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Aside from angry posts to the Guardian venting my ire about the government's slave labour scheme I am facing my next Work Programme appointment, number 4 in fact. This time it will be conducted over the phone tomorrow. I have no idea when that will be, typically, which is why I'm not a huge fan of telephones, but it's better than turning up at the cold cramped and utterly unsuitable church hall.

Now that I think about it, I'm, of course, beginning to dread it. Naturally. This is because they have nothing to offer, have no experience or ability to deal with people that have the problems I have (god forbid if they have to deal with more serious cases - but then that's why they expect you to have a carer), and yet expect to get results, so they can get paid. It's a mess. So I anticipate an expectation of progress in some form. The only progress has been in the severity of my anxiety, something they of course can't help with. I'm still waiting for the support they claim they can refer me to. No doubt that will vapourise and they will, again, revise their previous claims and comments. I don't really know how much longer I can sit back and be wrong footed like that. It forces you to become passive and scapegoated - as if you misunderstood them while they explained to you what actually happens. 

I was sent some brochures for casual (ie stuff that won't get you a job) evening classes last time. That's the extent of their ability to offer training: expensive private courses that are merely casual affairs - no formal qualifications etc. Now there's nothing wrong with such things, but these aren't really going to lead me anywhere and, more importantly, they are extremely expensive. I'm not entirely sure what the expectation was with that, maybe they'll offer to fund them, but I presume they expect me to take up something like Modern Patchwork (I'm being a bit disingenuous, but that;'s the sort of stuff). The idea was to do 'Creative Writing' though I'm not sure why, since - at the risk of sounding very arrogant - I can already write (don't judge from this, I don't proofread or draft what I type here). Such a course is unlikely to really lead anywhere; it's just a casual outlet. More pertinently, there are no courses listed for under £60 (not including other expenses such as getting there). These are casual workshops that wont address my problems nor really help to get a job - they aren't really intended to either, I don't think.

I'm not trying to be negative (it comes naturally), but if fobbing me off with a list of workshops run at the local vegetarian cafe is really the best the Work Programme can offer, and it's what they expect me to do on pain of...well that's what worries me - workfare? Sanctions? Non compliance? If that's what's expected of me, because that's the best they can do, then, frankly, why bother?

It seems really, criticism aside, that what they expect of the client is far more than what the client can reasonably expect from them. It's far from a partnership. It's just a joke. The point I'm trying to make isn't to have a knock at casual workshops and casual community centre courses, it's great such things are provided. But is this really the best I can expect from the flagship back to work scheme tasked with dealing with people of all backgrounds, particularly people with mental health issues? A nice bit of macrame will sort me out?


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I Fucking Hate the Work Programme

That did not go well.
My legs were wobbly to begin with as I closed in on the church that passes for the office of the employment wing of the Salvation Army. My appointment was 3 to half past. I really did feel sick. Pretty early on, when he asked for the forms he gave me last time to fill in, I knew that what was arranged on the letter (a short interview with me bringing my CV and jobsearch) was actually going to be much longer. I also knew that, come half three when I had to leave to catch my bus back ten minutes later, I was going to have problems. 
Unfortunately, though more for me I fear, it never got that far; at 20 past he terminated the interview citing my apparent 'putting up barriers' as the reason not to continue. This was because I refused consent for him to keep my CV. I asked why he needed it and offered, three times, to show it to him (that's all), he said it was to apply for jobs on my behalf. The EEC's need this information.
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Well that's that for pursuing a diagnosis for Aspergers or anything remotely similar.

I contacted the Patient Advisory Liaison Service (PALS) to try and sort this out after being lied to by the clinician regarding referring me to the ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) people. That never happened and she continues to deny saying she would. Of course I cannot prove this and so the patient-doctor dynamic kicks in: I'm the lowly patient, she's the expert doctor, her reputation versus mine and so who wins?

I could make a complaint, but what would be the point. I might get a nice letter in a few months time saying sorry in a mealy mouthed way, but it doesn't get me any closer to what I need. That being a diagnosis, a formal, written and recorded, recognition of the issues I deal with. Lacking that, dealing with the systems in society, chiefly the DWP, becomes more difficult. Unfortunately the medical profession doesn't seem to care about that.

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