Rubbish Jobs? No Way! the Work We Do Is Vital; LONDON JOBS

By Hyams, Jacky | The Evening Standard (London, England), July 21, 2003 | Go to article overview

Rubbish Jobs? No Way! the Work We Do Is Vital; LONDON JOBS


Hyams, Jacky, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: JACKY HYAMS

NATHALIE NADJIFOTIOU HEAD OF SOCIAL INCLUSION Many people who spent good money on The Sunday Times last week must have felt insulted when they saw their work derided as "rubbish jobs". Roles such as smoking cessation adviser, monitoring and evaluation officer and many others were dismissed as "silly" or "dubious". So was the attack well-founded? Jacky Hyams spoke to the people who know best - the ones doing the jobs HEADING up a staff of 10, Nathalie Nadjifotiou, 47, is the head of social inclusion for Southwark council and has been so for three years. Her role is crucial, she says, and accusations that it is merely job creation are grossly unfair.

"The majority of people who work within the public sector really want to make a difference to their local community. I can't tell you the numbers who work hours of unpaid overtime just to make that happen.

"Those who shout loudest have always managed to win in the end, but we are here for those who can't speak out, whose needs may be hidden and are therefore not being met.

"We take a broader view of equality than gender or racial discrimination; I deal with issues such as poverty, exclusion, crime, discrimination and racial diversity. This is a very mixed borough in terms of race and culture, those who have money - and those who don't.

"A major part of my job involves bringing together the police, health authority, youth and other council services on a variety of initiatives - all with the aim of trying to find new ways to improve things so that people can have a better life. I'm out and about a lot, talking to residents from different communities, talking to all the departments here. It's not a desk-bound job at all."

Nadjifotiou has worked at Southwark council for two decades in this field and has seen huge social changes. She says people don't understand t h at chang e takes time.

"For example, 20 years ago, nobody had given a thought to creche facilities at leisure centres so single parents could swim in peace while their children were looked after. Or the provision of dedicated swimming sessions for those with disabilities or learning difficulties-Nowadays, we accept initiatives like these as examples of a modern, caring society. But you need to take lots of small steps to get there."

She says the joy of the job comes from making a difference to just one life. …

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