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Voluntary?

I feel like I'm probably repeating myself. In fact I'm entirely sure I have anything to talk about, which is, sort of, the problem.

Once again the lack of support is just deafening. Blinding.

In fact this situation is normalised to such an extent that the people who have undertaken (largely for profit) the responsibility to provide support are so ill equipped and so bereft that instead of addressing why, the client is held responsible.

As I've said before: gaslighting. Likely not intentionally, does it matter?

In fact, intent is important because it tells us those committing that behaviour just don't know better. That's a problem.

If they don't know why things are as they are (hint: capitalism) how can they possibly help? That's why gaslighting exists: they know they can't help, they know they have precious little to offer. Consequently their only recourse is to impugn the client. Intransigence: you don't want to be helped, you are resistant, you are "not engaging". You, not them. Never them, no matter how charmingly put.

I could understand if I had refused to take up services (colour therapy for instance), or if my ambitions were hopelessly outlandish - I want to be a premier league footballer or an astronaut!

Last time we spoke, now months ago (I've had just two appointments this year), I told to the adviser I was interested in writing; that I also liked music (which can encompass many things, not just some X Factor fantasy bollocks). She already knew of my interest in social justice/politics and that being involved in a good cause with good people (admittedly hopelessly vague, but important) would be positive. All a waste of time. They have nothing to offer other than a room full of computers.

So far the only thing that they have had to offer was to use the local voluntary work database. But what good is unpaid work? There is such a thing as Permitted Work: Under DWP rules, one can work a certain amount and keep one's earnings while still claiming sickness benefits.

Fat chance. Once you sign that form you surely sabotage any claim for ESA. The DWP will have a record (literally) stating that you are working. How can that square with a claim otherwise? An appeal to people who look for any reason to deny that claim. Another example of the perverse counter-intuitive incentives that exist in this ridiculous system. Who would dare take that chance?

While voluntary work is great and wonderful, people shouldn't be compelled into anything they are not comfortable with - just because it's voluntary. Quite honestly I feel that voluntary work is used as a stick - do it or else. Maybe because it seems 'easier', to find voluntary work - and of course the unemployed (for whatever reason) should be doing something. So by refusing such a 'noble' way to spend your time, you are doubly feckless!

All part of the current neoliberal paradigm: regardless how you actually occupy your time, you are still idling if it's not earning a wage. That is to say, if it isn't producing profit (since that is how profit is created).

Where once voluntary work might have been a genuinely social positive, for those so inclined. It's now another tool to be used against us - and the third sector is far from unprofitable!

They don't care about what you might actually be doing, or about finding something genuinely positive. Just get your arse down to your local charity shop and sort someone's old clobber and castoffs. Then you'd be doing something useful and we can forget about you, ticking the 'support' box.

Is this really good enough? You aren't being paid for it. How then do you live? You are being compelled for the sake of 'idle hands' yet you are no better off in any practical way at least. Sure it may have a more ephemeral benefit, but then it may not. Also, it has to be said, within a capitalist economy, there is no ethical consumerism; working in a charity shop, for example, is going to enable that charity - as a business - to profit. Rightly or wrongly, and regardless of the ethics of the cause, that is what is happening.

That's how capitalism works. A charity shop to can't survive unless it makes a profit. So the only staff getting paid are the managers the rest are volunteers. A whole culture has been built around this - for better or worse - and the danger is that it blinds people to the reality. Why is this a problem: because it distracts from the real problem.... the prevailing economics.

Capitalism.

I've worked in a charity shop before, it wasn't a glamorous job. It shouldn't be romanticised. It was somewhat boring - isn't most retail? Is charity a justification? We shouldn't need charity - we live in a world of plenty.

The staff were good people, including the manager. But the experience was largely meaningless: shopping that around on my CV was worthless. Prospective employers never never seemed to value that kind of experience; not compared to 'genuine' experience held by rival candidates.

Do voluntary work because you care about the cause and want to help out, or for a genuine personal reason.

Don't do it because you fell pressured by systemic propaganda from agents of a system who should know better.

Don't do it because the alternative is to make you feel worthless or even more so. This is wrong.

The agency I'm a client of (a terrible word) should know better. They weren't forced into this role. They set themselves up, with public (EU - ho ho Brexit!) funding. They should have the resources, and - frankly - the talent. That the best they can do is guilt trip you into using a freely available voluntary work website is pretty pathetic I think.


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