Jobcentre adviser: “The reforms have been designed to hide the numbers of unemployed.”

Originally posted on REALFARE:

We interviewed a Jobcentre adviser to ask about their experiences of welfare reforms since the coalition came to power. Having seen the changes and effects of unprecedented reforms, we wanted to know how their job experiences and demands had changed. Following on from our other interview last week, we bring you a second interview with a Jobcentre Adviser.

In the first part of this interview we talk about changes to welfare since the coalition and how the number of unemployed is remaining hidden under reforms.

Image: The guardian

Image: The guardian

How long have you worked in the job centre?

“10 years+ and in numerous positions.”

What are your thoughts and experiences of welfare reforms and rules since the coalition came to power? How have they changed? What are they aimed towards? What have been the effects on the people you serve? 

“It is clear that the Coalition/Tories have created a…

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AWOL

So, been awol for a while, not gonna lie I have been extremely un-motivated after ending up back at my start/highest weight again.
I haven’t been eating well, I haven’t been exercising at all… I entered a “screw it all” kind of phase.

Triage (work program) are driving me nuts with their constant changing of appointments – sending me letters for appointments the day before the letter arrives and calling me up telling me I have to come to this or that…sending me 2 sets of appointments for the same thing.  Its just a pain in the ass. They seem to want to make it as difficult as possible to turn up to the correct appointments, maybe I am just being paranoid but thats how it seems from my position.

Currently they have me on a “training program” consisting of 4 sessions, one a week for 4 weeks.  The first had 3 people turn up, me and 2 gentlemen of the older generation – the session consisted of us sitting there being talked to about the changes to the benefit system – universal credit etc.  Now considering this was 2 days before the Scottish indyref – it seemed a bit daft to have this particular talk, as if the vote had been yes then none of what they were talking about would have applied. The 2nd session was very short… not entirely sure of its purpose but we had to describe a picture of a clown – there were 5 of us this time, same as 1st and another gentleman plus a girl in her 20’s. All sitting there stunned into silence at being asked to describe a picture of a clown.  The 3rd session was supposed to have been yesterday….turned up as usual 10 mins early only to be told to “jump on a computer” as there is no training session today – the projector is broken. Awesome, didn’t feel like describing clowns today anyways.

As for the Indyref…. urgh.
I voted yes.
I stayed up all night to watch the votes come in.
I was gutted at the result.
Now we will suffer for having the balls to even have a referendum in the first place.

As a plus to this disappointing result – the Scottish population, especially the Scottish youth… are more politically engaged than possibly ever before.  Thousands of people decided to join up to the various YES parties.  In particular, the SNP who has trebled its membership since the indyref and the Scottish Green party – who have seen an increase of around 429%! Their membership has increased from 1178 at end of 2013 to 6,237 and still counting now…. according to their facebook page, 4,500 of those new members are just since the indyref.

I am proud to be able to count myself in that number.  I signed myself up to the Scottish Green Party on Friday 19th of September 2014. The day the result came in.  I just had to do something positive with that day, and the green party policies are the ones that I find myself most comfortable with.

Still waiting on my membership info, but happy to wait.  Its totally understandable that they have been seriously swamped by the sheer number who have shown an interest and signed up!
Positivity out of disappointment!!!

Also, having a clothing crisis… trousers, holes in crotch area.  EVERY DAMN TIME.
Fat thighs ya see.

Decided to put my fitbit back on, its been 3 weeks or so since I have even worn it because it ran out of charge and I had hidden the charge wire from myself (“tidied” away out of reach of kittens) so I had no way to charge it.  Found the charge wire, got that sucker charged up and was all set to go… then this happens yesterday.
WP_20141001_031

Sometime between me getting dressed to go to Triage (stress in itself as I had to decide between trousers with hole in crotch or dress/leggings combo with hole in boob area) and getting changed back into comfy stuff upon arrival home, the holder of my fitbit broke.

