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Latest message from Martin Pollecoff, Chair of UKCP, which reflects the significant shift in the professional bodies' approach to unpaid work. I have been in touch with Martin about this, this week and previously, and it seems clear that he wants to see a real change. As his letter says, the PCU and other grass-roots groups like Counsellors Together, have had a crucial impact in pushing for change. We'll are thinking about how PCU responds to continue to push this forward. Richard Bagnall-Oakley, PCU Chair

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Dear friends

Over time an accommodation that was originally beneficial to everyone involved has grown oppressive and the unpaid nature of trainess doing their hours in charities has become a problem for us. I am strident upon this issue and plavce it on the agenda of every meeting with our close partners BACP and we try and get our heads round solutions that support our trainees and the charities.

I have the backing of our board who agree that we have to come to some accommodation with the charitires and work with them on this difficult issue.

 
At a time when employment has become precarious and real wages have fallen, who can afford a working day without pay, especially when that’s a day a week for several years?  
 
I am sure that every charity and charity worker supports the spirit of the Minimum Wage Act wage and all it entails: being able to put food on the table and feeling that you and your work are of value. But there is a let out clause in that act – volunteers in a charity are exempt from protection. 
 
The Charity Commission emphasises the importance of social mobility and diversity, every charity would agree and that’s impossible without payment for trainees.
 
Fifteen years ago trainees were pretty much assured jobs in the NHS. Today the jobs advertised in the NHS are not for psychotherapists or counsellors, with the exception of family therapists. These approaches are derided within the Savoy Group, yet the NHS and charities are eager to use our trainees for free whilst our graduates are excluded from the paid workforce. The social contract has been broken, but not by us.
 
Of course, people demand change. The Facebook page Counsellors Together UK is about this single issue and it has 2800 members. The Psychotherapists and Counsellors Union are all over this.  
 
We prepare our students well – charities get good therapists - mature graduates who already have far more training than any qualified IAPT worker. They are eager to be of service but between us we have created a situation that, in any field, would be considered abusive.
 
The solutions are not easy and I would welcome your suggestions: martin.pollecoff@ukcp.org.uk
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