The DWP asks a woman to work unpaid on a campaign to boost paid work for women

Esther McVey Holyrood Committee 16 April 2018

The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) has found itself in hot water once again after asking a woman to work for free. Ironically, it was for a campaign specifically focused on getting woman into paid work.

Freelance creative producer and writer Amber Massie-Blomfield exposed the government department in a brutal takedown on Twitter. The scathing open email has now been shared online thousands of times.


As the Mirror reports, the Her Way campaign at the DWP is designed to “empower” women into paid work. The campaign also claims to showcase “routes into employment”. But the DWP told the freelance writer it couldn’t pay contributors, and the work should only take up “a few hours” time.

The campaign headed up by the DWP states that women are “often caught up in conflicting messages about their work”.

“Brilliant Smackdown”

In the open letter response to the DWP, Massie-Blomfield laid bare the hypocrisy of the government department. The freelancer wrote:

You particularly asked me to share my insights on how to go freelance. I am willing to share one piece of advice you may wish to pass on: Some people will take you for a mug. Don’t let them.

You can have that one pro bono.

Read on...

Many social media users were quick to back the freelance writer. One praised her “brilliant smackdown” of the department:

While another suggested this behaviour was something they had come to expect of the DWP:

DWP Response

Responding to questions about the situation, a DWP spokesperson said:

We are working on a campaign to encourage girls and women to consider diverse career opportunities through sharing stories from real life role models.

We are not asking people to work for free. If people want to get involved voluntarily we are providing all the support needed to tell their story.

In an interview with the Big Issue, Massie-Blomfield confirmed she wouldn’t be taking the matter any further. She said:

I felt confident enough to turn around and call them out on that unacceptable practice but I do wonder how many other people starting out in their careers, others in more pressing circumstances would feel able to respond like I have.

The writer has rightly received widespread praise for her decision to publicly challenge the DWP. It’s crucial people continue to expose the working practises of the controversial government department, however unlikely it might be that the DWP will learn from its mistakes.

Get Involved!

– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.

Featured Image via screengrab

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed