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!

Dwerf Thu 27-Mar-14 13:59:46

It's the same as with all jobs. The job centre has some nasty, vindictive, up-their-own-arse snooty bastards working for them. But they also have some genuinely nice people there, who have constructive ideas, who understand that people's situations are not black and white and who have the patience of saints.

I used to have this advisor a couple of years ago, fresh to the job, always well turned out, cheerful and really nice. These days he's put on weight, looks sallow and just as miserable as the claimants. I don't think it's a job with much joy in it.

whomadeyougod Thu 27-Mar-14 14:02:45

while i was waiting at the job centre a bloke was drinking cans of beer and shouting he needs his fucking money now, im surprised how the people working there can be so polite and helpful to them , i couldnt work there id end up in prison.

NurseyWursey Thu 27-Mar-14 14:06:35

Oh fully agree Dwerf

I remember when I was on JSA for 2 weeks when I was 19, because of redundancy.

'you'll have to change your CV here and ... here. dont include that, no-one cares about your voluntary work either. oh and make all these into bullet points. '

'oh well actually I quite like it like that and it's been really successful so far'

'no, you will change it'


Goblinchild Thu 27-Mar-14 14:07:57

I hate the fact that my DD and two of her friends have had separate appointments with the same person for JSA and she has been foul, tactless and aggressive to them.
They are polite young women who are looking for a job, not lazy, entitled snobs. You had one in tears, and it was only when they shared their experiences that they realised it wasn't them, it was you.
Your other encounters shouldn't affect your professional behaviour, and the fact that they are unemployed doesn't give you the right to bully them.

Nocomet Thu 27-Mar-14 14:10:17

However, it's 13 miles to the job centre here and three miles to the bus stop.

So when next door phones up the job centre with the same problem, I can see his point.

NurseyWursey Thu 27-Mar-14 14:14:13

^However, it's 13 miles to the job centre here and three miles to the bus stop.

So when next door phones up the job centre with the same problem, I can see his point.^

Oh christ that's terrible! I wonder what the man I encountered would say to that hmm

Goblinchild Thu 27-Mar-14 14:16:59

Oh yes, she doesn't see the logic in applying for a minimum wage job when the monthly season ticket to get there is £400 and will involve a journey of up to 3 hours on a good day.
She was calm and logical and you shouted and frothed over the top of her reasoning. She is afraid of you now.

Goblinchild Thu 27-Mar-14 14:18:08

I am glad you said some of the people OP, because there are others I wish to tar and feather and treat like a pinata.

Allergictoironing Thu 27-Mar-14 14:18:30

its too early in the mornin anyway me appointment i need sleep

Bearing in mind that the earliest appointment at my local jobcentre is at 9:30am, that (along with the mile distance being too far to walk) is possibly his worst answer. I'm job hunting at the moment, and get up every morning at 7:30am at the very latest so I can be up, showered, dressed and with sufficient tea in me to be fully with it if an agency calls at 8:15am (yes I've had them call that early). And if he needs his sleep that much what about if he ever DOES get a job, I usually get up around 6am ish to commute well over an hour into London when I am working.

People like that guy are the ones who give all currently unemployed people a bad name, and justify the DWP policy makers when they dole out sanctions at the faintest excuse.

Please note I am NOT having a go at the poor guys who work in the jobcentres, I too have plenty of sympathy for them and I know that at least at my local one most of the staff are unhappy at the way some jobseekers are treated. But what can they do about it - if they don't apply the rules to the letter then they themselves will be out of a job. Not that it's a brilliantly paid job, at about £15-17k to have all that abuse thrown at them sad

TaliZorahVasNormandy Thu 27-Mar-14 14:29:46

Im on JSA atm (over a year, I fecking hate it, but no one will employee me, no matter how many jobs I apply for or CV's sent out), I barely send 2 minutes with an advisor, they literally check my jobsearch, sign me on, and I leave.

My friend did tell me about her colleagues mum, who dealt with special cases, and had to sit there and listen to a bloke describe how he raped a 6 yr old, the poor woman went and cried her heart out after.

Some who work in my local jobcentre are up their own arse, one sneered at me for daring to do Open University.

NurseyWursey Thu 27-Mar-14 14:33:39

I remember a friend on mine who worked at the job centre telling me a story, from years ago mind.

Fella who she'd seen regularly came in, enquired about benefits for when a baby comes.
She congratulated him and said she didn't know he was a dad
He said it wasn't planned, so she did the ah sometimes contraception fails.. yadah yadah.
He turned round and said well it's them bloody asda bags, didn't know they had holes in them.

She said she asked him if he was joking and he actually said no, they used an asda bag and went on about how crap it worked.

I know it doesn't sound true but she's not one to lie!

TaliZorahVasNormandy Thu 27-Mar-14 14:39:48

Ewwwwwwwwwwww, feel sorry for that kid, having to complete idiots for parents.

Theresadogonyourballs Thu 27-Mar-14 14:41:32

A friend of mine works in the Job Centre. She tells many hair raising and distressing tales, but my favourite one was the man who paused half way through berating her to shit in his own pants. No SN, he just did it to piss her off. Charming.

DrewsWife Thu 27-Mar-14 14:41:33

I used to work in a job centre and it was an eye opener.

I used to be a mouse. Would sit and take abuse and not think about it.

I had a man stab his neck with a pen and bleed over my desk, I had paedophiles describe their fun, I have been approached in the street and threats whispered in my ear whilst walking with my toddler.

When at work I was yelled at, threatened, smiled at. And made friends.

I miss the job but not the stresses.

Yes there are some bad staff and good. Just like everywhere.

If they are them out on it. wink

NurseyWursey Thu 27-Mar-14 14:57:39

I've just written her supervisor a letter to say how lovely she was and how much she helped.

Hopefully it'll cheer her up and make her realise some of us do appreciate it when they try.

It's one of the first times I've been out since I've been ill and she made me feel so comfortable so I think she deserves some recognition.

Callani Thu 27-Mar-14 15:19:28

Sorry, why do job centre staff have to listen to paedophiles talk about their latest exploits? How on earth is that within the job description???

VikingLady Thu 27-Mar-14 15:32:35

All but one of the dozen or so staff I've dealt with at my local job centre have been lovely. The ones at the centre I went to when I was 21 and unemployed after graduation were ALL arses who were gratuitously nasty. I haven't changed much other than to look older, my manners were always good. Either they hated students (not uncommon!) or it was the branch!

TaliZorahVasNormandy Thu 27-Mar-14 15:47:22

Callani I dont think it is, in the case of my friends colleagues mum, he apparently just wouldnt shut up, she had to do her job which meant signing him on. Sad for her and the others who suffer abuse, they cant just have them removed.

Smilesandpiles Thu 27-Mar-14 15:48:14


fromparistoberlin73 Thu 27-Mar-14 15:54:51

i agree OP.

CalamitouslyWrong Thu 27-Mar-14 15:54:58

I think an Asda bag would be very effective contraception. There's literally no way I'd have sex with someone if he wrapped his penis in a carrier bag (so no danger whatsoever of pregnancy).

littlemisssarcastic Thu 27-Mar-14 15:56:53

Theresadogonyourballs How awful for that job centre worker. That is truly vile.
What sort of person would even think to shit their pants to Piss someone off. The mind boggles.

TaliZorahVasNormandy Thu 27-Mar-14 15:57:18

I think an Asda bag would be very effective contraception. There's literally no way I'd have sex with someone if he wrapped his penis in a carrier bag (so no danger whatsoever of pregnancy).

Lmao!!!!!, theres always one though.

wonkylegs Thu 27-Mar-14 16:10:30

When I had to go to the job centre following redundancy one or two of the staff were lovely and some others were shockingly patronising & rude.
One member of staff kept saying I would definitely need more training, despite the fact that I have 3 university degrees & several professional qualifications he thought I was 'a waste of his time' because I pointed out that there was no point in me going on a computer basics course to bolster my CV, it would be a waste of a place that somebody else who could use it could take up.
He was extremely rude and patronising and said my point of view really didn't count as I clearly only had myself to blame for not having a job.
Yep clearly the world global economic crisis making a key client go busy & forcing my company to declare itself insolvent & make all it's staff redundant was all my fault!
I only signed on for a few weeks because when you get redundancy through the insolvency service they deduct your JSA claim from your payment whether or not you claim it, so I would have been out of pocket had I not claimed.
I sorted out my employment situation without their help & felt very lucky to have not needed real help & support as I don't feel it would have necessarily been available.

wonkylegs Thu 27-Mar-14 16:10:50

*bust not busy

WooWooOwl Thu 27-Mar-14 16:23:52

YANBU, the example in the OP is shocking.

People like that shouldn't be able to use the services of the job centre, the same as if anyone was that abusive in a shop the shop would refuse to serve them.

I'm sure there are a few arseholes working at job centres, but I'd guess that the majority who are rude and patronising to service users have just gone on the defensive after having to take a massive amount of crap from so many people.

mrssnodge Thu 27-Mar-14 16:28:21

My brother was temp unemployed from college lecturing post and before that he was a teacher and was told his benefit would be stopped if he did not attend a literacy course-
He told them in a VERY loud voice so the whole place could hear-'your the one who needs the literacy course' , my records clearly state my last employment just two weeks ago! I can bloody read and write thanks very much & got up and walked out in disgust .

niceguy2 Thu 27-Mar-14 16:28:45

Unfortunately I get the sense that the above example is probably par for the course and not even a surprise encounter for JSA staff. They probably get that sort of attitude day in day out.

It's people like that which fuck it up for the genuine claimants that just need temporary help to get back on their feet.

Naoko Thu 27-Mar-14 16:29:55

I have friends who work in the contact centres. (so the people you speak to on the phone if you have a query, not the people you have face to face appointments with). Their work conditions are shocking. They speak to some awful people on the phone, but the main problem is the employer. I don't think all the contact centres are like that, but the one I know of is appalling. I certainly do feel sorry for the people who work there - because every last one of them I know is depressed, living in fear of their employer, and desparately wants out.

NobodyLivesHere Thu 27-Mar-14 16:32:30

That's pretty tame. I got pissed on when I worked for DWP. Literally pissed on.

mrsleomcgary Thu 27-Mar-14 16:36:07

Claimed jsa for 6 months when the company I worked for went bust. All but one of the people I saw when signing on we're patronising shits but doing that job I can see why!

The area I had live in is classed as socially deprived so they had more than their fair share of junkies and scroungers to deal with but they tarred everyone with the same brush. On one occasion I was told I had to go on a course about how to find a job (one which it turned it I could have taught) and they booked me on it on the afternoon I volunteered at a local hospice so I asked if I could go on a different day. Advisor actually put her pen down, folded her arms on the desk, tilted her head to the side and said that my payment would be stopped if I didn't go. This was a the time David Cameron was talking about encouraging the unemployed to volunteer so I pointed out I was doing exactly what her boss wanted me to but if she didn't like it I would of course tell the hospice I couldn't come in that day. I got booked in for the next morning. What really wound me up though was she had my cv in front of her so she knew why I was claiming yet still treated me like an idiot.

I'm sure it must be a soul destroying job so can imagine that any niceness you have towards people coming in would run out within the first week, I feel sorry for them but surely they know who's actually looking for work and who's out to get everything they can without doing anything for it and could treat people accordingly.

PuppyMonkey Thu 27-Mar-14 16:38:52

I got made redundant and had to sign on for a few weeks last year.The nearest job centre is in a notoriously rough town on the Derbyshire/Notts border. Every single member of staff was pleasant and lovely, really helpful about useful courses available, not mean, not snotty. And actually the clients were all really nice too, holding doors open and passing the time of day. I was genuinely impressed by how totally unhorrible the whole experience was.

NobodyLivesHere Thu 27-Mar-14 16:39:58

Mrsnodge, I don't see the need for disgust at that

And it's you're.

littlemisssarcastic Thu 27-Mar-14 16:40:35

Nobodyliveshere How did that happen?

AllDirections Thu 27-Mar-14 16:40:38

I work with the kind of people like that man you overheard OP, though not for the job centre. Some of them are worse, some are not quite so bad and a very small percentage of lovely and genuine. We have them in groups and it's utterly soul destroying trying to work with people like that. I've just handed in my notice, I can't take it any more sad

WooWooOwl banning people isn't straightforward. The counter argument is that it may increase incidences of abuse as some people will see it as a way of getting their benefits without the need to attend the Jobcentre and comply with the conditionality requirements and this may increase their stay/dependence on benefit.

Far better is to bring them in at quiet times when there isn't an audience to play too.

Just like staff, some claimants will be jerks - you need to learn how to manage those jerks (whichever side of the desk they are)

Misspixietrix Thu 27-Mar-14 16:45:10

Sorry to be pinickety but it isn't actually free to print in our libraries. I'm sure I used to keep them in business when I was at Uni with my printing! grin. Agree with dwarf though. They're are some right condescending twats working in some Jobcentres. They're are also some lovely lovely people working in others and indeed the same ones. The thing about no Money to get there though. I remember walking to one many times (the vindictive one) when ExH lost his job. We had no choice.

CrystalJelly Thu 27-Mar-14 16:47:31

I don't feel sorry for then one iota. My experience of the job has been horribly negative. I'm sure there are some nice people working for them, but most are rude and treat all claimants like they are lazy, benefit scrounging scum. I've worked since I was 16 and I don't think it's acceptable to tar me with the same brush as someone who's bone idle and hasn't a worked a day in their lives, which is what most of the advisors seem to do.

NurseyWursey Thu 27-Mar-14 16:48:19

misspixie But it is in ours, that was the point

Xfirefly Thu 27-Mar-14 16:49:59

I know some people who work in the job centres are lovely and put up with shite but I've witnessed my DM and DF been treated like dirt when they were on JSA from being made redundant. They were so patronising and making unrealistic demands. They sent my dad on a 'training' day and had him playing with playdough (seriously). he stormed out. they was forcing my DM on a numeracy and literacy course even though she has book keeping and accounts qualifications. The courses would be great for people who struggle with these things but forcing people who dont need it is odd.

Heathcliff27 Thu 27-Mar-14 16:53:43

15 years working with DWP issuing crisis loans, i was spat at, called every name under the sun, i was threatened in the street when i was shopping locally with my children. For £15k a year at the time, after 15 years the work was centralised and I was offered redundancy, I almost grabbed their arm off. Never ever again.

starfishmummy Thu 27-Mar-14 16:59:32

I think some libraries will have "clubs" where jobseekers can get free help.

And many jobentres have facilities to print copies.

Bassetfeet Thu 27-Mar-14 17:01:06

Awful rude staff and totally uninterested . I was an easy target to bully and patronise . Unsure and afraid ..must have stuck out like sore thumb.

CrystalJelly Thu 27-Mar-14 17:04:06

I needed a CRB for my current job, obviously as anyone who's had one knows they can take ages, I couldn't start before I had it so still needed to sign on. My advisor was aware I had a job and was just waiting for my CV before starting but still insisted that I applied for everything and anything under the sun and pointed out that my benefits would be stopped if I didn't do this. It didn't matter how many times I pointed out that I had a bloody job and that I'd be wasting time by applying for other things, it was like talking to a brick wall.

I know people who run their own business and people who do the hiring and firing for big firms and they say that he amount of unsuitable candidates who apply because they've been forced to do so is unreal. It wastes time.

The people mentioned in the OP are the eons that give the unemployed a bad name, but most unemployed people are NOT like this and deserve to be treated with respect.

NobodyLivesHere Thu 27-Mar-14 17:04:14

I was interviewing him for a crisis loan and he wet himself a over the floor between us and the first either of us realised it was when my sandal clad feet felt wet.
I got abused, insulted, threatened, called names daily. I worked a 45-50 hour week for the grand sum of £12k a year and my work load doubled in the space of 2 years when the old DSS was disbanded in favour of JCP and the pensions service, rules and procedures change weekly, training is at best out of date and at worst non-existent. It's not a place of fun at all.

AmberLeaf Thu 27-Mar-14 17:13:52

Like most things, some people will be nice, some horrible. That goes for the JC advisors and the clients.

I have experience of a few really nasty for the sake of it ones [advisors], but also some who were lovely, interested and seemed to genuinely want to help.

People facing money being stopped [so no food, heat etc] are people at their wits end. It isn't surprising that some, particularly those who are inarticulate, will fly off the handle. That doesn't excuse abusive behavior, but from what Ive seen, a patronising and confrontational manner that some advisors have, really doesn't help matters.

A friend of mine recently had her JSA stopped because she missed a signing on appointment, that may seem fair, but she had informed them she wouldn't be able to attend because she had a job interview this left her with very little money until it was sorted out.

Nocomet Thu 27-Mar-14 17:15:45

We did have a job centre up 5 miles up the road, which was cycle-able if you are young, fit and didn't mind 40 ton lorries, but it went years ago in a previous round of cuts.

You can imagine in an area with a fair bit of seasonal work and people sighing on and off benefits, the OPs conversation occurs quite often, with a great deal more justification.

Oh and now they want to cut our (3 mile away buses) to one every two hours, meaning short appointments in town can quite easily waste most of the day.

