Unemployed: Why not working is no fun…

3 Feb

If you say to someone that you’re unemployed, you will get one of two responses- 1) “aww bless you, it isn’t easy is it?” or 2) “look at you, you’re not looking hard enough, you’re playing the system!” I have been unemployed for a while (i won’t disclose here how long), which has been unpleasant, however, i am lucky that i have very understanding friends and family who understand that in this day and age, every job vacancy is like a fight to the death- it’s all or nothing guys! The problem i have is the back to work company called jobfit who, in my and many others opinion, are not fit to do the job. Indeed, this is my third back to work program, and each one has got worse.

There are several problems with me-

1) I graduated from university with a 2:2. Problem is most employers still think graduates want more money, which is untrue. I just want money which is my own and not have to rely on anyone else. I can’t wait for the day when i can walk into an entertainment store and just buy a dvd i fancy and not have to wait until christmas or my birthday to get it. I’ve even had a caseworker suggest that i drop my degree from my CV! Not only is it a bad idea but should an employer find out, i’d be sacked for lying! It also causes a problem for funding- i’d like to train as a teaching assistant but because that qualification would be lower than my BA, the only help i can get is the course being free. I’d have to pay for travel, books, equipment etc, and on JSA, it’s impossible sadly.
2) My age- right now, the government has a scheme for 16-24 year olds and one for the over 50’s. My age is outside both of these age groups, meaning i can’t be put on any scheme bar a work placement. This is frustrating because, having been on three work placements, i know that i’ll be dumped somewhere for a month and used as cheap labour. If i refuse, i lose my money. It’s very disheartening and makes those of us on these schemes lose faith in the system.
3) Transport- now, transport has massively improved in the last 10 years, however, where i live, there is no Sunday or bank holiday service. To find an employer who understands that, plus i have to catch a certain bus home or i’m stuck, is difficult. I totally agree that employees have to work together with the company they work in, but employers need to understand their employees needs. My advisors don’t see this as a problem unfortunately and think i should travel with a total stranger in a car i don’t know. Not a chance in hell i say! Safety first and job second. Employers, and back to work programmes, also need to understand that not everywhere has city standard transport and not everyone drives.
4) Experience- i’m lucky that, thanks to my local CVS, i’m gaining experience in a retail environment, however, most companies now expect every applicant to have years of experience. In an interview, if they have two people, they will always choose experience over talent. It’s cheaper and saves time. In some cases it’s who you know too. It’s a sad fact but in this day and age, a company can’t afford to waste cash or time on newbies. The only industry that seems to accept those without experience these days are call centres, and that line of work isn’t for everybody. I actually got told once i was wasting my time volunteering! The fact that i’d had more responses last year and i’d won an award for my volunteering meant nothing to them. Thankfully i had people who care and told me that Jobfit should stuff themselves!
5) Illness and injury- currently, i am being tested for ankylosing spondylitis, which is a severe back condition. I’ll spare you the details here but those who have it, have it for life. The problem is that my caseworkers don’t seem to believe me! One even had the cheek to ask if i had a medical record of it! It’s something which is very much real but i can’t physically show. I understand people try it on, but i’m not after a sick paper- i’ve suffered nearly 13 years and just want to know what’s wrong with my back. I just want to make sure i don’t make matters worse by doing something that could aggrivate what i’ve got. I’ve even been reduced to tears because they don’t believe me. It’s not fair- i want to work like a normal person and i can’t help i may have something which could prevent that 😦

So, not an easy task then. No one wants to have me in the office. They all question why i’m still there any why employers don’t get back to me. I tell them that’s something only the employer can answer. I don’t want to be the elephant in the room but due to circumstances i am. It’s unfair, disheartening and in some cases, i’ve just collapsed into tears wondering why me. At times, i feel like the only person i  the world who feels like this. I know that there are others like me, but unemployment can be very lonely. Infact, if my sister wasn’t around, i wouldn’t go out anywhere or have company. Although i have friends on facebook, i never meet with any of them. They’ve all moved on without me. I hate being left behind but until i’m given a chance, i ain’t going nowhere.

