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Showing posts from June, 2013

The Secret Language

One of the interesting things about neuro diversity is how it shapes your relationship to the world. This is not always a bad thing, though the problem with it isn’t how it can inspire the kind of creativity or genius that more intense ‘sufferers’ can experience. The issue is how the regular workaday world is completely at odds with you. That is my problem. It isn’t really even accurate to call it a medical problem, but the only way I can try and draw attention to my needs is through that process, hence going through the Work Capability nonsense.
I don’t deal with change particularly well. Perhaps in a weird way unemployment – though obviously limiting due to financial reasons – is a comfort to the neuro diverse. I had a friend who once said everyone should experience a period of unemployment. I think he was right; if nothing else you see how the tie around your neck is more shackle than style.
People look to religion to find their place in the world. I refute the existence of a hig…

Redline Britain

There are a lot more things I have to say than I ever blog about. Unfortunately I’m too lazy to be a citizen journalist and, if you gaze yonder eastwards, you’ll see a list of far better people than I to get facts from. Besides, this blog was mainly intended as a personal catharsis with observations on the world as it now turns. Sometimes though things have to be said.

On Question Time this past Thursday, professional fence sitter and coalition nobody, Simon Hughes MP, revealed that, during the Coalition negotiations, Osbourne wanted to penalise JSA claims by 10% in the second year. This, claimed Hughes, was his red line. I don’t know if this is true, though it’s hardly a leap of faith to presume the Tories would dream up something so punitive.
It was a revealing morsel: it tells us that everything we have endured so far, along with what is to come, is necessary and acceptable. All of it Simon thinks is necessary; the destruction of a society and the impoverishment of an economy u…


No mate, you’re just paid by Barclays. You don’t have a job. They just pay you to tell me that ripping people off while expecting me to honour my debts is reasonable. That’s not a job. That’s not contributing or bettering society or even this community. You’re no less a benefit recipient than I; the difference is you’ve got a name badge and a tie. I’ve got a Jobseeker’s Agreement.
That’s what I tell myself each time I pay my pittance to Barclays each month for making the mistake of getting into (a relatively small amount of) debt as a student. Interestingly at the time Barclays were part of the college infrastructure whose advice to students worried about how they’d finance themselves was to borrow.
We’re all dependent on money, and the money comes from on high. We’re like the Israelites weaned in the desert on heavenly mana, except our gods are the corporate elite and their politician acolytes. We need money to live – interestingly the words almost sound the same: mana/money. Weird.

Silent Scandal

So what is the reality of mental health on the Work Programme? It seems pretty poor. Is this a provider unique issue? I cannot know personally; I was assigned to Employment Plus by deign of the machinery of the DWP. I’m given to believe that process is based not on need or suitability (assuming any differences or areas of expertise among providers) but on who has the fewest customers at the time. Anecdotal evidence does seem to suggest that my experience is not unique. I can well believe it.
But this is not solely a problem of the adequacy of providers. While I am of course critical of the attitude undertaken by my (former) adviser, the problems run much deeper. He is only saying what he’s been drilled to say – in fact that ‘only following orders mentality’ is another and large symptom.
It goes beyond even the Work Programme itself. This attitude is systemic. It permeates the DWP from tip to toe. We all know how difficult it can be dealing with advisers, even Disability specialists.…

The Call Centre

A new horror has emerged from the Stygian depths we know as BBC Three. It is called 'The Call Centre', a show purporting to be fly on the wall inside the Welsh headquarters of Saving Britain Money. This epic hellhole is overseen by a man presumably brought back from some past medical dilemma by the blood of David Brent. The script of The Office flows in his DNA to the point one can legitimately question the authenticity of the whole project. In fact it is probably healthy to be that cynical because what lies within is beyond description.
That overseer is known simply and only as 'Nev', presumably shorthand for 'Never Again', in the way one speaks of concentration camps. Speaking of which this particular gulag is populated by a crew of sales hungry back combed spray tan enthusiasts whose life stories comprise the narrative of the programme. In the first episode, of the two broadcast thus far, we meet Hayley who's love life she mistakenly made available to &…

10 0 Clock Dead

"There's a show, keeps on annoying me Late at night, on a Tuesday-eee! 10 0 Clock Live perhaps you've heard About as entertaining as a turd Lauren Laverne, she ain't no wit David Mitchell painfully sarcastic Charlie Brooker and Jimmy Carr  Proselytising from afar"
(to be sung to the tune of the Littlest Hobo).
Why are you slagging this off? You might ask. Well, stop shouting at me and I'll tell you. 
It isn't that Charlie and David aren't funny. Indeed they are very clever, if rather tedious (same shit, different day). Jimmy Carr on the other hand is a pillock; he's another sneering aimless comedian that trades on malaise and indifference - never mind the hypocrisy of satirising tax avoidance while avoiding tax. The less said about Lauren 'am I a comedian yet?' Laverne the better; I've always found her deeply pretentious. She is sup up herself she could use her colon as a handbag.
No, the problem is that this show offers no solutions. I'd…

Health Advisers?

