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The Gravy Train

Went to the doctor (as the song goes...) yesterday. Stress levels and anxiety are increased since last week. It's hard for people to understand; the sense of pervasive dread dealing with the welfare system and living in this increasingly hate filled society. It clouds your mind. That's how I feel; like a fog in my head all the time. You can't think clearly - specifically you can't think beyond a single issue that fills your consciousness. It's not conducive to a healthy state of being. A general feeling of being on the edge; of not being able to cope. How is the Work Programme supposed to help with this? I explained it all to the GP in a way that I think he might be starting to get, though he can't do anything. I'm still waiting on an asperger's diagnosis. Getting these things done is key to getting help because the system is all about ticking the box to open up doors.
I have to sign on this Friday. It's that time again. The dread is starting to build, like an impending emotional eclipse. Is this how people like me are supposed to live? Where is the help? I suspect that I will be sent to the Work Programme, but I have been anticipating that possibility for a while as it's always been on the horizon. Frankly I'm dreading that as well. I don't want to have to attend another office, filled with people I don't know (as well as staff motivated by money and not experience or trained in individual needs). I also don't want to have to explain to these people the bus schedule when having to tell them I can't make certain appointment slots and times because the buses don't run.
What I would like is that which the system is supposed to be: individually tailored and flexible to personal needs. What I don't want is what Working Links was (to whom I was referred when i started claiming ESA a couple of years ago). At first they made all the right noises and were sympathetic and helpful when I rang them to voice my concerns in light of the JC's lurid referral and it's threats of benefit termination upon non compliance. Even the first (of five) appointment was positive; the lady told me that if we agreed it wasn't going to work, having voiced my concerns these people weren't doctors and that my problems needed therapy of some kind not jobsearching, we could call it quits. She even assured me there'd be no comeback from the JC as they would explain it wasn't me not complying; it would be Working Links saying they couldn't help me.
That all changed from the second interview onwards. It changed completely 180 degrees. I was asked what I was interested in and what I would like to do, etc, and was met with a brick wall of complete disinterest. They couldn't help with this that or the other. When I then said that I would like to call it quits as it clearly wasn't productive I was accused of calling her a liar and she 'wasn't a liar'. And from there it went downhill; appointment times were poorly kept, appointments would overrun and I would be blamed for that. I was offered telephone appointments which, when I said 'could I think about it' was told that i had to give an answer there and then, like a gameshow contestant. Demanded an answer, to be more accurate (because she had a meeting to go to and I wouldn't be able to ring her back later on that day, apparently). I did agree to telephone consultations only to find she manipulated her schedule and deliberately called me way earlier than was agreed with no effort to call me back at agreed times. When I subsequently rang to find out what happened I got the blame as if it was my fault I was late or something. I remember asking about financial help (their website advertised help through their listed case studies including paying for use of a driving simulator and another guy to have his guitar repaired as he wanted to teach guitar) and had that thrown back in my face because what I was looking for wouldn't directly get me work (unlike the above examples of course). Everything was met with an attitude of 'you're not engaging with the process', in fact this point was made explicitly, even though I was attending all the appointments and punctually and telling them what they wanted to know. Just not what they wanted to hear.
Truth is all they wanted was people to turn up, sit in their 'job club' and use their facilities to search the crappy DWP site for jobs in local supermarkets. Easy money for them; we all know how it works.
I don't want to go through all that kind of crap again, and certainly not for two years.
Interestingly, at the time I had self referred (ie without JC help) to a local branch of Tomorrow's People. Appointments with them were made in a private and altogether more suitable facility (the Carlton Centre, Weston super Mare). The advisor was much more amenable, friendly and realistic (ie she knew what was on the cards and that it was all about funding). When I was referred to Working Stinks there was initially a conflict of interest: the JC+ want me to attend the people they pay which potentially meant having to forfeit the people I was already seeing. Even though this didn't happen, thankfully, the logical option would have been for the DWP to facilitate me seeing whom I had already established a relationship with, but that was never on the table. So I ended up seeing both. They were pretty appalled about Working Links and I was told about word of mouth of similar experiences (for what it's worth, to be fair).
This is the unemployment gravy train. People say that the unemployed don't contribute economically; they are dead weight. That's bullshit. They are the motivating force for this entire industry - and that's what it is. Companies such as WL are coining it in through these contracts and their relationship with the government of the day and we are losing out. They make money at our expense. So who really is the true scrounger?


  1. Hello,

    Would be great if you could make it to Defend Welfare gathering on 23rd October in London –

    If not, let us know if there’s anything you’d like to feed in and we’ll try and stay in touch!

  2. Thanks.

    Unfortunately I don't live anywhere near London (Somerset actually) and I can't afford to travel. My stress and anxiety make these sorts of things very difficult. However I shall be there in spirit and support any attempt to defend social security and the dignity of those whose only 'crime' is not to be working.

    I wish I had some answers; I support the citizen's wage personally, but the chances of that happening under IDS are...small.


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