Is unpaid work better than no work?

I met a Shared Lives carer recently who told me about the effort he’d put into helping to get a job for the young man who lived with him. We’ll call the Shared Lives carer Mark and the man who lived with him Pete. Pete is mad about cars and really wanted to work in a car showroom. When Pete was out, Mark took it upon himself to visit all the car showrooms in the area to tell them about Pete and to ask if there was any chance of him doing some work with them. He told me he decided to do this by himself rather than with Pete because he didn’t like the idea of Pete facing the inevitable rejection he thought he’d find. This caution was borne out by the showroom owner who was willing to let Pete do some work at his showroom but said some worrying things about disabled people, so Mark turned him down and explained why, much to his indignation. Eventually Mark found a car hire shop who were up for it and who he felt would treat Pete with respect. Pete still works there, washing cars. He’s happy there and treated like one of the boys by the other workers, to the extent that Mark has had to give him some pointers about when you can and can’t quote car mechanics’ jokes in “polite” company…

It’s a great example of the way that Shared Lives carers go the extra mile. And then run a marathon for good measure.

The only thing is, Pete doesn’t get paid for the work he does. Continue reading