Now, its not an end of the world break.  the holder still holds etc… but this is the backside of the clip, and those metal prongs keep snagging on my clothes! Already have a clothing crisis (nothing fits) so really can’t be tearing holes in the few pieces I have. :(

Not sure what to do about this right now, I can’t afford to replace it, my bank balance is looking very sad right now as my eldest daughter just had a school trip which cost me way more than I thought it was going to (her dad was supposed to pay half, and didn’t… plus equipment/clothing/trainers)

So, I think what I am going to have to do is either tape over those metal bits with electrical tape, wear the fitbit without the holder and risk losing it (eeeek!) or possibly crochet myself some sort of alternative holder for it….not sure which yet.

On a more positive note – kittens are getting on well :D
They had some tummy troubles, especially Lacy.  Never really discovered a cause, but she had several vet trips (over £80 there) and several antibiotic jabs, as well as worming paste.  Both have now had their vaccinations and will be getting sterilised in the next few weeks (its a condition of adopting from cats protection league)

I really want to get them one of those tall cat tree climbing things, they cost around £60 new but I have been trying to keep my eye on facebay – my ex got one for £15… he always gets the deals!! Urgh. lol.

They would love it, I think they are getting a bit bored, they can’t go outside until after they have been sterilised, and that is looking to be at the end of this month… then we have fireworks time, and I am reluctant to let them out for their first outside experience around that time of year to be honest….

WP_20140929_001

Ella & Lacy 14 weeks old (taken 29/9/14)

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Lacy & Ella – 14 weeks (taken 1/10/14) they have taken possession of this crochet blanket now.. :D

Back to highest weight.

As the title says..I am back up to my highest weight of 109kg.
Really annoyed with myself that I can’t get this under control and haven’t been super inspired to post about me doing crap with it. lol.

The benefits system/triage work program are really getting me down.
Its the constant fear of getting sanctioned if someone has the opinion that you are not trying enough.
Its the getting messed about by triage with appointments – they gave me a set of appointments, the first of which was Thursday (4th) just past. I attended.  They gave me another whole set of appointments despite several still being on the 1st printout.  I came home from that.  On this new sheet – the first next appointment was for the 12th of September.  I came home, letter through my door from triage (dated 3rd) saying I have an appointment on the 8th.  I had no clue if this was still “active” as the new list I had received at my appointment on the 4th didn’t mention it.  So I had to go down there yesterday to try get some sense made of it.  THEY HAD NO CLUE.  So now basically they have told me to attend on the 8th and they will sort it out then. Urghhhhhhh!

One happy thing since I last posted though…

Lacy&Ella
Two little cuties!
They are 11 weeks old tomorrow, I adopted them from the cats protection league on Tuesday, the last 2 from their litter. The kids have named them Lacy and Ella. :)

They have been worrying me a little, both have had upset tummies since we got them.  First Lacy, she was sick a couple times on the 1st day.  But Wed, Thurs and Fri they have both been sick and had runny bums.  I think it might be due to being adopted and possibly the change in food or eating too fast (I don’t know brand what they got at CPL) Right now as I type this, they haven’t been sick for around 14hrs but I am keeping close eye on them. They are so cute :D

Kids are back to school :)

10603376_10153090430081091_4413331696396369438_nPut the flags out! LOL

They were looking forward to going back to school anyways, I think they get bored near the end of the holidays.

Now they are back I am hoping I can get back into some kind of proper healthy routine, as I have really slipped over the holidays… haven’t even worn my fitbit some days let alone weighed myself or been careful with my food.

Going to give the 5:2 eating program a decent go, I tried it out before the holidays and it wasn’t too bad… and apparently it gets easier after a few weeks of sticking to it.  :)

Triage are still being a pain in my butt, they messed up a few appointment times – sent out 1 for the day before I received the letter. lol.  I know I like sci-fi, but that doesn’t mean I can time travel. I spoke to them on the Monday (last week, the letter arrived on saturday 9th, appointment was for 8th) and they already knew about the issue – some letter blip, and they say everything is ok.  I also noted it on my job log and mentioned it to the job centre lady who saw me when I went to sign on last week.

