Yesterday was telephone appointment time with Mrs Adviser at the Work Programme. With dismal predictability no one called so I rang them half an hour ago; they don't understand that it's difficult for me to have to sit and wait for people to contact me. Yet another waste of time. This is really starting to piss me off now because what can you say?
I won't go through the whole pointless affair but it's the usual crap. I'm told that the Work Programme is a two way street but when I reaffirm that I'm interested in writing she tells me that she doesn't know of anything. I'm supposed to pick something that she is able to offer help with, but I don't have an answer. It's a stupid game: guess the one or two things they can help with and bingo! Pick something else and be labelled as non participatory.
She tells me that she knows of loads of courses, but they are all basic level/NVQ stuff (they dont' fund above 'level 3' apparently - whatever level 3 means). You can't get a proper education, like a degree, out of this, even though it's probably cheaper than paying these clowns. There's loads of places, including online, that do training. Great, so what do I train in? I've no idea. How to be a drone? How to press buttons on a till? How to please a given corporate employer as the only real future in this country now seems to be wageless work for big businesses like Poundland? What about a better level of education? What about going to a university or somewhere that can lead to proper opportunities, not some 'customer service' NVQ that, ultimately, won't mean anything - especially if everyone else in my position is doing this?
It's all so depressingly predictable and so lacking. Even Mrs Adviser agrees that the provision is rubbish; weirdly the tone of her voice is somewhat resignatory. They just have nothing to offer; at best they can tell you about some websites or, if your ambitions are mundane enough, a suitable entry level course. Nothing to build a career or move forward.
But what annoys me the most is how you are told they can help. I didn't bother to argue over her telling me back in December that there are places she can refer me, as an ESA claimant (a major part of the reason for making the claim). It was made quite clear to me that, in lieu of their not being trained in medical matters, they could instead refer to specialists. This turns out to be a list of the local NHS services, which of course are lacking. There are no diagnostic services. She tells me explicitly they can't refer people. I'm then resigned to the realisation, once again, that this whole thing is a total farce and a waste of time. The really weird thing is that she agrees with me.
What else is there to say I haven't said a hundred times before? I actually made the point that her organisation must have known they would have to deal with ESA claimants. I'm told that yes that's true, but the whole thing wasn't thought through and is a giant exercise in trial and error. It seems that if you want nothing more than access to a computer to jobsearch, some basic printing, maybe some stamps, or a list of local courses (as opposed to more specialist or advanced education), or medical/health support, you'd better forget it.
Now I have to wade through a bunch of websites to find something that appeals to me (which may or may not be possible) just to please the Work Programme, meanwhile there is no discussion of my needs or my skills or abilities. Just posting people toward community courses or compelling them to 'jobsearch' is no use at all. What people need is more fundamental and requires a great deal of specialisation experience and proficiency; something the Work Programme isn't remotely capable of.
It's all about buzzwords and rote processes: 'jobsearch', getting people 'job ready', 'building confidence', and a whole raft of bland empty unspecialised procedures and schemes that achieve nothing more than a homogenisation of the same number of people forced to apply for the same few jobs. The blind leading the blind and the tail wagging the dog. Meanwhile nothing improves or changes.