Things need to change- not just for me but for everyone who’s unemployed right now. I agree with Ian Duncan Smith- being employed should not be worth less than being unemployed. The problem is the system and how broke it is. I read last week about a couple with a baby who get over £17,500 in benefits. One part of me is mad as hell- “get a job” i scream. “Be proud of working and stop taking money from hard working people!” Make your daughter proud by working and you’ll be proud when you buy something with money you earned by working hard. People like this give unemployed people a bad name and it’s unacceptable and completely unfair. The other half doesn’t blame them but the system itself. “Why work when we get so much in benefits?” they ask. The other problem is that they’d need a job where they’d earn enough AFTER tax so they wouldn’t lose any money. Who honestly would take a job where the pay would leave them worse off? If they can’t offord the bills, they could lose their house and be on the street in no time. I blame the system for handing out so much money- do they really need a house with a monthly rent of £625, which they only pay £20 towards it? I feel angry that they can get away with so much and angry that the system has allowed them to live a life of luxury. These people create a false image for unemployed people. “They’re rich” people cry. Really? For example, £280 a month for a single person aged over 25 may seem a great amount, until you count that they need to live, pay for printing evidence to suppot their joblog, food, bills etc. Only then do people realise just how hard it is.

Things are changing to make sure work pays, but some policies need to go further. Below are some points which really stand out to me and some i’d like to see introduced:

*Free bus pass- great idea in theory, untill you realise that they’re only available to those unemployed for three months and ends when he person reaches the twelth month. Why not extend this sceme? Make it so an unemployed person is entitled to this after one month and finish it when they receive their first pay packet. This way travel will not be a problem and it’s one less expense to worry about.
*Handout changes- this may be controversial but i think vouchers should be used in some cases. For example, they would be no use for those living at home, however, for those who have children they could help. While i agree money should still be given, vouchers for clothing, food etc, should also be given as part payment. That way, claiments could be kept an eye on and see if they are actually spending the money on the things they are supposed to be used on. Maybe a photographic id card accepted in certain shops? I hate it when i see families on the dole wearing brand names (i am well aware that not all families are like this but most of us know one like that). I understand how controversial this is, but something like this could help families manage their money better and if the money wasn’t being spent correctly, then they could be investigated and if children wern’t being looked after properly, then action could be taken quicker. This isn’t an easy option and would be seen unfair to some.
*Stop wasting money- again this may be controversial but i’m in favour of scrapping back to work programmes. They are outdated and no longer serve any purpose. I am sadly on my third program and each one is getting worse. No one knows what they are doing and most caseworkers i have seen are unsympathetic and just want to hit targets. They waste far too much money- how can someone get paid for “supervising” a jobsearch session? When i attend sessions like this, the person in charge leaves the room and does office work. What a great way to spend government money! I do jobsearch in my local library and do it much better as i hate being constantly watched. I feel they can’t trust me! If these programmes were abolished, we’d then know the true number of unemployment in the UK. Sure the figure would be awful at first, but when someone claiming JSA is placed on a program like this, they are classed as being in training, which masks the real number of unemployed people. I’d rather know the truth rather than current figures which are false. Talking of training…
*Training and universal files- when you first become unemployed, i believe you should be made to take a basic english and maths test. I have taken 5 of each so far, and the last one wasn’t even basic! Once should be enough! If there are any problems then they can be taken further, but if the persons results are fine, then that should be that. A universal file would solve this problem- in it, there would be details of what courses the person has taken, what tests they have done etc. This would save time and money for everyone. A simple idea but an effective one.
*Experience and job search- experience is important, as is looking for a job. I will tell you straight- NO ONE can look for a job 9-5. It drives you crazy and makes you feel like crap. I did it in the beginning and i ended up depressed and felt like i was a failure. So, a new contract was made and now i jobsearch 3 times a week. It’s no fun but it doesn’t drive me, or my poor family, barmy. I believe that this should be standard for all claiments. As for the other two days in the week, make them volunteer. This allows people to gain experience, something which is needed this day and age. Without it, i wouldn’t have any experience, confidence or any responses from any jobs i apply for. If the person doesn’t turn up, they need to explain why. If it’s not good enough, their money is stopped. No ifs or buts. Also goes for jobsearch- no evidence, no payment.
*Work placements- after 6 months, a claiment should be made to go on a work placement. If they don’t go, and have no reason not to do so, then ALL their benefits stop there and then, and only restart as soon as they attend. However, companies need to be vetted- no more taking on without any job opportunities being available. A company would have to prove they have opportinities there- if they couldn’t, they don’t take part in the scheme. It is plain WRONG for ANY company to use and abuse these scemes for free labour because they can’t or won’t take anyone else on. If a claiment is taken on, then they should A) work the same hours as other members of staff (when i did my last work placement, the floor staff worked 16 hours a week whereas i had to work 30), B) clothes and extra money for food and travel (or a free bus pass) and C) earn minimum wage- how fair is it for two people doing the same job to be earning different amounts? How many of you would work 30 hours a week for just over £1 per hour for under 25’s and just over £2 per hour for over 25’s? Not many of you. Those on work experience are doing EXACTLY the same as those employed by the company. This would also encourage those who abuse the system to seriously think about looking for a job. Who wants to lose that amount of money?
*Aftercare- when a claiment finds a job, they should still receive payments until their first pay packet is in their bank account. No one should be made to pay anything back as it leaves them short for the next month. They should also receive some clothing- three tops, two trousers and a pair of shoes would be a great start and help the person worry less about expenses. The first month of any job is a mix of anxiety, stress and excitment and anything to make life easier should be embraced.