I thought I'd give Employment Plus a ring to see what training their staff are supposed to have (officially speaking) in terms of mental health. Their contact number is on their website - as is an advert for a Job Life Coach (their term for Work Programme advisers). There is no mention of mental health expertise or training so I decide to ring them to ask about that specifically. This is their response (once again subject to amusing pitch manipulation - bear in mind the volume isn't great):

Curious they mention services unknown to me. Tellingly these include a health adviser that comes to the centre one could speak to. I suppose their response would be that such people are only available in larger centres (if at all). If that's true then surely the adviser could at least have mentioned this to me, could have perhaps arranged for me to see them - or something. Nope, no mention at all; just told that, in liue of bringin g a support worker, I have no problems because I'm …

More Timeless Wisdom!

On the journey:
On training:
To be fair, I've edited these conversations down quite a bit, and of course the voices have been hilariously munchkinised for everyone's protection! However there isn't much that can really be argued to be out of context. I was asked about what my long term goal was and, unfortunately, didn't really argue my case very well in saying I was interested in writing. That was because of the nature of the situation and the fact that I don't really trust or like the adviser well enough to confide anything. 
The nub of the issue is that these people come to you with severe expectations: they have a clear view of how the process should work and how you should respond. If you struggle to meet those expectations, and I did because I simply cannot function in that way - I don't think like that, then you are going to come a cropper. it may seem reasonable to argue then that as a customer I'm being obstructive and not cooperating; certainl…

The Timeless Wisdom of Employment Plus

I thought it might be fun/stupid/irresponsible to upload choice cuts from my time with a guru so wise his wisdom appears to my mundane ears as ill considered bullshit. This was the last time (i sincerely hope) I saw this awful adviser who has, i have discovered, behaved with remarkable abandon regarding the data protection act. For added amusement I have increased the pitch of the voice. Might seem a bit bizarre but it wouldn't be fair to leave it so either of us could be identified (yes that sounds paranoid, but then I am). 
On CV's:
On chucking toys out the pram:

On mental health:

Speaks for itself I think. Also there is another adviser not three feet away in the tiny kitchenette at the back of the church hall that passes for their Work Programme nerve centre. He's dealing with someone else. How's that for discretion and privacy!

I welcome any comments on this, even though I sound like a massively smug bastard high on helium!

I'm actually genuinely interested …

The Kingdom of ATOS

Today I had my ATOS assessment. This is my story.
I arrived at the door and pressed the buzzer to gain ingress into the Kingdom of Atos. The stern reply asked me to identify myself only to be told my appointment was cancelled the day before. I am given permission to enter the strange and secret world within, hopefully to get an explanation at least.
Upstairs I find the receptionist has the wrong person's file. A cursory examination of the letter I'm visibly clutching would reveal the mistake. Instead the receptionist is in a bad mood; combative, moody and defensive. Apparently she spoke to me yesterday; I dare to correct her. She insists; again I retort; then an explanation: “I think you’ve got the wrong person.” Indeed.
Turns out she’s reading a file belonging to someone named similarly. Not quite sure why we have gotten off on this foot; she offers a rather pinch faced 'apology' of the kind that begins and ends, "I do apologise sir". In other words too fo…

CV Permission

As I sit here I’ve got 6 hours to go before I have my appointment with a long wait in a scary place. Hopefully not too long.
When I woke up this morning I dug out the recording I’d made of my last encounter with the bullying Work Programme adviser I saw in November. 31 minutes made for painful and confused listening. I’d forgotten I’d recorded this; my MP3 player has a record function I might try and use later though I don’t anticipate anything particularly revelatory coming from it. I had intended to go through this recording and, after some judicious editing, upload it. I may do that later, not because I want to show off but so I can be as objective about the situation as I can. One of the most awful aspects of the Work Programme is how it can seed terrible self doubt; it’s difficult enough for me at the best of times trying to be objective about situations.
I’m not entirely sure listening back has helped my state of mind. I don’t think added anxiety was the best thing I could do …

New Regime

Every day it seems Wonderland gets a little more mad hatter. I’m not sure how we’re meant to keep up with this decline into madness and bitterness but I find myself increasingly outside of myself which, given I have to appeal to ATOS for help on Tuesday, may well be a good thing. But in terms of being a functioning human being: not so much. I guess I should take comfort that my situation isn’t as dire as poor LindaWooten who, despite the fact she lay dying in hospital (if that’s not going to appeal to prospective employers I don’t know what will), was still found fit for work.
But that’s exactly what they want isn’t it. I sometimes think decisions such as that are deliberate. If the government can ‘demonstrate’ (spelt: demonise) the sickest and most dire of cases are fit enough then what hope for the rest of us. Worse: the rest of us will increasingly be seen as malingerers. That’s the purpose of DWP videos such as those discussed here; a Hit Parade of disabled people spouting clich…