DD1 goes away on a school trip in a few weeks time, need to get a lot of the equipment she needs for it, not quite sure how I am going to afford it yet – ex was supposed to pay half of the trip cost but didn’t end up paying anything towards it at all, so I had to find the extra money for that – both kids birthdays were in the holidays and then of course had to get new coats and school uniforms etc for going back to school.  It should be fine, if I budget very carefully for the food spending, but still its frustrating when I was supposed to get help from their dad.

Week after she gets back we should (fingers crossed) be getting a kitten!
A friend of my mums has a litter of kittens to find homes for – there were 4 in total I think.  There were 2 left when my mum told me about them, she is having the female kitten and we are having the last one, a little boy kitty – I haven’t seen him yet, and he is only about 3 weeks old right now but apparently he is mostly black with some white.  We are thinking of calling him Domino (I was trying for Sherlock, but kids were not fans) Something to look forward to. (yes I know getting a kitten is going to cost money, but I feel its good for the girls to have a pet, as I did when I was young.  As long as I am careful with the budget for groceries we should be fine…not rich of couse, but we will manage.  I don’t smoke, drink or go out socialising so in a way the internet, crochet and this kitten will be my “vices” – lol)

 

Scotland indyref…

Sooo, its getting closer to the big day where Scotland gets its say on independence.

I live in Scotland, and have done for 27 years now (since I was 7 years old) so I will get a vote in this historic decision.

Its an exciting time, but also a huge responsibility.  I want to get it right!

I have been watching a lot of youtube videos and reading some info to try and get as much information as possible to make the best decision I can.

I have never really been into politics or economics in the past but I really want to do my best and get as much information as I possibly can so that I can make the right decision!

so, if anyone reading this has a good source of information regarding this, I would be very grateful if you could share with me in my comments!
Thanks all :D

Oh dear! Fitbit trainer, take 2, week 8.

take2wk8

 

Week 8 is a fail!
Finding it really tough to get out for decent walks of any kind with the kids being off school.
I am even doing all my shopping for the week on 1 day each week because they moan and complain so much about having to go to town!
I might have to just go jog around the garden or up and down the stairs at this rate!

However, when I stepped on my scales I got a nice surprise -

27/07/14 – 106.9kg (-1.1kg this week)
Not really sure how… as I have not made great food choices in the last couple of weeks either…but I am not going to complain about it, I will take any loss I can get!

Fitbit trainer, take 2, weeks 6&7

 

take2wk6

So, its been 2 weeks since I posted my fitbit stats, I haven’t been doing great with it to be honest.
Its so hard to get out for a decent walk when my kids complain about even going to the grocery store (a 7 min walk!!)
Week 6 was on target…just.
I have been pretty stressed out with Triage (the work program)
For some reason, as soon as the school holidays hit, they are on my back more times per week than during term time.  Seems like its done on purpose to me!!!
Week 6 (Sun 6th to Sat 12th) they phoned me and expected me to go down that day to fill in a paper application form and personality quiz thing for a temporary 16wk position (to cover sickness) – then if I passed the personality section they expected me to go down the next morning to fill in the SAME INFORMATION onto the online application.  Double the work!!
I went down to do the paper form, but in order to do so I had to get my ex to watch the kids (they won’t let me take them with me because of the “type of customer” they deal with) He wasn’t happy about it, he had other plans. But he did it.
When she phoned to tell me I had passed the personality quiz and could I come to do the computer version (the next day) I told her – Nope, not possible.  There is no one available to take my kids today (my parents, brother and my ex all work, I have no real friends just “people I know”) I said I could go down, collect the form and transfer the information at home using my own computer, but that didn’t seem to be acceptable.  She said that she would enter my information for me since it was just copying what I had already written on the paper form.  I said that would be great and thanked her.  She said I should hear from them “early next week” about an interview (which would have meant Mon 14th – Wed 16th ish)  Its now Sun 20th – Not heard back about it at all.  Yet more triage fun in week 7….

