Trust Thamesmead's training and job search department Building Futures took to the national radio air waves on Thursday, 11 November, in response to the government's plans for reforming the welfare and benefits system.
BBC Radio 5 Live contacted us after reading about Building Futures on the Trust Thamesmead website, asking if we could help find people who are on benefits and looking for work.
In stepped Building Futures Project Manager Sharron Hawe, who identified four clients who proved to be brilliant case studies for the programme; all local people who were on benefits but who all challenged the usual perception of people who didn't want to work and were only interested in state handouts.
Trust Thamesmead's Marketing and Communications Manager Elaine Johnson said: “First on air were Johnny and Katie who were surprised to discover they were talking live to the Secretary for State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan-Smith.
“Johnny, a former soldier who has served two tours of duty in Iraq, told the Minister that he'd wanted to apply for a job but was told he couldn't because that particular job was only available to someone who had been unemployed for six months.
“Somewhat taken aback by this the Minister has said he is personally going to look into his case.
“Over to you Mr Duncan-Smith - the BBC will be coming back to you this week if Johnny hasn't heard from you by then!
Katie claims disability benefit and told the Minister that until she became ill she had a great job. She was out of work because she wasn't well enough to work not because she didn't want to work and wanted to be assured that the changes wouldn't make her worse off.
Elaine said: “Then it was the turn of Ray and Anne-Marie who spoke really well, explaining their personal circumstances and seeking reassurance that life, already tough for them, wouldn't get tougher with the reforms.”
Sharron added: “Hopefully this will challenge the negative perception of the unemployed and many of the difficulties that they face. Building Futures works intensively with real people and not just statistics and encourages and supports them to build on their life skills and return to employment.”
Finally Elaine said: “It's also important to note that all four interviewees were full of praise for the support they have had and are still having from the Building Futures team.”