To feel bloody sorry for some of the people who work in Job Centre

(206 Posts)
NurseyWursey Thu 27-Mar-14 13:49:47

I had to go into today to discuss why I'm not working at the moment (few of you know, lets not get into that)

The lady who was seeing me said she'd be over in a minute, she was just dealing with another person so I waited. I was close enough to hear the conversation and I've got hawk ears and am nosy

Man: How am I supposed to print cvs out with no f*ckin money

Woman: X you missed your last appointment with us, you'd have money if you'd have come. You know it gets stopped if you don't come

Man: I didn't have any f*ckin money to come

Woman: I can see that you live less than a mile from here, or is there any disabilities or conditions you need to tell me about and I can arrange something for you

Man: no am not a cripple. why the f*ck should i have to walk to you. its too early in the mornin anyway me appointment i need sleep. i need money. you're not helping me

Woman: I'm really sorry X but if you want the money you need to come. You've come today so we can get the money reinstated. In the meantime the library round the corner lets you print for free, could you print some there?

Man: am not goin to no pssin library you stupid cow. wot you think I want to sit in a library for?

At this point he stands up being really abusive, the secretary had to escort him away. When it was my turn she was visibly upset.


How can you help someone who isn't willing to help themselves? I know it's bloody hard when you're skint and emotions run high, and we get volatile especially if we have children to feed, but good grief.

On the plus side she was fab for me and helped me get access to some financial help until I'm ready to work again!
If this woman was you, thanks to you!

spinnergeologist Mon 31-Mar-14 13:26:15

I know someone who used to work at the job centre and feel really sorry for her, some of the stories she tells are horrible. Also each government changes the goal posts so they are always playing catchup.

However when my dh was made redundant for the second time (years ago now) he was told that I obviously earned enough money to keep him so why not get me pregnant and live off the benefits?

Also similar stories of being put on courses he didn't need (also has a degree so capable of using word), asking him to apply for jobs that he wasn't qualified for (required CSCS cards or similar) or were going to cost more to get to than they paid. When he asked someone to look through his CV with him he was told to pay for a private company to do it. When he did get a interview it just happened to fall over his job centre appointment and he was told he was lying about the interview and was just sciving even after showing the invitation to interview. It made him feel so small and as though it was his fault he had been made redundant. The bullying behaviour knocked his confidence so much he didn't believe he was fit for any job.

When we finally scrapped together enough money for him to do some worthwhile training that has helped him find work we were subject to a investigation for fraudulent benefit claims as he was obviously working to find the money. We had actually saved every bit of birthday and christmas money (asked for cash not presents) and delved the savings to do it. Plus he wasn't entitled to any benefits due to not paying tax as a student. Not sure now we could commit fraud on money that he didn't get.

They were so warped by dealing with the stereotype job centre applicant they didn't want to see people who were actually trying.

btw i got him to complain eventually, though it took a threat to take it to the press to get a apology

Allergictoironing Mon 31-Mar-14 11:15:37

It was my signing on day today. Big bright smiles from all the security/reception staff and a pleasant "good morning". New main advisor due to a reshuffle there, so she went out of her way to go through my job searching & CV to see if I was missing any tricks (I'm not). Asked what blockers I was finding in my job search in case she could advise on anything (none that she could do anything about). Unfailingly pleasant & friendly. I live in a not-great town with high unemployment levels & comparatively low social status for the majority of residents, but the staff at my JCP are all lovely, sympathetic & do what they can when it is clear that you really are trying to get a job. If you are friendly and smile, they respond to that.

So I suppose I'm just repeating all the other comments that it very much depends on both the individual staff member and the general ethos of that particular office (with a bit of local/regional policy thrown in).

ParsingFancy Mon 31-Mar-14 08:33:11

Well there's an indictment of how well we've demonised the unemployed.

Nobody refuses to sit in the GP's waiting room because they don't want to be "those" people. Because there is no "those" people.

People who lose their jobs know fine well you are sitting in judgement on them, waiting to decide "who is a scrounger". And if they don't get the message from you in person, they'll certainly get it from the literature, where even the simplest communication is laced with threats of prosecution.

Defnotsupergirl Mon 31-Mar-14 07:09:06

I worked for a job centre until not long ago. Everyone that comes through that door is quite convinced they are not scroungers, each has a story which has got them there, some cannot understand why they are at fault (lack of awareness of appropriate behaviour) and why they lost their job. I have had people come into my little room saying they don't want to sit outside with "those" people, what, the public? Other job seekers like yourself? I had people that would limit themselves so specifically to one type of work, not understanding for some reason that from a benefit point of view, any work is acceptable work and people cannot be choosy.
I've had people with 3 good degrees come in who have no social awareness. People think they have to go on these courses to be trained in basic computer work but to be honest very often it is to assess whether they need any further input or whether they are actually employable. Some graduates are so superior and just don't understand they can't tell the boss of a company how to do their job on the first day at work. People have told me they have work lined up many months into the future, so, the public is supposed to support them until this possible job comes up then?
Everyone that came through that door started with a smile of welcome from me, I genuinely wanted to help people back into work. Unfortunately not everyone sees this and it isn't easy to see who is a "scrounger" and who is someone that just, through no actual fault of their own, virtually unemployable.