Dwerf Thu 27-Mar-14 17:23:46

mrsleomcgary I'm on a similar course at the moment, it's so ridiculously patronising it's untrue. Examples of unit questions are "Why is it important to be on time for work?" and "why is uniform important at work?" This is a two week course. It's supposedly to brush up my skills. Skills at what? Controlling eye-rolling and tongue-biting? The tutor is fabulous though, can't fault him.

hickorychicken Thu 27-Mar-14 17:27:23

My experience with the jobcentre has always been positive but i think when you show how desperate you are for work they tend to appreciate this and treat you like a person rather than a number.
I was under the impression that if you had been on JSA 6 months you were automatically put on to an employment training scheme A4E etc but my advisor (this may have changed it was a good few years ago) said that it was their discretion whether to put people on it, say, the people who weren't making enough effort.
I really feel sorry for training providers sat in a room full of people who didnt want to be there and are just difficult about everything.

starlight1234 Thu 27-Mar-14 17:28:27

I signed on for JSA for about 2 months and found the staff patronising and rude , the attitude only changed when I got my job...

I was even told off for standing on the carpet before I was called shock

So while this staff should not of been spoken to like that not a prefession I have much sympathy for

CrystalJelly Thu 27-Mar-14 17:30:20

I also know someone who was sanctioned for going to a job interview. I know another person who signed off to take up a Christmas job and then had a nightmare when trying to sign back on.

The JC staff are such jobsworhts.

Ohwhatfuckeryisthis Thu 27-Mar-14 17:36:07

Ds 1 has been for his first interview today sent by JS+. He's 25, Aspergers and dyspraxic. They sent him for telesales. Was there 5 minutes and they said they couldn't read his writing or understand his speech. Thanks job centre.

hickorychicken Thu 27-Mar-14 17:36:57

Thats awful.

CalamitouslyWrong Thu 27-Mar-14 17:39:17

Tbf, I think that IDS is very much of the mind that job centre staff should be petty jobsworths and, ideally, thoroughly evil.

Goblinchild Thu 27-Mar-14 17:44:43

Ohwhat, I'm sort of in the same position. DS volunteers in a role he truly enjoys and is happy in. If I got him to sign on for JSA and he was interviewed by the same nasty bitch that his sister was, I'd be worried about the consequences. For both of them.
So he's off the grid for the moment: no job, no JSA, 10 GCSEs A-C and three A levels. Happy as a lark.
I'd pay £50 a week for the lack of stress TBH.

PartialFancy Thu 27-Mar-14 17:45:14

I'm not sure how fabulous anyone can be when their whole job consists of taking the taxpayer for a ride.

"Courses" like that are of benefit only to the person giving them.

LokiDokey Thu 27-Mar-14 17:46:14

DH found them to be a mix of helpful, patronising and disinterested. He only visited a few times thankfully but said every form he was told to fill in would always be the wrong one and he'd be given another instead.

I recall him coming home one day completely dejected. He'd been made redundant from a pretty high council post, this particular lady handed him a part time cleaning job to apply for on the basis that 'it's at the council!' Thankfully he got a job not long after but I think that was about his lowest point through it all.

formerbabe Thu 27-Mar-14 17:53:15

Why don't they run a two tier job centre system.

All the pleasant staff deal with the pleasant, polite claimants who genuinely want to find a job.

All the nasty members of staff get to deal with the scroungers.

Could call it scum and non scum.

NurseyWursey Thu 27-Mar-14 17:55:22

He'd been made redundant from a pretty high council post, this particular lady handed him a part time cleaning job to apply for on the basis that 'it's at the council!'

That's their job though, they have to get you into any job so you aren't claiming benefits.

Smilesandpiles Thu 27-Mar-14 17:55:34

Wow, another label for the jobless to be branded with. Thanks for that.

Seriously, don't even joke about it. There's enough crap the jobless have to put up with as it is, comments like that, even if ment as a joke still hurt and are not helpful to anyone.

uselessidiot Thu 27-Mar-14 17:56:08

I feel really sorry for the woman in the OP, she sounds as if she's really helpful.

However I've had terrible experience with the job centre. I was really polite and asked for help, particularly if there was any CV guidance. I went the day after being made redundant and never went back so didn't complete my claim. The advisor made me feel so ashamed I felt I couldn't, he was the final straw after redundancy. It took me 7 months to get a job which was for less than half what I'd originally earned. All that time with no income accelerated my descent to rock bottom and homelessness. The advisor took my NI number and on that alone told my I'd be incapable of any of the jobs advertised at the time. Told me I deserved to lose my job for not sticking in at school and suggested I learn some skills so that I looked less stupid. In answer to my CV question I was told to get off my fat arse and do something. Went on about how he hated people like me who thought they could get away without working a day in my life. I left in tears that day.

DH was lucky enough not to come across anyone so rude. However they did make him apply for a call centre job even though he's deaf. He felt humiliated by this and guilty for knowingly wasting the company's time but the JC gave him no choice.

LokiDokey Thu 27-Mar-14 17:58:16

Nursey. They knew he was the only earner, they knew we had a mortgage etc. Handing him any job is fine, but handing him a part time job paying £7k a year on the sole basis that it was 'at the council'. How would that possibly help us as family?

A little common sense goes a long way.

looknow Thu 27-Mar-14 18:02:25

I visit the JCP weekly and am articulate, intelligent and eager to work. They treat me like shit.

When I started looking for work I was confident. Now I am suicidal because of their attitude.

You were lucky Op. Treat people like shit for long enough, they believe it and start to behave as such.

Just wait a bit and see how they treat you after a bit and then come back.

Turquoisetamborine Thu 27-Mar-14 18:03:27

I'm a jobcentre adviser. I'm off sick from today as I've just had ivf last week and someone tried to punch me yesterday. I decided not to put myself in danger so I'll be off til next week.

I've been followed home, had someone try to pull me into their house after flashing a knife at me (luckily a policeman saw my terrified look), been held up against the wall and almost head butted. Every Monday without fail there is a window put out in the office. This Monday we came in to a used needle in a bottle smashed all over the staff entrance. I could go on and on.

My argument yesterday was prompted by asking someone why they hadn't taken the steps I'd asked him to take last week. Just updating his CV and registering with a couple of agencies. We are told by management that tasks given should be time bound and followed up promptly so this is what I was doing. He advised me he had other stuff to do and unless I wanted a kick in the head I should leave him alone. All I am doing is following what i am told to do. I have motivated customers who i generally leave alone but I also have a lot who need prompted to do things and to remember to keep up their activity.

I tell everyone at the start of the claim that they are expects to treat looking for work as a full time job. If not, do they want to proceed with the claim because it is rigorously tested. The government has decided this not me.

I also have some lovely customers who may be carers who rely on me to let off steam and some really nice lone parents who I have a laugh with and I've helped them over the years.

The last year or so has been the hardest ever though, thank God I'm part time.

songlark Thu 27-Mar-14 18:04:40

I just recently read about a man who had to go for a job interview which clashes with his signing on time. He told the job center he'd have to be late with his signing. Guess what...they stopped his money even though he'd explained beforehand. No wonder food banks have been set up all over the country.

expatinscotland Thu 27-Mar-14 18:04:41


Turquoisetamborine Thu 27-Mar-14 18:06:31

I also tell everyone signing on that they have to be willing to take any job not just their usual occupation. If they are a professional I may limit their search to that for a period of a few weeks but after that it's whatever you can get. Again this is government policy.

Turquoisetamborine Thu 27-Mar-14 18:08:16

Formerbabe what a great idea!

Marcipex Thu 27-Mar-14 18:10:45

I found the staff at our job centre rude, arrogant and patronising.
I have worked all my adult life but was left in difficulties when my employer died leaving his business in chaos, wages unpaid, and no reference from him.

They couldn't have been more unkind and unhelpful. It wasn't my fault, or his fault either poor man, but they treated me as if I were lowlife, not someone who had always worked up until then.

NurseyWursey Thu 27-Mar-14 18:10:54

^Nursey. They knew he was the only earner, they knew we had a mortgage etc. Handing him any job is fine, but handing him a part time job paying £7k a year on the sole basis that it was 'at the council'. How would that possibly help us as family?

A little common sense goes a long way^

Don't get me wrong I know what you mean, but that's not the advisors rules. When you sign on you have to sign a form saying you'll take a job at X wage. Their goal is to get people from being unemployed, whether it's 7k or not. Still better than benefits.

LokiDokey Thu 27-Mar-14 18:12:48

I tell everyone at the start of the claim that they are expects to treat looking for work as a full time job. If not, do they want to proceed with the claim because it is rigorously tested. The government has decided this not me.

