Last week I met a lovely man once again. I didn’t recognise him, and I had to look twice. The last time that I saw him he was very thin, he was hungry and very depressed. Why? The Jobcentre kept sanctioning him even though he had fully complied with his job search requirements. It had got that bad that he was very close to loosing his home and he was thinking of taking his own life. The DWP had taken every bit of hope away from him. He had nothing left inside him. Both myself and his girlfriend had given him some advice and he survived.
He sat opposite me, and I told him that I didn’t recognise him, his whole persona had changed. There was a spark in his eyes and he had put a lot of weight on. I asked him what had happened, and he told me that he himself had found a job. Timpsons the shoe repairers had given him a chance. He says that he didn’t think that he would have got the job, but they are a family company and don’t just employ someone because they tick all the right boxes on their C.V. They go off personality as well and strongly believe that giving someone a chance is the best thing that they can do.
He started paid work. Not workfare he had done that before and it had made him Ill. Working for nothing on an empty stomach is nothing less than slavery. He says that he is treated like a part of the family now, and given so many opportunities to learn and grow more that he’s spoilt for choice. As a result he says he feels human again. I asked him what does that mean? And he explained.
“When I was signing on they made my life impossible. They put me on universal credit and my life wasn’t my own. I was on workfare full time and still had to look for work, I had to comply even though they kept sanctioning me. I nearly lost my sanity. Indeed I was taken into hospital once because I wanted to talk my own life. I couldn’t see the end of it. I didn’t deserve to be treated like that. I did everything that they said. But the DWP treated me like I was a disease they wanted to get rid of. I was hassled all the time and I didn’t have the strength to keep up. If this opportunity hadn’t have arose I wouldn’t be here now and that is a certainty. ”
He went on to say that life now was more positive. “If I hadn’t had received this opportunity I would be dead. Timpsons have literally saved me. They made sure that from day one they paid me properly and didn’t just pay me for a few days work for the week when I started because it was at the end of the month. They paid me for the full month. They didn’t take uniform allowances from my wages and they haven’t exploited me. I feel like I’m a part of the family. I will never work anywhere else. He went on to say that he has helped others who were in need whilst working. Customers sometimes come into the shop and talk about their problems. They don’t shoo them away, the company encourages them to listen and to help. I’ve now got my life back and it feels fantastic”
He added that his experience has traumatised him for life and he wasn’t sure that he would recover.
This man is a hero in my eyes. I will never forget meeting him again. And I cannot thank Timpsons shoe repairers for helping him like this. They give people a good, honest chance.
As for workfare, it’s wrong and if you are in the mindset of thinking that it’s right then I encourage you to read this story again. It nearly caused him to end his life. This gentleman is a true hero.
If anyone from Timpsons would like to get in touch with me to comment that would be fantastic.
Also there is a scheme in my area which is ran by the local volunteering organisation. It’s called keep volunteering voluntary. They are encouraging local traders and charities to stop using workfare. Many already have. We need to spread the word that workfare is wrong. If you are looking to employ someone then put them on a paid work trial. Don’t use their hard work for free and then complain that they have an attitude as a result. That attitude could be because they are hungry, amd remember the next work fare employee could take your job. I’ve heard the words “well they are the workfare” being used. This is wrong and I am and Boycott Workfare are trying to change this.
Please donate to help keep our campaign going. We work very hard at this and it has become more or less a full time job for me.