Sunday, 8 July 2012

I am talking today because i want people to know what these
organisations are like. I am nervous because i am slightly afraid of
any sanctions,  There is a large climate of fear when talking about
a4e,  Many people in my situation are scared of speaking out.

After experiencing a4e twice before, for 30 hours a week, reading old
newspapers using computers that fred flintstone things are ancient,
being talked down too, demeaned. Told its YOUR fault you havent got a
job,  the constant picking things apart over and over it causes you to
feel less confident, even though a4e is supposed to boost confidence.

I first arrived at a4e in 2008,  I had 7 placement officers
in 7 weeks, repeating the same to them.   There  i met one of the
nicest members of staff CH  she knew what it was
like to be unemployed.  during the first few weeks we had a new tutor
she effectively bullied 3 people, they went to the local job centre to
do a job search and one of them spoke to their advisor but she got a
call from teh advisor who spoke to her, and she really ripped into
them. these were lads that were not happy and they actually told her
but she didnt back down they were getting ready for violence. which
would have affected everyone else. So i went to CH and told her
what was happening.. at that time we had.only have 5 computers in the
building and many people each doing the job search  it was hard to do
it.  This same tutor said that she had noticed an odour in the room a
room full of 20-30 people and then proceded to lecture us about
washing clothes, how everything should be boil washed.

The second time i was sent there in 2010.  it was pretty much the
same, but this time they had 5 more computers but even more people..
CH was there, as well as another good staff member E
. They helped a lot,  This is when I went for an induction,
this tutor was very politically outspoken, blamed the conservative
government for everything that went on.  I felt uncomfortable about
his political views, which was not necessarily mine.  But i bit my
tongue because i wanted to  get a job, and thought even though a4e
last time had failed me, i would try again after this week of
induction were you got free orange juice and toast.. (the toast was
later stopped because it wasnt healthy according to a manager).  I
then met C, he was the placement officer he said he has a contact
at the local hilton hotel,  and he could get me a placement there,  ok
so i say yes please.. he tried to get in touch with this person but
kept missing them, I started asking him whenever i saw him is there
any word on it. and he said no not yet cant get her. then after a week
he gave up.   I was sent for another placement just had the interview
but this man wanted someone with a lot more technical knowledge of
website design and updating so i didnt get that.

During this time i was applying for a job a day sometimes 2 or 3,
doing spec letters, emails, filling in application forms, I applied
for many thinking that i may find a one eventually. When E saw i
knew computers she said why not think about getting a PTTLS course,
you can learn to teach and you can help out here. So she spoke to some
other people in the place and they said i may have gotten funding, but
they would have to wait for the head office to approve.  So while i
was waiting could I the client teach the other clients how to use the
computers as their computer tutor the same guy who did the induction
didn't.  I didnt mind helping when i had free moments, i enjoyed it
and thought it will help.    So i helped.. but it got weird when the
staff started to ask me to help them as i was the expert.  There was
only 1 phone for use by clients, in a place that had maybe 100 people
in.. this was mid summer so very hot  not much ventilation, to combat
that they had 2 electric fans.  They had a security guard there who
would stalk the building looking for trouble.

The newspapers were frequently late arriving, They also cited security
for them not to have a copy of your cv you had to send it to yourself
and download it each time you wanted one printing off, then deleting
it.  There was a lack of envelopes, so even if you could fill in an
application form it was a race to find the stationary.  Once you had a
CV and letter done, you had to take it to the staff member for them to
sign it to show that there was  a cv and letter in. Then it would be
put into the internal post.   Now, I have my health and safety level 1
from another provider,  and thought since they offer health and safety
level 2, i would take it keep me busy and maybe i could get a
qualification out of it,  I was told by JP that He didnt
want me to take that course because he wanted to teach it to people he
thought could use it to get a job, He wouldnt put me for it because
there was no point.