I think that is what wound my DH up the most. He did just that, he travelled to agencies all over the UK and applied for jobs which would have meant relocating us all. He was on job sites constantly. He'd go in to sign on and be asked to present everything he'd done in minute detail. Meanwhile, someone at the next table would wander in with a can of special brew, stay for all of 30 seconds presenting nothing, then leave.

Smilesandpiles Thu 27-Mar-14 18:13:53

That's the same form that also says you have to be prepared to take a job up to 30 miles away regardless of lack of transport (public or otherwise) or childcare.

There's no point sending people to a job where they will back on the dole in a couple of weeks. So YES, a little common sense does go a long way, a really long way.

firstchoice Thu 27-Mar-14 18:15:15

WHat would happen in a rural area with no bus service if the applicant didn't drive and therefore couldn't get to the job centre? do they pay for taxi's or would you have to ?

Smilesandpiles Thu 27-Mar-14 18:16:53

You'd have to. They say you can claim it back, but by the time you actually get some money back from the first one - you've already paid out for another 5. It's pointless.

LillyAlien Thu 27-Mar-14 18:20:17

How can you help someone who isn't willing to help themselves?

Some of the people in jobcentres are very helpful caring people. But they are not put there to help you. They are put there to deny you the benefits you are entitled to and to keep you out of the unemployment figures. If you are educated, employable and/or better off, they will make you jump through hoops to the point where you stop claiming as it is a waste of your time which could be spent job searching. If you are less likely to find a job, they will try to apply punitive measures to you for not doing everything they tell you too.

There are two types of people in jobcentres, those who know this and those who are going to find out.

songlark Thu 27-Mar-14 18:21:05

I also know of a man who'd been made redundant after being with the same company for 40 years and obviously had paid all his contributions. He went to the job center to make a claim for the first time in his life and basically got treated like shit, like he was asking for something he had no right to. The attitude of some of the staff at these job centers is unbelievably bad and a lot of them should either be trained in "how to speak to people" or else hid away in an office out of sight of the general public.

Goblinchild Thu 27-Mar-14 18:22:37

Ths is also why the cash-in-hand job has returned with a vengeance.
Desperation drives people into illegal and unsafe work.

Smilesandpiles Thu 27-Mar-14 18:30:13

Cash in hand jobs.
Small loan companies
Food banks

I'd love to see if crime numbers have also increased.

Turquoisetamborine Thu 27-Mar-14 18:31:00

Some rural areas have telephone signing.

As in all jobs there are nice people and not so nice people. It's sometimes quite difficult to be constantly smiling and nice to everyone when you have been abused and spat at. The accumulation of stress with very little support is difficult to deal with. I wouldn't say i disliked an entire group of workers like people are saying on here. Speak as you find.

LokiDokey Thu 27-Mar-14 18:34:02

Oh Lilly you summed up DH's experience succinctly with

If you are educated, employable and/or better off, they will make you jump through hoops to the point where you stop claiming as it is a waste of your time which could be spent job searching. If you are less likely to find a job, they will try to apply punitive measures to you for not doing everything they tell you too

He'd left school at 16, started an apprenticeship, worked his way up through the private sector, gained the right qualifications as he went and then worked his way up through the council, he was made redundant at 40. Every time he went it was a frustrating series of forms and as I said earlier the same person who'd given him the form would go on to say "Oh, thats the wrong form". They seemed to be happy to make life as complicated as possible and as you say, the time spent filling in their (wrong) paperwork could have easily been spent job hunting.

Goblinchild Thu 27-Mar-14 18:38:26

We are speaking as we find.
There are other jobs that involve a level of abuse, from working with the elderly as a carer, with the mentally unwell or with children that have additional needs. Doesn't mean that you should be vile to someone as a matter of course.
I've been spat on, had to deal with bodily fluids that weren't mine, sworn at, shoved bitten and had furniture thrown at me by children and parents over the years.
Should I treat future parents and children I encounter with hostility
Or should I remember that it is my job to treat everyone fairly and recognise the reasons behind the actions? Whilst avoiding getting damaged.

Oh we are fair game on here and in person.
Never mind we don't design policy (or are ever consulted) we have to implement whatever the govt of the day decide.
Never mind we don't sanction anyone. That is the job of the DMA who have met neither the officer or the customer.
Never mind the abuse, violence, unbearable pressure to meet random performance measures. Don't perform well? Here's a PIP, then bah bye.
We don't care if you have worked here for 25 years, you've exceeded your sickness absence, bah bye.

When you know the security measures will not stop some psycho getting to you. Or who the psycho will be.

I'd love some of you to sit in my shoes for a month or so. I refuse to go because I'm good at what I do and manage to make a difference to peoples lives most days. That's what matters. But FFS please have some compassion, it's really really hard.

TheXxed Thu 27-Mar-14 18:43:31

Lilly you nailed it

If you are educated, employable and/or better off, they will make you jump through hoops to the point where you stop claiming as it is a waste of your time which could be spent job searching. If you are less likely to find a job, they will try to apply punitive measures to you for not doing everything they tell you too

LokiDokey Thu 27-Mar-14 18:46:49

Katie I don't think anyone on this thread has said all staff are like that. Some were incredibly nice, some were incredibly rude.

CrystalJelly Thu 27-Mar-14 18:47:53

I'm sorry but if Job Centre staff treated all claimants with respect and not like something they've just trodden in then maybe I'd have some sympathy for them. Just look at the posts on here, my experiences aren't unique, sadly they are extremely common.

Not all unemployed are lazy, benefit scrounging scum. The vast majority are hard working people who've ended up in a bad situation through no fault of their own. A little bit of compassion wouldn't go a miss, treat people with respect and you might get it back.

TaliZorahVasNormandy Thu 27-Mar-14 18:49:58

Katie Most of the JC staff I've met have actually been very nice, there have been one or two that have been so truly condescending, it makes my wonder who taught them customer service.

Respect is a two way street, I've never given abuse to JC staff, so I dont appreciate some staff treating me as if Im exactly the same as the ones who have.

LillyAlien Thu 27-Mar-14 18:51:33

Loki this is also the motivation behind making highly qualified people do unpaid work experience and forcing them to interview for any job. Stopping people who have paid into the system from getting the pretty basic help that they are entitled to.

Sadly attitudes like those of the OP make this politically acceptable.

Goblinchild Thu 27-Mar-14 18:56:24

No one should have to put up with abuse and feel afraid if they are doing their job, but no one should be made to feel like a thick, lazy waste of space that would be better off dead, rather than wasting the vauable time of the employee of the job centre.
Which is how DD felt last week. Despite jumping all the sodding hoops.
I've told her she doesn't need to go back, that I can carry both of my children for as long as it takes for them to find somewhere that values them, and that I'd happily stick the money up a certain arse with her own broomstick.
So, we will see what next week brings.

Turquoisetamborine Thu 27-Mar-14 19:00:13

No, what do you do Goblinchild? It's only fair that I should start a thread with my experience of whatever you do too.

Goblinchild Thu 27-Mar-14 19:04:52

I've been a teacher for almost thirty years.
I am hoping that next week, and thereafter, DD meets with a JC worker who actually wants to help her find a job instead of using her as a stress toy.
There must be many of them out there, just as not all teachers are as hateful as often claimed on MN and elsewhere. And not all social workers are child snatchers.

Manchesterhistorygirl Thu 27-Mar-14 19:05:49

I agree with lily, I decided to really reign our horns in and stop claiming when I was made redundant after being treated like a piece of shit by my local job centre staff. I can't tell you how many times I left in tears. I was also threatened with sanctions if I didn't attend a 9am sign on, I explained I was dropping off my eldest at school and couldn't be there before 9:20 at the absolute earliest.

They also suggested dh dropped to part time to allow me to work full time and when I said evening jobs wouldn't be suitable two days a week because I was doing my access course I was told "we aren't here to support the likes of students". I countered with I thought I was to bolster my cv with additional qualifications, but apparently only nonsense like computer skills courses count. I did attend a job club cv class and was sent away because my cv was already spot on!

I could go on and on.

uselessidiot Thu 27-Mar-14 19:14:35

katie I get assaulted at work, verbal abuse daily and I've even had a shotgun in my face. Obviously I'm wary of things kicking off but I always make the effort to be nice to everyone. I've also never been abusive to to anyone serving me in return.

I feel sorry for the JC lady in the OP but I fail to see why it's OK for the guy to speak to me like that. He seemed to delight in the fact he reduced me to a sobbing wreck. No ounce of compassion for me. Why didn't I deserve some? I'm not an abusive client and I have no control over those who are to prevent prevent it. I should not be being punished for the actions of others.