take2wk7

 

Week 7, As you can see in the charts above, week 7 was a fail!
I didn’t even do any of my fasts this week – didn’t even try.
I was expecting to hear about an interview – and I knew that I didn’t want to attend an interview during a fast….plus its that TTOM, and I was just plain HUNGRY. lol.
Tuesday, I had to sign on, thats always fun…NOT.
Don’t know why I bother to do my searches, logs etc… they don’t bother to check.
All the job points have been removed from my job centre, replaced with 2 computers. You can’t just nip on and look though – you have to speak to one of the security guards, who then has to go get a special folder and note down details from you – one of which was NI number.  Just glad I have a computer of my own.
Went grocery shopping after – daughters were with me.  We had the £10 voucher from collecting vouchers the previous 2 weeks (Morrisons) so that was a little help.  Ended up getting some school stuff for the girls – a dress each (£5 each), pack of 2 polo shirts each (£3 per pack) and a pack of undies each (think they were £2.50?) Still got a bit to get – shoes, coats, new bags because they have holes in their current ones… probably some more that I am forgetting at the moment.

Wednesday – Triage phoned (urgh) – said I had to go down that afternoon to fill in a vetting form for a cleaners job with the police.  Also I had to be available to go to Dundee (city 20 or so miles away) the next day to talk to someone there about it.

I was confused, I had not applied for any cleaning positions with the police.

I know she sometimes puts me forward for jobs though, so I agreed to go down that afternoon.

My mum came to look after the kids, I was stressed – always am before signing on or triage appointments, and she drove me down there to the centre.  Dropped me off and drove away, I went in.
Soon as I went in I asked for more information about the position as I couldn’t remember it, she just kept saying “remember I put you forward for it” Umm…no thats why I am asking about it…..
She then proceeds to say “You can get to the police station by 6am right?”
Yup folks, 6am start….how am I supposed to do that with 2 children as a single parent???
I told her no, not possible and I would never have agreed to be put forward for a position that involved those hours (I have agreed restricted availability on my jobseeker agreement due to having children under 12) She “swears” she told me the hours on the phone (she didn’t) – if she had I would have told her that wasn’t possible on the phone and not inconvenienced my mum!!!
So, the triage visit that I had worried myself about all day took 2 minutes. My mum wasn’t happy.

Friday – had to attend triage again (the “normal” arranged weekly appointment) for a job search.  An hour sitting on a really slow computer doing exactly what I do from home every day.  So productive. My ex had the kids Thursday night so still had them at the time of my appointment so at least I didn’t have to worry about finding someone to have them this time.

Wow, this is a long post!
Oh dear, I do ramble on… congratulations and thank you if you have bothered to read this far! lol.

Almost done…
Weigh in’s
Wk6 13/07/14 – 107.6kg (- 0.3kg this week)
Wk7 20/07/14 – 108.0kg (+0.4kg this week)

Really need to get back into the 5:2 eating plan.  I really do think it helps me and many people on the facebook group have had great success with it.  I think it is something that can be done long term – maybe just as 6:1 once all the weight is lost though!

DD2 is now 9!

DD2 – my youngest little princess turned 9!

Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

We didn’t do much, it was raining so we had a picnic of sorts indoors….

dd2food

Cake ofc…

dd2

and she decided she wanted her ear’s pierced… so we did that too (on Thurs 17th July)
“Best present eva!” apparently. :)

(lol, just noticed she is actually wearing the same dress on the 17th to get her ears done as she wore on her birthday on the 8th! That wasn’t planned xD)

dd2ear

 

(Was late posting about this, post actually written on 20th July but re-dated to her actual birthday just for post neatness xD)