Value unpaid/emotional labour

Volunteer work is work.

“My client Emma does not have a job that many people in society regard as a ‘job’. She has three children: three, five and eight years old. Taking care of them takes much time, and the crèche and pre-school are too expensive for her. As Emma recently divorced, she is financially struggling; finding a job is hard as she has a limited educational history and has only worked for a short time before she got pregnant and became a full-time mother. Despite her own struggles, she is always there for others: she volunteers in her community centre and people see her as the foundations of the centre, and a beacon of support for anyone who needs it; her organising and empathising skills are unique. The courses in the community centre help individuals to find a job, and to develop essential life skills to be able to live a better life and possibly even be a better citizen. Thanks to Emma, hundreds of individuals receive this help. But DWP does not see this as a job. Emma has to find “a proper job”, she has been told. What does this mean: a proper job? Her colleagues and clients in the community centre were extremely angry at DWP as they are losing Emma, the foundations of their centre. Due to the leave of Emma, the centre will work less efficient, and not be able to support all these clients to develop their skills and find a job; society on the whole will suffer a bit. Emma has been looking for a job as a cleaner, the only option she has with her lack of education. The job will actually not give her much more income than her benefits as the child care cost her too much. Society misses out a great opportunity here. We need to value the essential work of parenting and volunteering: the society runs on these jobs. Without adequate parents and volunteers, our society risks collapsing.”

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