You HAVE to separate each person from the people before and those after because it is the professional thing to do and more importantly you'll go mad if you don't.

NeedsAsockamnesty Thu 27-Mar-14 19:19:13

They are no longer there to help people find jobs or to give help and advice about benefits. They are there to protect the public purse.

Some go above and beyond the requirements placed on them some don't.

The ones who do get shat on from a great height by their boss.

balenciaga Thu 27-Mar-14 19:20:03

Yes I would feel sorry for her too op but have to say I've never ever met anyone nice working in the job centre

When I was on benefits they treated me like shit on their shoe. Yet I was always polite, made sure I was well turned out at my appointments, I was always co operative and willing to do what ever was asked of me.

But I guess they have to deal with a lot of shit so you can imagine why a lot of them end up miserable

Smilesandpiles Thu 27-Mar-14 19:20:54


I remember you from another thread. This job really isn't helping you, but that's not the point.

WE told you to change your username. It's a horrible nickname for you, you deserve much better.

NurseyWursey Thu 27-Mar-14 19:23:04

when I said evening jobs wouldn't be suitable two days a week because I was doing my access course I was told "we aren't here to support the likes of students

What an arse. When I signed on back when I was doing my access course they knocked the hours down I was expected to look for work from 30 odd to 25 so I had college and study time

And they were absolutely full of praise about my qualifications, working all my life etc.

I feel really terrible for the people who've had such a bad experience and STILL have to go through with it.

And I feel sorry for the staff who get threatened and pee'd on

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Smilesandpiles Thu 27-Mar-14 19:31:01

No. You get extra abuse.

RhondaJean Thu 27-Mar-14 19:31:55

I work very closely with the jcp in Thr town I work in and I do feel sorry for the coaches (advisors no longer)

The ones I work with are decent people, and their hands are completely tied with regards to what they do. I know they delay things where they can (for their clients advantage) and try to help people out.

I am also sure that some of the jcp staff are not at all like that but it's wrong to think they are all evil. The system is bad, and it frustrates them as much as the claimants.

Lesleythegiraffe Thu 27-Mar-14 19:40:53

My OH found the opposite at our local Job Centre. He attended all appointments, was willing to take any type of job and was willing to travel to get there.

Every time he went to the JC they offered him no help in finding a job whatsoever but just gave him a list of websites to look at,

So in our experience, the staff at our local JC get paid for doing precious little. I understand that this is not the case in everyone's experience.

ShinyTurd Thu 27-Mar-14 19:41:17

When I was on JSA my I could tell my advisor was looking down on me. When I told him I had a job his whole attitude changed, I knew I wasn't imagining it. He still said I had to apply for temp jobs while I was waiting for the CRB check to come through. I just made them up.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

usualsuspectt Thu 27-Mar-14 19:44:19

Have you left nursing now then. Nursey?

I had a horrible experience while claiming JSA. I had to take my DS with me (aged 23 months) as the job centre was an hour's drive away. To employ a child-minder to care for him while I signed on would have cost me a quarter of the money I would be getting and I just couldn't spare that.

I was accused of using my son as a excuse not to seek work and of not taking the process seriously. I explained the above but was told my money would be stopped. This was my first sign on post initial interview. I explained that I had no choice and she asked where DS's father was in a sneers tone. I told he was at work and didn't want to lose a day's pay for a fifteen minute sign on. She asked where DS's grandparents were and I said his grandfather was self employed and couldn't afford the time off either and that I had no other family. She rolled her eyes and asked what my mother was doing today, I was forced to tell that my mother had recently passed away. She accused me of lying!

Luckily I have experience of working in frontline services so was able to stand up for myself and reported her to the manager there and then. How somebody more vulnerable would have cope in that situation is beyond me.

I was given a different adviser then who was possibly the kindest person I have ever met smile.

WestieMamma Thu 27-Mar-14 19:51:26

I was sent into the job centre to get documents certified in respect of my mum's bereavement payment 3 days after my dad died. Even though they knew the circumstances of why I was there, they treated me like something off the bottom of their shoe. I don't know how people cope with having to deal with them on a regular basis, it must be soul destroying.

CrystalJelly Thu 27-Mar-14 20:00:55

The thing I noticed was that they hate it when you stand up to them, I've heard of people who gave it back to them getting sanctioned.

Funnily enough in my early twenties I worked as a manager for DWP and did a stint on the Social security counter, most of my customers were lovely and accepted my advice. Funnily enough just like normal every day people, what a fucking shock eh? You get dickheads who work and dickheads who don't, FFS.

formerbabe Thu 27-Mar-14 20:25:46

I worked somewhere once where we dealt with grants for free school uniform....this woman came in and I was helping her. Her little boy piped up 'I wanna work here when I'm older mum'. She replied 'nah, you wanna get a proper job!'

Cheeky cow.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AndreasVesalius Thu 27-Mar-14 20:27:24

Two experiences with Job Centre Plus, both dreadful.

Had to sign on when I finished my PGCE, until the new school year started and I could get some supply. Treated like something they had stepped in. I could cope because I knew it wouldn't be long-term for me.

When my Dad died suddenly my mum was 58. She was also severely disabled and hadn't worked since she was 19. When the bereavement payment stopped a month before she turned 60 and she had to visit the Job Centre, she was forced (told she wouldn't get her benefit if she didn't) to climb a set of stairs as the lift was out of order. She got half-way and dislocated her hip. Ended up being taken to hospital in an ambulance. They then stopped her benefit as she hadn't attended.

I'm sure there must be plenty of very pleasant staff working there, but it is a shame that a few rotten apples are able to really distress vulnerable people.

Newsnight had an interesting piece the other week about how some people with MH issues are being sanctioned because their illnesses can make their lives chaotic. No room for compassion in the system, although of course that is not the fault of individual staff.

formerbabe Thu 27-Mar-14 20:31:17

Anything working with the public means you deal with lovely people and vile people.

I thought there was something particularly ironic about someone on benefits sneering at me because of my job....fwiw, I'm not slagging someone off for being on benefits, before I get flamed.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NurseyWursey Thu 27-Mar-14 20:45:48

Have you left nursing now then. Nursey?

For a little while usual Until I get my depression under control. I'm thinking about doing bank work or work as a HCA when I do

TeacupDrama Thu 27-Mar-14 20:51:10

turquoise I thought the rules were that if you had been made redundant etc and had 2 years NI etc that you had 26 weeks to find employment in your own field at comparable salary

a friend of mone qualified nurse etc was made redundant as there were financial difficulties resulting in closure of nursing home she had worked for 15 years she was told that for first 26 weeks she did not have to look for work outside her field, she checked the legal pages of JSA agreement and that is what it said there too,

but after 26 weeks you have to be willing to take any job on any salary within 90 minutes commute

her experience of JSA was mixed some good she got job after 9 weeks but start date was 4 weeks away; no matter how often she explained that you can never start a caring job tomorrow because of CRB checks etc it was pointless applying for more jobs as the start date could not be sooner

it annoys me that some JSA advisers try to tell some clients that they have to do things which are not actually in the law and because they know most people will not read the whole government bill and 200 pages of regulations they unfairly penalise or threaten to penalise clients as above for missing signing on because of interviews when law/ the bill specifically say you can cancel signing on for a job interview with no sanctions provided you prove this is the case etc etc

PartialFancy Thu 27-Mar-14 20:52:56

Ooh, Vesalius, you're one of my heroes you know! 1543 was a busy year...

Sorry, as you were.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Allergictoironing Thu 27-Mar-14 20:54:28

I've had a couple of stints signing on in recent years, and have come across only one pita jobsworth in that time, and a small handful of "going through the motions" ones. I always end up on the list of people that see a different advisor/signer every fortnight for some reason, so I've seen quite a few different people (5 different people on my last 5 visits).

When I've been made to jump through hoops I've always been told with an apology from the JCP staff member who informed me of that hoop e.g. when I'd claimed 6 lots of TIS (Travel to Interview Scheme payment) which had totalled over £100 they HAD to send me to a mock interview & interview training session as that's what the local policy was, the theory being that if you didn't get a job after 6 interviews you must be screwing up at the interview. I wasn't, proved at the mock interview session (only positive feedback) and 4 of the interviews had been for the same job - which I got.

The silly thing is that one travel card to London to cover train & tube/bus for me costs around £25 if I have to travel before 9am, and most permanent jobs these days want at least two often more interviews, with up to a dozen people called in for the first round. Even some contract roles want 2-3 interviews these days. So to assume someone is crap just because they don't get a job in half a dozen interviews these days is a bit unreasonable. But the poor JCP staff aren't allowed to show any discretion any more, they need to find any excuse they can to cut costs, not pay expenses, or to sanction people or it's their own jobs on the line.

crashbangboom Thu 27-Mar-14 20:55:13

The employment service didn't support strike action to remove screens from social security offices. Then ss offices closed and job centres started to not have somewhere to send people who were difficult, banned from office plus had influx of claimants who got nowhere on phone. Little sympathy.