MrsDeVere Sun 30-Mar-14 22:44:57

I work with disabled children. How anyone without English can be expected to negotiate the medical and SEN systems is beyond me.

The families I work with are at the very first stages of diagnosis. They have years and years of appointments and meetings, treatments and decisions about education and therapies ahead of them.

Its heartbreaking to see how some of them struggle to even grasp what is going on.

Interpreters are not always available and some have to rely on family member who do NOT relay information accurately. Some are totally upfront and tell us 'they don't need to know that!'. Even when you get an interpreter they often do not have sufficient specialist knowledge to do the job properly.

Of course lots of women do learn English and a hell of a lot quicker than I would learn a second language.

I just wish it was the most vulnerable ones who did.

Nocomet Sun 30-Mar-14 22:23:59

My old university used to run free EFL classes for foreign students, especially post grad and post docs wives. Otherwise they could get very isolated.

ProfondoRosso Sun 30-Mar-14 21:49:54

I get what you mean, MrsD. My immediate reaction to the suggestion that English learning should be compulsory is to think far right nastiness but, especially for vulnerable women, it can be so important in terms of service users' personal safety and autonomy.

My pal who's originally from Somalia volunteers in hospitals and other places as an Arabic interpreter but fluent, good hearted people like him (who don't have dependants themselves and can afford to give their time for free) are not all that common. And often women don't want a male interpreter.

I cannot imagine the pain and desperation a displaced woman who can't speak English but is trying to get help to work and feed her children must go through.

MrsDeVere Sun 30-Mar-14 21:16:58

I am of the opinion that learning English should be compulsory.
That makes me sound like the complete opposite of what I am - a right old leftie - but I my reasons are nothing to do with nationalism.

I just come across so many women who cannot access local services for themselves or their children and it bothers me greatly.

If it was compulsory it would be so much harder for them to be prevented from learning English by controlling men, cultural beliefs or just through lack of resources.

But afaik ESOL classes are being cut so its getting harder, not easier, to learn.

I don't think there is a way of making people learn without causing unpleasant issues though. I wish there was a way of doing it that didn't make me think of the Far Right.

AllDirections Sun 30-Mar-14 21:02:06

I have some involvement on the courses that the JC send people on. I used to work in my home town and the majority of people were genuine jobseekers, lovely to work with and I felt that we made a difference. Now I'm working in a different town (for the same company) and it's a horrible environment to work in.

Generally I go out of my way to help and support people to fulfil the requirements set by the JC, even when I'm not supposed to. I ignored a direct order from my manager once and refused to send someone away because I knew she'd be sanctioned unless we sorted out her problem. We know some of the reasons that the JC sanctions people so we try to deal with those issues even when people are rolling their eyes at us telling us what a fucking waste of time this is I've heard stories about how horrible JC staff can be but this is generally from people who are very, very difficult to work with so I don't always believe them.

I'm sure it does happen though because the way that one of my colleagues used to speak to people made me cringe and when I overheard people calling her a snotty cow very quietly to each other I didn't say anything because I agreed with them. And if they'd complained I would have backed them not her. Fortunately I don't work with her anymore.

Goblinchild Sun 30-Mar-14 20:18:36

That was my thought too, Needs. I knew numerous women who were not permitted to leave the house without a male relative accompanying them, and who were not allowed access to English classes as a way of controlling them.

NeedsAsockamnesty Sun 30-Mar-14 20:16:28

Woman's aid can via a translation service point her in the direction of free help

NeedsAsockamnesty Sun 30-Mar-14 20:14:58

None English speaking women who have been in the uk for quite some time should be a domestic abuse flag.

It's quite usual for an abuser to prevent them learning the language to increase dependency and limit help seeking opportunities

NurseyWursey Sun 30-Mar-14 20:02:47

Although in the meantime I'm not sure what she can do sad

NurseyWursey Sun 30-Mar-14 20:01:11

protege I understand, it must be very very hard for her. I think this is why it needs to be emphasised that learning the language is so important. I mean I know no-one wants to imagine that their family life is going to break down, but it happens. Working in the NHS I've had problems trying to triage people because I can't get any information at all..

