward to the next meeting in January to see the three ideas – Bronze, Silver and Gold versions – from Initiative – what a great name for a media agency!