Later on i got told about a job interview, halfway in the middle of
nowhere and from where i live it was hard to get too. Now previously
someone had been sanctioned for refusing an interview.  So with this
in mind i went for it. The interview was jsut for me to go there and
fill in an application form..  The manager i saw wanted to call me a
taxi because i was looking in distress.  So i went back to a4e and
told them.. They then suggested when i spoke to the manager i could
have said no and not gone.. Which was not talked about add to that the
fear of sanction.  Just before this interview, C the now Not
placement officer as he was moved sideways took me aside and told me
there has been reports that i smell, I had a shower morning.  So he
came and  handed me a spray can of deoderant  and effectively told me
i smelled. This was not a good thing to be told before an interview
which he knew about.  He effectively destroyed my confidence.  when i
can back the admin and security officer wanted to call for a taxi for
me as they saw i was literally crying in pain.

That was my second visit of A4e.  Now this third time i got all the
paperwork saying i was going to Ingues Deloitte, the job centres
papers. so i was happy thinking new place new start then i get a call
from a4e saying i was going there.  Which destroyed any confidence i
had regained.  I go there on the 23rd of august with the letter that
was sent out confirming my appointment,  and i was double booked, so
they couldnt do anything.  So i signed the papers of which i asked for
a copy, adn was told to come back on the 7th of september which i did.
 I was asked did i have a cv, i said yes, and she went through it
saying well why do you think you havent got a job.. i replied well i
see companies wanting to hire graduates, and or people 16-17  to pay
them less. She said it wasnt like that.

She said later that something I must be doing is stopping me from
getting a job, it was a problem with the application forms, or the
look of my cv, how i am not using code words because employers use a
boolian search for terms.  I said there arent many jobs out there, but
she denied that. And she suggested that one of the reasons i havent
got a job is because i have a lot of temporary jobs that the cv is too
light of information in part but too much information as well.  Then
she asked was there any medical reason, i told her as i was asked to
do about my osteo arthitis of both ankles which i take cocodamol 8 mg
tablets.  she dismissed that because there was no evidence of it from
the job centre, so i could work at any job then.    which i did, then
she asked me did i have a faith.  I said no, but then i asked why did
she need to know that. she said it was for statistical purposes and
that i would prefer not to say.  It seemed odd to me that she needed
to know this. If it was part of the ethnic monitoring system form then
ok, but this was just on the computer. then she asked me to fill in a
self assessment form. Then she vanished for about 10 - 15 mins

I mentioned that i would work part time, full time,  because i didnt
have any bills,  i am more flexible like that.  But i had 3 strings,
one get a job, pay for a PTTLs course, then maybe get a small 2nd hand
bookshop with internet cafe but funding was difficult. she then
suggested i get in touch with some charities about a social
partnership with the charities.  This was done on a 1 2 1 basis but in
an open office so anyone could hear what was being said and i was
sitting in front of the photo copier.  She then arranged for me to go
to an application form session.  As that must be a reason why i am not
getting jobs.

I left feeling as if it was all my fault, and felt low.  In this
current economic climate fighting dozens of other people for a job who
are more qualified, more experienced, Its hard for a unemployed person
to be even considered for a job.  There have been reports that
graduates are doing the admin jobs that i go for and i cant compete on
an educational basis. My home  is a town lacking in jobs, the major
employers have moved away or shut down. Add to that transportation is
a large problem . It makes getting a job harder than
normal.  I don't hold out much hope for this new scheme, which all the
staff at a4e state is completely different except its pretty much the
same.  And since its a mandatory scheme that lasts 2 years. they can
send me on any scheme at any time. They could send me every day, or
once a week, or once a month, and if you cant do what they say they
may sanction you. I know one of the staff members there is very
sanction happy.

I am not scared of them, because i feel people need to know whats
going on.  I am a little nervous as i said incase i have my money
stopped this is the reason why so many people dont talk about what
happens the fear of getting benefits stopped.

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