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Tea and Sympathy?

That was not as painful as I had anticipated.

But before I got there, and even until I spoke to the person I was to see, the manager, it was terrifying. I stood at the door for a few seconds before entering and felt like i was going to puke up my own beating heart. Even when I stepped inside I could still hear the ominous tones of my favourite adviser, from within the churhc hall itself, fortunately out of sight. I imagined him sat on the stage as some grand overseer, playing pandemonium on a church organ and conducting the affairs of the few jobseekers (presumably) within. 

There was about 5 people in the place, which meant there was no room at all for me, never mind the possibility of having a private discussion. They were sat around laptops connected to the web (so the place at least has Internet access). I couldn't really see what they were browsing, I thought they might all be mind linked to Universal Jobmatch. Once again the environment was totally unsuitable, there's no privacy, no room to do things properly. 

My contact was not present at the time; she had taken another customer to a cafe to speak to them privately as they were having a difficult time, I would discover. At this point I'm starting to really get frustrated now; I'm extremely stressed and the one person that wasn't my awful adviser who was there to help didn't know when she'd be back and couldn't process my bus ticket. Things are not off to a promising start. Fortunately the manager was quick to return. 

I get her to refund my bus ticket, wanting to get that out the way and she offers to take me to the cafe she'd just been to as she agrees there's zero privacy (there's barely room to swing an unemployed cat). While not ideal it's a lot better than that place - and I can be somewhere that awful adviser isn't.

Ok, that's enough scene setting. She sits down and explains to me some of the reasons, from her perspective (how true any of it is is not for me to decide, I have to give her the benefit of the doubt), why things are the way they are. I'm not initially impressed when, predictably, she defends her colleague saying he's one of the best she's working with, though later she concedes he's a 'by the book' kind of guy - you're not kidding.

The reason they are based in a church is because they don't get any funding. I was under the impression there is an initial fee for each customer that gets referred, perhaps that's just not true or not enough to cover costs. Either way this is why they don't have nice offices and have to resort to using their existing facilities, ie Salvation Army church halls. She even agrees that it's far from ideal. I'm getting a small insight into the Work Programme from someone who, I think it's fair to say, isn't 100% happy with how it's working. 

She tells me that they get no help from the Government and an interesting scenario is mentioned: people that are on the Programme that move out of the area are still expected to comply with the Programme - with the people to whom they were referred. There is no transfer system; apparently she's having to stay in touch with people that have moved to the other end of the country and dish out expenses for people getting help now living a couple of hundred miles away in another town altogether! The programme is so ill conceived that it just doesn't accommodate the providers at all. I'm not unsympathetic, since it's us that have to bear the brunt of this massive mess, but I do wonder what they were thinking when they agreed to this contract in the first place? Were they lied to? I don't ask, it didn't seem pertinent and I doubt she'd be in a position to help.

Ultimately she agrees to contact me over the phone once a month, conceding that travelling to such an unsuitable environment isn't in my best interests. Again, now that I'm on ESA, she can be more helpful. It's ridiculous; the government tout this scheme as flexible and completely open to how the provider wants to help their customer. Clearly that's bollocks, complete bollocks: if you're on JSA they have to do certain things (though what those are remains unknown, I hope I never find out). She even admits to having to deal with lots of terrified customers and says she works in another capacity to allay those fears in vulnerable people. In fact when the customer she saw before me was in such a state that dfealing with them in the church hall was also out of the question. 

This is a more positive outcome and to be fair she does seem to be more understanding and genuinely helpful than the person previously. There's no point me going over that situation to her so the best thing is to hope for a new start. How long this will last depends on the ESA process. Again there is nothing the Work Programme can do to help in that regard; they have no medical training of any kind. They cannot refer me to anyone that might be able to help with the issues I face so again that falls back into the purview of my GP. Again this disconnected situation remains, but I don't suppose that's her fault. Again it confirms just how poorly put together and ideologically motivated, at the expense of real help, the Work Programme is. If even the organisations that run it as providers can't get funding to do it properly - and one can certainly question why they are even running it if that's the case - then what hope do the rest of us have. All we can do is make the best of a bad situation.


  1. Well I'm glad things worked out for you to some extent, but yet again your provider is being shown up as utterly incompetent and unsuited to deliver any kind of meaningful support to people who need it most.

    The more I read the more it seems the WP will eventually be exposed as the most scandalous waste of public money so far this century. I can only wonder how those responsible will be able to wriggle out of responsibility for the mess they have created - not to mention the lives destroyed by the whole sorry mess.

    1. If i give the SA the benefit of the doubt here then the WP is just a mess for all concerned. I'm still not sure why anyone would sign up as providers if they knew funding was an issue (which they must have done). So either these people are incredibly stupid or they've massively been lied to by either the government, or the prime providers who may have used them as 'bid candy'. SA are working for Rehab Jobfit and obviously Jobfit give them no money. Perhaps they thought that was how it would work out?

      Either way the provision is pretty perfunctory and frankly a bit hopeless. They can fund a few things, perhaps a casual creative writing course at the local community centre. That's all well and good, but is it going to lead anywhere? Doubtful. Do they have anything to offer that can? Doubtful - not unless it's the customer searching on the internet. That's all that seemed to be on offer in the church hall; five people sat around laptops looking at stuff online. Is that really it?

  2. a few years ago i was with standguide training, I had just started an Open University course about creative writing, this was when it was being there 30 hours a week, Now i have half the exam results that would be counted to get a BA. I told my adviser there that i am doing a creative writing course as it would help me get back into education and work towards the BA which would get me a job. They said if they caught me doing anything other than jobsearch (old papers older computers) they would sanction me,. I was too exhausted after sitting there to do anything. so I cancelled the course (the tutor was particularly nasty when i said i am finding it hard to find the time)

    1. The methodology of the WP seems to be to tick the boxes they want you to tick. They get money and you (might) get help. No guarantee of course. However none of it really seems to address the problems: they can't give you jobs, create work or really improve your chances. Even if they dres sy your cv and make you work for nothing, you won't be alone so you'll end up competing with all the other people in the same position with the same dressed up cv and the same 'work experience'. Meanwhile the economy goes down the tubes, more people lose their jobs and more people get assessed by ATOS and put onto this scheme.

  3. I saw this on Johnny Void's site and I thought it might be of interest to you. The Sally Army do use workfare slaves under the auspices of the MWA programme, despite their denials. Have you been threatened with any "Work Placements" whilst on the WP?

    Link here

  4. Oh well ignore the above comment - it seems you were aware anyway.

    There is an entire taxpayer-funded industry growing in this country, whos sole function is the procurement of unpaid workers for the charity and "voluntary" sectors. This is scandalous, not least in how those involved are allowed to lie and obfuscate their way past scrutiny. What's worse is how many of those put through workfare are treated - if any other section of society were treated as shoddily as are the unemployed and disabled there would be a national outcry.

    1. Yes, I just happened across this actually, but thanks for the link.

      The barefaced bullshit on display is just galling: they claim they don't force people to workfare (well, there's some semantic prestidigitation going on of course, just enough to get them out of trouble), but they clearly do. Bang to rights.

  5. I quote two bible quotes at them. And the LORD says, “What sorrow awaits Jehoiakim, who builds his palace with forced labor. He builds injustice into its walls, for he makes his neighbors work for nothing. He does not pay them for their labor.
    Jeremiah 22:13

    “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers. Proverbs 6:16-19″

    He he he

    1. I'm sure the good lord will look the other way when the SA bung him a few quid.


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