NurseyWursey Thu 27-Mar-14 20:55:51

beertricks it's not JSA I'll be receiving it's ESA

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Catmint Thu 27-Mar-14 21:06:15

I used to work in a job centre. Most of us there had people's best interests at the heart of what we did.

I understand that the policies and regime have changed significantly. My DP is currently signing on, having been made redundant.

One woman was foul to him, a complete bully. Ll the others have ranged from ok to lovely. We complained about the bully, the person I spoke to ( DP was in tears) knew who I was talking about before I said her name.

I asked how the job centre monitor for consistency between signing on staff. I was told they don't. To me ( I work in quality control) this is astonishingly poor practice.

NurseyWursey Thu 27-Mar-14 21:06:21

They said if it all goes through correctly, I should receive a payment next month - mid month

Apparently resigning doesn't have any baring on ESA, just JSA. Had to show doctors notes etc though

NurseyWursey Thu 27-Mar-14 21:06:59

sorry that was to BeerTricks

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NurseyWursey Thu 27-Mar-14 21:09:59

Thankyou BeerTricks, I'm lucky to have DP who can help me pick up the pieces. I (stupidly) got a loan 2 months ago before I got ill and I'm regretting it now! I'm scared of ringing the bank though blush

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

usualsuspectt Thu 27-Mar-14 21:16:53

Do you have to do an Work assessment to get ESA?

NurseyWursey Thu 27-Mar-14 21:16:59

He may well have, although no matter how bad I got I don't think I've got it in me to be so abusive, and to demand money without at least trying to follow the rules.

I felt like saying to him, listen I was your age once (he was about 19) if you stop the abuse, calm down and just LISTEN they can help.

I will do, I need a kick up the jacksy methinks

NurseyWursey Thu 27-Mar-14 21:23:22

No usual I didn't know I could claim ESA I originally went in for JSA

But when I told the woman what had gone on she explained that ESA would be more suitable if I wasn't ready to work, so she went through it with me

Thats why I thought she was so lovely because she didn't really have to do that

usualsuspectt Thu 27-Mar-14 21:26:31

Yes she did, it's what she gets paid for.

NurseyWursey Thu 27-Mar-14 21:29:00

Well she advised me well then, because the fella I spoke to on the phone didn't. So I'm glad either way

happyyonisleepyyoni Thu 27-Mar-14 21:44:47

Signing on as a professional, or if you need to pay for childcare and travel to work, is a joke.

DH had to sign on a few years ago when made redundant. It took him 6 months to find another job as he works in a niche area. He was being interviewed for £50k+ roles and in between the "advisors" (don't make me laugh) were trying to get him to take min wage admin jobs which would not have covered the costs of travel to work and childcare. Their target is to get you off benefits as soon as possible even if that means you are wasting your state funded education in a manual job rather than it taking a few months longer to secure a highly paid job where you are paying back far more in taxation. We also lost money as we relocated to an area where there is more employment in his field to help him find work, and although he notified them in advance, they kept losing his details and he had to restart a claim at least twice.

I also had to sign on while waiting for a job to start. (The delay was actually because childcare wasn't available until a certain date. )I went through a charade of pretending to apply for jobs or I couldn't have afforded to eat in the meantime.

happyyonisleepyyoni Thu 27-Mar-14 21:47:21 yes I feel sorry for the people who work in Job centres as the rules they have to follow are bullshit. I strongly suspect no one would work there if they had any chance of a job elsewhere, ironically.

ColdFeetWarmHeart Thu 27-Mar-14 22:20:15

I have personally had one bad experience in terms of staff at my local jobcentre. He was a bit of a jobsworth and more concerned that I hadn't updated my universal jobsmatch account on a daily basis than the fact I had actually been to 2 interviews in that fortnight. My regular adviser at the time was really nice, and used her common sense. She knew I had a young child, and although I was trying my best to look for work, it was not always possible to log on to website every single day of every single week. She changed my agreement to state that I had to actively search for work at least 5 times a week. She also changed my agreement so that I only had to look for work 60mins away, starting no earlier than 9am, as she knew I had to rely on childcare provided by a childminder/nursery. However, she did this knowing how hard I was looking for work, and I suspect that the DWP will make small allowances in cases of childcare/caring for family members etc. She did use her common sense, and never gave me a job that I HAD to apply for if it had a start time of 7am.
So yes, she used her common sense and didn't make me waste my time applying for jobs that I could never take etc. But at the same time, I was never given any help to find work. I basically went in once a fortnight, they looked at my log of what I had done, and then booked me my next appointment.
My autistic brother has been claiming JSA since he left college. He really wants to work, and is starting to get quite depressed about not finding anything. They keep putting him on group courses for CV writing and interview skills, the same courses again and again. He is given no advice specifically for his needs, and told to apply for jobs that he just won't be able to do!

I think the main problem is with the rules and regulations within the DWP. It needs to be structured better. The staff need to be trained and supported better. And vulnerable claimants must ALWAYS be seen by suitably trained staff. Mr brother was allocated to a disability adviser for just 6 months. He now sees a different person every week, and I don't think they have any idea of his autism.
Also, someone with an ounce of common sense needs to come in and redesign all their bloody forms!!!

MrsDeVere Thu 27-Mar-14 22:27:12

I hated going to the job centre.

The woman who I saw said 'have you ever worked?' I was so stunned it took me a while to reply and I didn't say 'yes love, I helped pay for your birth, child benefit and education but don't let that stop you patronising me'

It was pointless, hopeless and ridiculous.

No one deserves abuse but Job Centres, like hospitals, by their nature are full of vulnerable and upset people.

Some people are just shits and they can be on either side of the desk.

But being on ESA for depression you will probably find that out sooner rather than later.

I got a few months of incapacity benefit before it was stopped. I mean, my daughter had only died so it was about time I pulled myself together and got back to work hey?

AnneEyhtMeyer Thu 27-Mar-14 22:55:15

Oh you are right, MrsD, as always.

Pipbin Thu 27-Mar-14 22:56:35

Although I'm not excusing this arse for one second I do kind of see his point about morning appointments being early. When I was signing on I was living on my own with little reason to get up. I found it very hard to sleep and then to get up again. I was thankful that my sign on appointment was 3 pm. Also, completely coincidentally, my advisor was my landlord!

NurseyWursey Thu 27-Mar-14 22:59:53

Ah MrsDevere I shall prepare myself for that then. Perhaps I'll use your reply if anyone is horrible to me.

Pipbin I don't really see a point at all confused Surely the reason to get up is to continue getting your money.. like you would in a job? It's hard but something that needs to be done?

Pipbin Thu 27-Mar-14 23:38:56

Oh I agree Nursey all I'm saying is that I can see how someone would get into that situation. However he was a twat.

thecook Thu 27-Mar-14 23:53:37

You feel sorry for jobcentre staff? The majority are scum.

NurseyWursey Fri 28-Mar-14 00:03:54

I speak as I find. I felt sorry for the ones today.

NurseyWursey Fri 28-Mar-14 00:04:46

And saying the majority are scum is just as bad as saying all benefits claimers are scum - both statements inherently wrong IMO.

ComposHat Fri 28-Mar-14 05:00:12

The job centre has some nasty, vindictive, up-their-own-arse snooty bastards working for them. But they also have some genuinely nice people there, who have constructive ideas, who understand that people's situations are not black and white and who have the patience of saints.

I agree, there appears to be no middle ground, either lovely and incredibly helpful or patronising. petty minded little Hitlers drunk on the pathetic level of power they hold. Sadly the latter are far more prevalent than the former.

Whilst I'd never condone giving anyone else a gobful of abuse at work, in some cases I've heard and seen, the way some of the staff speak to people it is hardly surprising that some people loose their rag with them.

Allergictoironing Fri 28-Mar-14 08:16:46

Pipbin if you don't get up at a reasonable time, you may well miss the call from the potential employer or an agency asking you to attend an interview. Answering your mobile as it drags you out of your slumber isn't the best way to make a good impression. Plus as I said earlier up the thread, I may still get up at 7:30am every week day while I'm out of work partly for this very reason, but as soon as I do get another job chances are I'll be getting up at least an hour earlier if not more. If you've been sleeping in until 10am every day for however many months then when you DO need to get up at 6 or 7am your performance at work will be pretty crap in the mornings until your sleep patterns get used to it again - at the most crucial time to be making a good impression.

