From This is Plymouth….

Jubilee jobs: ‘whingers may jeopardise work chances’

HOPES of work for dozens of jobless people could be dashed by bad publicity surrounding a controversial Jubilee trip, charity bosses fear.

Sixty Plymouth security trainees found themselves at the centre of a media storm this week after they worked in London as stewards at the Jubilee celebrations.

The group of 40 apprentices and 20 long-term unemployed over 25 have been on a Government Welfare to Work programme with the charity Tomorrow’s People.

They were offered work experience by the security firm Close Protection UK (CPUK), with the offer of paid work to follow during the Olympic Games.

But the trip turned sour after some of the trainees complained about having to wait for several hours under London Bridge, and conditions at the Essex campsite where they were housed.

But yesterday a spokesman for Tomorrow’s People said they had been interviewing people who were on the trip. “The vast majority are saying it was a positive experience and they loved it,” he said.

“Obviously there were issues and we are keen to understand those.

“It’s a concern that CPUK’s contract for the Olympics might be at risk because of this. It would be the cruellest irony if all this negative publicity meant the opportunity to get jobs was put in jeopardy.”

One Plymouth man who was on the trip was Adam Horkins, aged 26, from Stonehouse, who has been unemployed for two years.

Mr Horkins said: “This was a good opportunity for me. We could earn decent money during the Olympic Games. All that could be taken away because of the negative opinions of a couple of people.”

He rejected claims that there were no toilets available while they waited to start work. “We had access to portable toilets,” he said. “There were 11,000 portable toilets around London at the weekend.”

And he added: “People claimed the campsite where we stayed was swampy. With the amount of rain we had, show me a field that wasn’t muddy. But it wasn’t a swamp.

“There were washing and toilet facilities and a place where we could go to get dry and warm.

“The security firm supplied us with tents, and if we needed them with sleeping bags and roll mats.”

Rod Peters, aged 42, from Whitleigh, said: “I am worried that a few whingers will jeopardise our chances of getting work at the Olympics.

“It was the experience of a lifetime. People were paying £1,000 to stand in the Buckingham Palace grounds for the Diamond Jubilee Concert and I was there for free.”

Bosses from Tomorrow’s People will meet Plymouth council leader Tudor Evans next week to discuss the controversy.

Paul Champion

📱: 07540 704920

Twitter: @blogapprentice
Skype: paulchampion31

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