So, that’s my view. You don’t have to agree but as someone who is stuck in the system going nowhere, i can see the system needs reforming and fast. There is a crisis waiting to happen if nothing is done soon, and if that crisis happens, many people will suffer. I hope and pray that changes are made in time, and if not, i hope i’m not unemployed when it happens.

EDIT 30/05: Since this was published, i have been diagnosed with degenerative disc disease, however, they have said i have the gene for ankylosing spondylitis which is why they were treating me for that. I am doing hydrotherapy which is okay but not working miracles. They are now debating whether i am currently fit for work which i’m gutted about. My volunteering placement have been fantastic and really supportive about everything and i’d be gutted if i had to stop. I’ll keep you updated!

Snow joke

18 Jan

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   The snow has finally hit South Wales! It’s a blizzard out there, but i’m tucked up indoors in my starry onesie with the fire on. I do love this weather, but something i read on facebook made me think this morning that it’s not as bad as it could be.
   A friend of mine has two children, and as any parent knows, kids can eat food up like bottomless pits. On her status, she said she’d called to Tescos on her way home to pick up some basic food items. Instead of seeing rows of food, the shelves were bear. She left with only a few items and nothing she really wanted to pick up, but had to because the kids need feeding. Her nearest shop was the same aswell. The problem is, as soon as people hear the word snow, something inside of people triggers off a sense of panic. The first thought is “i must prepare for the worst!” like they’re off on a three month artic expedition and run to the nearest grocery shop, vacuum the shelves clean and then hoard an unessesary amount of food which usually goes to waste instead of sharing and allowing others who need it to have some. The fear of being snowed in (which has only happened once in the last 10 years) becomes overwhelming and rational thinking flies out the window. You’d swear the end of the world is coming! Why people feel the need to lose control is beyond me. There’s nothing wrong with picking up a little extra, but not enough to feed an army of people. Remember, next time it could be you who is needing some food and there’s nothing left but dust!
   How we deal with snow is slightly baffling. I understand why some places are closed and why some transport isn’t running, but to come to a complete standstill? Just no. My sister went to Norway once and when she arrived there, there was severe snow. It came to just over halfway up her leg. Was everything closed? No. People just carried on as normal. Nothing closed and everything running as normal. I wonder how they react when they seem how a small amount of snow (because, let’s face it, compared to them, ours looks like frost in a freezer) has let Britain slow down, almost grind to a halt in some parts? I’m not saying it’s not bad, it’s just not as bad as it can be, or has been- remember 2010/2011?
   Also, not everyone has the luxury of pulling a snow day. I was planning to jobsearch today but due to my local library shutting, i can’t (my phone can’t navigate the websites properly so applying this way is undoable unfortunately). While i know the jobcentre and jobfit will thankfully accept this as a valid reason, i know how lucky i am i can spend the day at home. My thoughts go out to all the nurses, doctors, home health visitors, fire fighters, ambulance workers and anyone else who are dedicated enough amd have struggled to get to work today. To these people i say “well done for keeping everything moving!” and i hope you make it home okay later when your shifts have finished, and to the rest of us who are at home, count your lucky stars that you were able to spend the day wrapped up safe inside. If you do have a neighbour who is elderly or just conserned about, give a quick bell, or if you’re able to, pop in and say hello. It may not mean much but to the person or people you’re seeing, it shows you care about them.