One reason for a 9am appointment is that the JCP staff do have the right to work normal office hours. If all the claimants had later appointments, then the JCP staff would have to finish later every day to get everything done. The other reason of course is to "encourage" claimants to take attendance & job-seeking seriously, as Nursey says treat it like a job.

MrsDeVere Fri 28-Mar-14 08:44:21

9am appointments are absolutely reasonable if they are not dished out with no regard to personal circumstances.

I have always been working parent so have always had to take the children to school before work.

Being unemployed wouldn't change those circumstances.
Some people are on medication that makes early rising very difficult and the same for some people with chronic health conditions.

Also travel is much more expensive before 9.30-10 in many areas so that should be taken into account.

Unemployed people should not have to be better than employed people yet that is what it feels like as soon as you are in receipt of any sort of benefits.

Get up at 8 to go to work? That is fine.
Unemployed? You lazy bastards should be getting up at 6! Why?
Not sure, but you just should thats why....

OnlyTheWelshCanCwtch Fri 28-Mar-14 08:45:54

Job Centre staff are human, like anyone else
They are under immense pressure constantly to deliver
Like all Government Departments, everything these days seems to be stat based

I'm not frontline in DWP any more, but 21 years into working for them, things aren't getting better, they want more and more out of us for less and less
I would hate to work in the actual JCP, the attitude of a lot of jobseekers is disgusting.....its not always the staff, they are only following the rules that have been laid down by the Government.

ImpOfDarkness Fri 28-Mar-14 09:15:03

Oh and now they want to cut our (3 mile away buses) to one every two hours, meaning short appointments in town can quite easily waste most of the day

In my rural area we have one bus a week, which goes nowhere near the job centre twelve miles away. If you can't afford a car you can't sign on.

Allergictoironing Fri 28-Mar-14 09:32:59

Unemployed people should not have to be better than employed people yet that is what it feels like as soon as you are in receipt of any sort of benefits.

Get up at 8 to go to work? That is fine.
Unemployed? You lazy bastards should be getting up at 6! Why?
Not sure, but you just should thats why....

I don't see any conditions put on the job seekers that are over and above what I would expect to have to do if I was working.

9am appointment? Well the majority of jobs start at that sort of time of day or earlier, so it seems perfectly reasonable to me attending the JCP at that time. the JCP staff have to be there comfortably earlier than that to get logged in & settled ready to start seeing people. Never heard of any JCP event that's run later than about 5:30pm, which is a normal finishing time for many jobs.

Called in at a couple of days notice to attend some event at the Job centre? Well I've had calls at 5pm inviting me to an interview at 9am the next morning, and half or 1 working day notice of interviews is common.

Expected to make an effort every day to at least have a look at what's out there? Well if you're working you're expected to put in your contracted hours every day too.

At least I can turn up at the job centre in jeans and comfortable shoes, which there's no chance of if working.

Now I won't say I agree with many aspects of the system; things like the processes are set up with the assumption that all claimants are in blue collar type jobs, or that all claimants have to use "lowest common denominator" type methods even if their own way is superior. Examples of this are having to record all job seeking activities on that abortive bastard on line application they call Universal Jobmatch rather than the informative well organised spreadsheet I used to use & take in with me, or the assumption that jobs in my field will be advertised in LOCAL newspapers so I need to scan those every week.

But don't blame the staff in the front line. This is what they have to do, a large majority do it with tact and understanding and most of the rest just going through the motions as they have been worn down by their shitty job.

MrsDeVere Fri 28-Mar-14 11:31:24

If you are going to compare working conditions with JSA conditions surely you have to extend the metaphor Allergic?

You are concentrating only on the negatives of having a job (if you think getting up early is a negative).

You neglect to mention the pay, status, security and well being attached to being in employment.

Lots of jobs DO start at 9am but lots of people are able to negotiate flexitime to enable them to start a bit later to enable them to drop kids off etc.

There is no such flexibility in the JC. If you are five mins late you will be sanctioned.

That wouldn't happen at work, not unless you work in an 1890's cotton mill and I am assuming that you don't.

I don't think you understand the 'expected to have a look' aspect of the conditions of JSA.
When I was on contributions based JSA for a brief period after my child died I was expected to apply for ten jobs a week.

Ten jobs that I was qualified for, that were part time and within travelling distance.

I was lucky if I could find ONE and I have experience in a fair few areas.

I was treated poorly by some staff and others were ineffectual even thought they were kind. Comments like 'but you can't be expected to work!' were sympathetic but, when not backed up with any sort of practical advice, useless.

JCP staff are being put at risk by the hideously draconian system that sections of the general public have been baying for.

They have it now. Perhaps they should be seconded into JCP jobs for a few weeks to experience what the system does to people?

Melonbreath Fri 28-Mar-14 11:42:02

I signed on after university. The staff were all really nice and really positive. I did get very down that the only jobs available to apply for were all jobs I could have got without my degree. I did get free courses, which I did to show I was willing, cv help which was invaluable and i did feel sorry for the staff who were trying their best with people who clearly weren't bothered about getting a job.
My ds applied after university to a different job centre and they were vile to her. They were rude, dismissive, told her her degree was a posh waste of time.
I think it depends on the place

Allergictoironing Fri 28-Mar-14 11:48:12

MrsDeVere I'm not directly comparing the conditions, but more commenting on the specific lines I quoted. One day a week of getting up at a half reasonable time isn't that onerous a thing to do, and no I don't think getting up early is a bad deal - as I've posted earlier I do get up in plenty of time for an earlier than 9am appointment every single weekday.

I'm sorry you were treated so badly by your local JCP. Mine haven't set any such draconian measures on me, and they do tend to use what little judgement they are allowed when defining the requirements of each job seeker e.g. they have removed the "must look in local newspapers" element from mine because they know jobs in my field just aren't advertised in places like that. How long that lasts I don't know.

I do know that many of the conditions are set by central policy, and others by regional policy, and the front line staff have no option. This thread was initiated by someone feeling sorry for the front line staff, not as a general central policy bashing forum which is what it seems to be turning into?

Curlyweasel Fri 28-Mar-14 14:24:22

No YANBU. There should be a zero tolerance policy in place (which should work both ways).

BUT, the whole issue needs a complete rethink IMHO. The DWP know who the 3rd/4th generation unemployed/never want to be employed claimants are. Why not separate them from job seekers (i.e. those seeking a job) and address their needs differently? Why try to force JCP staff to force them into work, work related activity, CV writing (what would they put on there?) when they're are fundamentally unemployable to begin with? What's the point? They need a different approach. I'm not saying let them get away with it, but generational worklessness/low education etc etc cannot and should not be addressed in the same way as say redundancy.

There's no room for flexibility or creativity in the current system, so everyone's penalised for minor transgressions regardless of personal situations.

I honestly could scream with frustration about the unworkable policies sometimes. 90 minute travel expectation. Expectation to take a factory job if offered (the main work in our town). So, where do I put DCs at 4.30am in the morning to start a 6am shift if I've no one to look after them? Okay - I'll do the later shift (2-10pm) because there's that fantastic nursery that's open to 11.30pm for when I finish and travel back .... oh, hang on...

AND, it's only going to get worse when Universal Credit comes in - mark my words (actually, I don't believe it will ever come in as IDS is a complete and utter fuckwad and this will be his downfall if there's one tiny teeny bit of justice in this world).

MrsDeVere Fri 28-Mar-14 14:25:40

You are missing my point.
My post said that getting up at 9am is perfectly reasonable for most people.

What about those who cannot get to the JC at that time?

What are they supposed to do?

When you take a job you take it after ensuring you can meet the terms and conditions of your employment. I wouldn't take a job that required me to start work at 7am because I couldn't do it.

But if you are given a computer generated appointment at the JC what are you supposed to do if you cannot make it? If you don't make it you get sanctioned.

Also..threads can and do evolve. Its allowed on MN. Its Netmums that has a no deviation from the OP rule.

Darkesteyes Fri 28-Mar-14 14:38:16

When i was signing on in the late 90s early 2000s i was on workfare some of the time which was during the day and then ended up with a paid NIGHT job in a sex chatline office Not all jobs are 9am to 5 pm and there is absolutely no consideration for those who work nights In fact when the workfare providers called on my boss during the day (they were pissed off at losing their workfarer and in those days they got paid if you were on a placement) my then new boss told them to sod off and reiterated to them AGAIN that i was working nights.

Darkesteyes Fri 28-Mar-14 14:40:44

The DWP know who the 3rd/4th generation unemployed/never want to be employed claimants are.

Do they Curlyweasel They had better inform the Joseph Rowntree Foundation then because they couldnt find anyone that fits this description.

