Lifetime's Fairy Jobmother Waves Her Wand Over Welfare Families
Great Britain's Fairy Job Mother Hayley Taylor wasn't brought to the United States to work with the corporate executive whose severance is running out. She didn't come to help the recent grad who can't even find a job as a barista. Her new series on Lifetime, produced by the same people who bring you 'Undercover Boss,' mirrors her series in England; she shows people verging on homelessness how to help themselves. It isn't often pretty, and sometimes it's downright shocking.
In the first episode, for example, which premieres Oct. 28, right after the glitz and glamor of the 'Project Runway' season finale, we meet a family so forlorn that Taylor has to explain to them basic concepts, such as that dog feces piling up on the bedroom floor is inappropriate; that weeks' worth of unwashed dishes and moldering food in the kitchen could be a health hazard; and that if you don't pay your rent, you will be evicted.
This young family, which includes two able-bodied parents and two toddlers, has been on welfare for years, and seems completely unprepared for the inevitability of government funds running out. Taylor appears to catch them just in time -- literally as the eviction notice is being posted. Her goal is to to help the parents find viable jobs in a matter of days.
Only in America?
Welcome to America. AOL Jobs asked Taylor if things are that bad in the United Kingdom. "All families everywhere suffer similar setbacks," Taylor asserted in her strong, British accent. "The welfare systems and the settings are different, but the problems are the same." She did say that she was uniquely "horrified by the dog pooh," but explained, "They saw that as normal. You would think people would bother to clean up [especially when they knew cameras were coming] but that's the way they choose to live." It's a testimony to how desperately she is needed.
Taylor knocks on the doors of the neediest of families, and helps them with whatever is contributing to their unemployed rut. She goes beyond basic resume writing, job search and interview skills, also coaching them on budgeting, cleanliness and hygiene, family relations and parenting skills.
In fact, you'll notice quite a few similarities between Taylor and ABC's Super Nanny Jo Frost. Both are dark-haired, full-figured Brits who crouch down to basic levels to help families take control, although Taylor is a less conservative dresser. You'll see her sporting cleavage, shorts, and a sassy signature neck scarf.
Been there, done that
Taylor knows from personal experience what it's like to try and raise a family when the parents are un- or under-employed. She dropped out of high school, went to beauty school, and noticed she had a knack for tutoring -- adults in particular. After a number of professional ups and downs, Taylor found the ideal position managing unemployed volunteers gaining work experience.
Her innovative methods and success lead to her being featured in a three-part British series called 'Benefit Busters,' which then led to Studio Lambert offering her her own 'Fairy Jobmothe'r series on U.K. TV. Studio Lambert is also responsible for 'Undercover Boss,' creating the American version from the original British series.
"I've been out of work and my husband has lost his job," Taylor said. "I've pulled myself out by staying determined and strong. When people told me I wouldn't amount to much, that gave me the will to succeed and prove them wrong." It's that determination and sense of independence that she tries to convey to the families she counsels. "When we're at a low point in life, sometimes we can't see what's right in front of our faces, and we need a third person to come in and point it out."
Helping people help themselves
While the Fairy Jobmother hands out plenty of advice, she doesn't hand out cash, child-care assistance, training/education funds, grants or pricey interview outfits. "The clothing comes from thrift stores, and I do a lot of research for each family," she said, noting that she digs up extensive, personalized information about all things career and life-related that will better equip them to become self sufficient.
"This is to help them take control for themselves," she said. "When I leave, everything is in place." She also stays in touch. "I like to keep them motivated -- I don't drop them afterward."
Taylor promises that all eight families in this season's episodes are very different. She deals with addiction, Katrina recovery in Louisiana, and some very heated situations. "It's understandable that they get mad and become confrontational," she explained, adding that there's lots of emotion, both from Taylor herself and the families. Lifetime is betting that viewers will get emotionally involved as well.
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