   I think i’ll end it there. Just remember next time some snow comes, think about others as well as yourself. Be thankful to all the dedicated staff who work no matter what the weather, and if you’re lucky to gain an extra day off, enjoy it while you can. You’ll be glad you did when you’re stuck at work next week when it all melts again!

Until next time,

bouncer0304 🙂

Welcome to this insane mind of mine :-)

17 Jan

   I’ve decided to start again blog wise. I do have one on myspace but i realised that it was just becoming one big long rant about my life so i decided i needed to start again and take it seriously. So here i am. Personally i think it may be a dangerous thing, but they say in life you should be willing to take risks. Just don’t say i didn’t warn you!

   So, let me introduce myself. Hello i am me! I am the same bouncer0304 as on the ONM forums and i’ve been lurking around there for nearly three years (i think!). I am in my mid 20’s, Welsh through and through, the only person to have curly hair in my family and i love video games. To be more precise, i love Nintendo.
   Before you run to the hills screaming “FANGIRL ALERT!!!!! (for some reason i am considered male on the ONM forum- unless something has changed overnight i am still a she),” i’m not a blinkered fan. I see Nintendo has many faults and will be willing to say what they are too. Just to prove i’m not totally biased against anyone else, i also own a PSP 3000. While it isn’t played as much as my 3ds, i still enjoy the games i have for it. I won’t go too indepth now as i’ll discuss it in a seperate blog. All you need to know for now is that i owe the start of my gaming love to SMB3 and Sonic the hedgehog 1 and 2. I am also proud to be a female gamer.

   So, what’s the purpose of this blog? Well, i’d like to share my thoughts on certain news stories and other things that interest me, plus i’ll do some reviews. If you’re looking for me to review the latest films, games etc, then you’ll be disappointed. I’m not working at the moment so i can’t afford to be spending £40 on a game when i really need some mundane things to keep me from smelling like a corpse. I also own mostly Nintendo games, so if the Sony and Microsoft crowd could move along, that would be just dandy (that isn’t to say i won’t be looking at those companies, they just won’t be my main focus). What i will do is review what i have got, or in some cases, borrow from other people or the library. It sucks but i’ll do the best i can. Also, don’t expect items everyday on here- i’ll do blogs when i can but, y’know, job hunting comes first!

   Don’t ask for my twitter feed or facebook as they are both private. I’ve been hacked before and it isn’t nice. Nothing really bad hapened but i learnt the hard way to seperate my public profile from my private one. You also won’t see any pictures or videos of my face or anyone i know on here either- i want to keep stuff like that private. I hope you understand and respect that!

   That’s about it really. As i go along, i’ll let you know a little more about me, what i like, what grates on me, and just other odd things about me. Also i appologise for any incorrect spelling in these blogs- i may not be miss spelling bee 2013, as long as i get across what i want to get across it’ll all be fine. Right now i’m in my kitchen looking out the window and see snow. I LOVE SNOW 😀 Unfortunately last night it rained so it isn’t sticking yet, but the forecast says we’ll get a few inches over the next few days. Fine by me, as long as i can build a really crappy snowman out of it!

  Well you’ve reached the end. Well done for sticking out that long! Thanks for reading my gibberish- i don’t feel as lonely as i did at the top. But before i go, i have to say thank you to Nintendo for my #gift3ds prize of Paper Mario Sticker star! Really enjoying it, however, have a walkthrough ready as you will get stuck. Don’t say i didn’t warn you!

Until next time,

bouncer0304 🙂