Curlyweasel Fri 28-Mar-14 14:54:34

It's the people who believe the vile rhetoric being bandied around that upset me more I think - not the more vulnerable in our society. Throws hands up in despair

CalamitouslyWrong Fri 28-Mar-14 14:56:16

One problem with 9am appointments is that people who are unemployed will not have the childcare sorted that people employment do. If you have to start work at 9am, you arrange to send your children to breakfast club at school (or something else). If you don't have a job, you will be dropping them off at school yourself (and picking them up at home time).

It's unreasonable to expect someone to pay for breakfast club (out of the meagre amount of JSA they get) so they can make a 9am appointment at the job centre. Not everyone has free childcare available to them. Any halfway decent system will have flexibility in place to recognise the realities of people's lives. Some people might get a decent, empathetic advisor but it's far from universal.

You can't simply expect unemployed people to organise their lives as if they were employed.

meddie Fri 28-Mar-14 15:24:23

Local job centre were appallingly rude and nasty with both my children following Uni. Neither of them are workshy and both are polite and well mannered. They had my daughter in tears and neither were they any really help in suggesting job options. They were insisting DD had a bog standard CV when I have taught her for years to tailor CV's to Job specs. They were utterly useless.
I know they have rude clients and it must be frustrating, but there is no need to treat everyone who goes there like shit on their shoe.
DD was even sanctioned because she missed her morning appointment as we had just left A&E where she was having her leg set in plaster. We phoned soon as we could but still money was stopped.
It didnt punish her it punished me as I had to help her financially while she was sanctioned.

Abra1d Fri 28-Mar-14 19:28:36

My husband used to work for an organisation that worked alongside the Job Centres and he told me some shocking stories about intimidation and places where staff almost had to be escorted to the bus stops because they were scared of being attacked.

MrsDeVere Fri 28-Mar-14 20:56:25

I worked in A&E for years.
I got threatened with rape, death and had a gun pointed at me.

But I don't think all sick people are scum.

I realise that is not what you are saying but it is the undercurrent of this and many other threads.

On out of work benefits = undeserving trash.

Abra1d Fri 28-Mar-14 21:05:38

Ironically my husband was then himself made redundant and was for 2.5 years. During that period I obviously did not regard him as scum.

Abra1d Fri 28-Mar-14 21:16:35

All the nasty members of staff get to deal with the scroungers.

Sounds fair.

We didn't even bother applying for JSA, just ran down our savings and made the redundancy last. We were lucky, I know, that we could do this. But having sat in on so many interviews, my husband knew what would happen if he tried to claim. The jobs they'd want him to apply for and the courses they'd want him to attend.

MoreBeta Fri 28-Mar-14 21:50:02

DW had to sign on recently. Its a long complicated story but anyway she is very highly qualified and has a job history that reflects that.

The man at the Job Centre confessed he had never met anyone like her and was terribly deferential and helpful.

While she was there she saw people who obviously and genuinely in need of help and treated very dismissively.

I suspect staff in Job Centres get hardened to the job like police officers and make snap judgements about their clients.

MoreBeta Fri 28-Mar-14 21:52:28

By the way DW was told she had to apply for jobs up to 1 hour and 15 minutes commute away. Just interested as a few people have said 90 minutes.

What is the rule?

Goblinchild Fri 28-Mar-14 21:55:53

Apparently that sort of stupidity kicks in after 26 weeks on JSA.
So you pay a fortune to travel to a job that doesn't pay enough to cover your expenses.

MoreBeta Fri 28-Mar-14 21:58:19

They said DW would not get any benefits at all after 26 weeks as they would means test her assets.

Goblinchild Fri 28-Mar-14 22:10:09

Probably, or they'll make her go on some helpful courses and cut her benefits unless she hoop dances for them.
I don't know much about the mechanics, my DD is an adult and I'm trying to stay out of the paperwork. I'm just there with the hot chocolate and comfort when she's survived another mauling.

MrsDeVere Fri 28-Mar-14 22:12:11

You get 6 months on contribution based JSA. Your DW would have been on that type of JSA.

I must admit it felt pretty rough in my 40s having worked since I was 17 to only be entitled to 6 mths of JSA.

Not that I wanted to stay on it for long but we were on a low income as OH can only work part time so its not like we could just do without the money.

MoreBeta Fri 28-Mar-14 22:15:47

Goblin - she could teach on the unhelpful courses as she is a university lecturer. Do you think they would let her volunteer or would they cut her benefit? grin

MrsDeVere Fri 28-Mar-14 22:16:19

I wasn't offered a single course or any training at all.
Its a myth that you get loads of support and sent on all kinds of training.

I got no help at all really. I had to turn up, get patronised and go away again.

Luckily for me it was before these crazy sanctions came in because there was a period of really awful weather and although I live in a densely populated area with loads of transport it was impossible to get to the JC.
No buses were running and there was that horrible snow covered ice on all the roads and pavements that didn't get shifted for a week.
Not being able to walk, drive or get transport to the JC wouldn't be a good enough excuse now.

Ledare Fri 28-Mar-14 22:17:40

MrsDeVere flowers

Goblinchild Fri 28-Mar-14 22:27:01

Hopefully she will be less easily intimidated than the usual client, and offer to work for pay, MoreBeta.

MoreBeta Fri 28-Mar-14 22:35:29

It will be interesting to see how it evolves.

One piece of rubbish already is she went to sign on and was sent away to do it online by the first person she met. Went away, tried to do it online, the website told her to go back to Job Centre as she was not eligible to sign online. Went back and met the 'deferential man' who confirmed she could only sign in person.

Luckily it is only 15 minutes walk but imagine a single parent having to use public transport an 30 minutes each way with a small child - that is 4 hours of hassle costing money they can ill afford. No one gets compensated for the errors like that.

ProtegeMoi Sat 29-Mar-14 20:08:35

I am trying to help a friend through the JSA process at the moment and am gobsmacked. Her husband has walked out on her and their two children leaving her with nothing. Her English is very limited yet they insisted on a phone application, which I had to do.

Then they refused to provide a translator so I had to attend her first appointment with her to do so. They told her she has to do 30 things a week looking for work and all must be added onto her website thing they make you register on.

The next appointment she was told off as the English is poor when she's adding her notes on the website and they can't always understand it, when she explained she struggles with written English their suggestion was to have a friend do it, so now I update her website with the details she gives me.

Her third appointment I could not make as I was working, they could not change it, they could not provide a translator. She reluctantly convinced her ex to come along and translate for her. Result was they stopped her money as they must be back together.

She has asked for English classes they have said no but instead sent her on a cv course, not that she could understand a word said. Now her task is to write a cv, again they suggest to have a friend do it.

It's becoming a full time job for me because they have no understanding of how to actually help people.

ProtegeMoi Sat 29-Mar-14 20:13:05

Oh and to those curious about the distance thing. She has been told she has to apply for jobs up to 90 mins away and for minimum wage, meaning she might as well not bother.

NeedsAsockamnesty Sat 29-Mar-14 21:47:44

Incidentally it's 90 mins by your normal mode of transport

ProfondoRosso Sat 29-Mar-14 21:53:16

When I finished my PhD recently and signed on, I have to say the JCP staff I encountered were very polite and friendly. I was granted 3 months to find a university job before they'd start imposing other conditions. It all felt pretty pointless because I found out, after signing on for 2 weeks, that I wouldn't be getting any JSA as, having been doing my doctorate and teaching for shit pay for 3 years, I hadn't paid enough NI. But I can't fault the JCP staff I dealt with. I still had to sign on to get my NI stamp but thankfully I'm working now.

My DSis, however, was treated like shit by JCP staff (in a different centre). Her coach advised her to take out a Wonga loan to get herself business cards. She was told to go to a job centre on the other side of the city on days when they knew she was doing voluntary work to boost her CV. She was left in tears countless times and eventually complained about her coach and was fortunately assigned a new, much better one.

CalamitouslyWrong Sat 29-Mar-14 21:56:43

Exactly the same thing happened to DH, profondo. The advisor seemed surprised that he didn't want to continue signing on to receive no useful advice on finding an academic job, however.

ProfondoRosso Sat 29-Mar-14 22:09:30

I hope he's doing alright, Calamitously flowers

The academic job market is horrible. I took a job in international student welfare and I love it. I know for a fact that I'd still be unemployed if I had kept looking for a lecturing post.

I do feel sorry for them, because no one should have to face the kind of abuse they do at times.

But, at the same time - they have a job! They make it sound so easy to find one but in reality it's really not and SOME of them don't seem to realise this.

Some are lovely though - the lady who saw me for a year or so when I first signed on was fab.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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..

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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

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