ProtegeMoi Sun 30-Mar-14 19:54:37

Nursey - completely agreed and she is desperately trying to learn English, sadly the only course in this area dosnt start until September and any other course will cost money she dosnt have. She will be starting English lessons in September but in the meantime she needs to feed her children. She didn't expect her husband to suddenly leave and have to jump through these hoops that are clearly impossible.

CalamitouslyWrong Sun 30-Mar-14 19:34:40

Oh, DH is absolutely fine, Profondo. It was about five years ago now (but we both remember how utterly useless the job centre were). He's been in a lecturing post for a while now. He did a stint as an (unpaid) research fellow at the university I used to work for, which managed to turn into an RA post and then managed to get himself a lectureship (but we did have to move and I had to do really crappy commutes for years). I dread to think what it would be like trying to get our first academic posts now. Things seem to be ever harder.

Custardo Sun 30-Mar-14 16:46:22

you can't improve the system when there are not the jobs go go round.

my ds had some horrible experiences signing on.

He was sanctioned many times, and i got sick of it, so i went with him. Funny that when they were presented with someone who was articulate and didn't just grunt in despair and resignation, they were all over me like a rash, offering courses, very polite etc.

Smilesandpiles Sun 30-Mar-14 16:35:57

I can think of something to improve it.

Put it back the way it was. It wasn't perfect but it did a better job than it's doing now.

NurseyWursey Sun 30-Mar-14 16:34:14

ProtegeMoi but if she's job seeking in England surely she needs to go out of her way to learn English then? It isn't our obligation to teach her English. Translators cost our country an absolute fortune.

NurseyWursey Sun 30-Mar-14 16:29:30

Does anybody have any ideas as to how the system can be improved?

I was thinking about this in bed last night <sad I know> and couldn't come up with anything, interesting question!

Goblinchild Sun 30-Mar-14 09:18:35

Maybe so, Mistress, but does that mean that those who teach 17-18 year olds should change their attitude and make it a more real-life experience, so that JS should be more able to cope with the real world and the unkind, rude and abusive people that they will encounter?
Is this what sort of world we choose to live in?
If you are doing a job that involves people at a vulnerable time in their lives, you should do it with politeness and a helpful and positive attitude.
Perhaps JS centres should be run on a paid/volunteer basis, so that if you are unsuited, you could be asked to leave. How does the CAB work?
Are their staff routinely unpleasant and hostile to people asking for advice?

CannotthinkofaNN Sun 30-Mar-14 06:47:56

I found this article from PCS Union interesting 40% of DWP staff administering universal credit will be UC claimants themselves.

Dolcelatte Sun 30-Mar-14 06:16:56

What an interesting thread!

I suppose the government would say that the 'reforms' are working, since the number of jobless has apparently dropped significantly. However, it has worked at some personal cost to both claimants and those working in the Job Centres.

Does anybody have any ideas as to how the system can be improved? It seems that we currently have a 'one size fits all' policy which often fails to take account of an individual's personal circumstances in terms of education, qualifications, age, family commitments, and physical and mental health. Is there a distinction to be drawn between the 'deserving' and 'undeserving' poor? After reading this thread, I am coming to the conclusion that possibly there is, although it takes me back to my A level History and the Elizabethan Poor Laws and the references to 'sturdy beggars'!

Even on this thread, there are those who obviously feel or are made to feel ashamed for seeking benefits to which they are clearly entitled, after becoming jobless - sometimes for the first time ever - which exacerbates the feelings of worthlessness and despair which can follow a redundancy. There are those who will take any job, on the basis that it is better to be working than not working, and it may lead to other things, and who are up bright and early to await that 'phone call that might just come and which might just lead to a job. I have no doubt that these people will be successful in finding a job.

Then there are others who object to having to get up 'early' to attend the JC during normal working hours, and do not appear to be making quite the same effort to find work, or to be prepared to take on work which they consider to be demeaning in some way, such as cleaning or factory work.

I don't claim to have any answers but I will say what nobody else has said - and I will now hide in my bunker - the country cannot afford a welfare bill which is not tightly controlled and managed, although the system currently in place would appear to be in need of reform.

MistressDeeCee Sun 30-Mar-14 04:00:14

Everybody's story and character is different. Some people are nice. Some are not. Whether staff or client. One person's behaviour does not denote another's. Thats the reality of life and the world.

Hiawatha44 Sat 29-Mar-14 23:46:36

When I was on jsa my advisor was great but it was 7 & half mile to the job centre and if I'd had to pay a bill or ran out milk .... Whatever I didn't always have the busfare. I still went, walked there and back but it was a very degrading feeling and I was absolutely exhausted at the end of. I also know I very lucky I heard some of the other advisors being very rude then again equally I heard many other job seekers being threatening. Swings and rounds I suppose sometimes you're lucky sometimes you're not.

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