I’ve been quiet for a while so many apologies for being away. Sometimes it just gets too much and last week was one of those weeks. I had to have a bit of time out and as a result I feel much better. When you are heavily involved with this type of work it can and does get to you. The injustice of it all gets too much. It seems like your fighting a lone battle, when in reality you aren’t. But you are stuck in a corner for a while screaming to be heard.
I’m writing this on the day the some Jobcentre workers in Bolton are striking over their conditions whilst implementing universal credit. Whilst I fully sympathise and support them I can’t help to wonder why on earth aren’t they making a bigger noise about the way they are being forced to treat innocent people? They are also victims, indeed they are the bigger victims. Solidarity to those workers though. If I could be there I would be to show my support and to share the pain of the members of the public entering Jobcentres up and down the country. It’s a pity that my local Jobcentre didn’t see fit to strike… Maybe that’s a question that they would like to answer?
Whilst handing out leaflets a very disabled lady came out of the Jobcentre. She was very upset and was close to tears. I handed her a leaflet and asked her what was wrong. She said that she suffers from a congenital medical condition. It causes her joints to unlock constantly and as a result she struggles to walk and depends on crutches and her friend to take her out in her car. She was obviously in a lot of pain and the struggle in her eyes was very obvious. She told me that she is on DLA but the Jobcentre had called her in. She showed me the letter, it was a compliance letter. The anger in her voice then became apparent. They had told her that she must come off her DLA and claim JSA and look for work. This woman is incapable of holding down a job. Why? Because she can’t sit down, she can’t stand up she can’t lift, she’s in constant pain and she survives on a mixture of very strong painkillers. She also is a regular attendee of the local hospital often spending nights in there and has to have operations etc. I told her not to come off her DLA, she has been awarded that because she obviously needs it. If we weren’t there she could well have done as they said. And that’s a very scary thought..
A man then walked out of the Jobcentre, he looked harassed and said to me “you’ve got to do something about the staff in there”. I asked him what was wrong and he said her went to sign on as usual and had complied with everything on the job search list. The advisor kept trying to trip him up and said ” if you ever fail to comply I will sanction you” with that he gave a smile… You know that sort of smile that’s half way between a smile and a sneer? He said it happens to him everytime he goes in and it feels like they want to sanction him every week. We advised him that he can change advisors, he said he would do.. But it isn’t right that they can be allowed to behave like this. The advisors that do should be challenged.
We had the usual complaints of advisors being purposely rude to clients… There’s no need for it. They need to remember that if it wasn’t for them they wouldn’t have a job!!!
A member of the public was refused to be allowed to change his signing on time because he had a job interview…. Can’t win either way. If he doesn’t sign on his money gets stopped if he doesn’t go to the interview he gets sanctioned. It’s a loose loose situation.
The other week we had the army recruiting in the job centre. Now you might think that this is ok, that’s a matter of opinion. However the tactics that they were using were shocking.. A member of the public enlightened us to what they were doing.. The officers that’s they sent to the job centre were junior members of the army and not qualified to recruit members…. The tactics that they were using went like this…. You aren’t going to get a job so you’ve got to join the army…. Now this is where I disagree. Joining the army is a personal choice often a vocation. You should never be forced into it, and this should never be allowed. Trading on the vulnerable to enrole.. What next compulsory signing up? Makes you wonder doesn’t it.
A workfare provider happened to walk past our demo. She started to get very irate at the oldest member of our group, who works tirelessly to help others. She’s seen it all before but shame on this lady for her attitude. She was not willing to discuss any issues at all, she just kept repeating workfare is right, my company benefits from it. Of course they do… They profit by not having to pay a member of staff.. All I can say is that she lives in a totally different world than many people and didn’t have an ounce of compassion. Shame on her, maybe one day she will suffer like she makes those that slave for her do. Make no mistake it’s a modern form of slavery and needs to be stopped. Everyone deserves a decent days pay for a decent days work. Bring back properly paid work trials. They do exist but very rarely these days..also the number of people being employed after being on a workfare programme by the company they slave for is very very low.. We need to outlaw workfare. It does nothing to help, only to demoralise. It also is damaging the local economy. Less paid work, less people contributing to the local economy. It doesn’t make sense to anyone but a workfare provider.
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