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To think if you can volunteer you can work?

(82 Posts)
BoyMeetsWorld Fri 19-Jul-13 22:35:59

Now I may get flamed for this, not sure, but I'm not saying it as a personal dig against ALL people on benefits - obv every persons' situation is different.

But my DM is on a full wack of benefits for disability. Her disability is based on being scared of public situations (lots of people) & that she can't handle stress. So she doesn't work & she gets circa £28k per year.

Recently DM relocated closer to us because we are seriously struggling with childcare costs with baby 2 on the way (who isn't!) obv that's our problem, not hers, and we were exceptionally grateful for any childcare help - but as she literally does NOTHING else with her life (gets up at 10am most days, goes back to bed 3pm, plays on the computer all day) it didn't seem too unreasonable.

Fast forward few months & she was claiming she didn't want to get up in mornings to do any school runs. Fair enough though annoying - again, not her problem. Then she announced the stress of doing ANY childcare for us had given her a nervous breakdown. Cue days of slurred speech, acting oddly, lots of guilt tripping. We found a fulltime childminder - all pressure removed. 95% of our salary gone on house & childcare but, again, that's the same for hundreds of couples.

Found out today that she is volunteering 2 days per week at a very busy local animal sanctuary / tourist attraction. A)how can she claim benefits as cant be around people, then work somewhere with hundreds of tourists per day? B)how can she claim benefits for being unable to work as it causes too much stress, but is fine to spend 2 days volunteering? (she has no plans to ever work again btw)? So she lives 5 mins away from us but can't help us with any childcare yet is happy to help the animals.

Whole thing boggles my brain AIBU?

MrsMook Sat 20-Jul-13 14:17:32

My grandmother volunteers at a support centre. She's had her knee replaced in the last year. Being a volunteer, the centre is more flexible about what people can do and when than most employers. At 75 I wouldn't expect her to do a similar paid role- for a start, with the amount of hours she does in that level of role, the pay would be very little. She is also not obliged to do anything extra that she can't cope with that you would be for an employer.

When she was 60 she looked after my brother full time 5 days a week and found it draining. If I did live a convenient distance away, I would have no expectation of her caring for my children as it is more than is reasonable to cope with.

I volunteer- being a Guide leader is compatible with full time caring for two young children. Work isn't at this point in time. I can take my DCs with me, but couldn't to work.

There is a lot of overlap of paid and voluntary work, but there are circumstances where practical reasons mean you can volunteer, but not be able to work.

To say you will do something and then let someone down is unreasonable. (re Childcare)

filee777 Sat 20-Jul-13 14:16:32

Mental health issues are not linear, she could be fine for a few weeks and then need a long break, when you are volunteering this is much easier than when you have been paid and suddenly find yourself with no money and no support while having a break down.

Letitsnow9 Sat 20-Jul-13 13:59:59

Yabu, maybe the animals help keep her calm and maybe volunteering will lead to a job. It's better she volunteers doing what she can and when she can than sitting around at home. She's 'giving back'

BoyMeetsWorld Sat 20-Jul-13 13:58:43

If she were working fulltime how would she possibly be able to help out? She'd be in the same situation time wise as us! And 'expectation' doesn't necessarily come into it as I've explained. It's her that's repeatedly messed us about by wanting to then not wanting to help with it - not to mention all the other people she's messed about along the way.

The childcare is secondary to the issue that I can't understand why she's not capable to be around people or cope with any kind of job (even proof reading from home or doing a quiet back office role) but can spend days in quite a physical role packed with tourists. And, again, that's not to say all people who cannot work must automatically not be able to volunteer either. But in this instance I just don't get it.

gnittinggnome Sat 20-Jul-13 13:39:18

So essentially you wanted to have a rant that your mother won't help you with the childcare, and have wrapped it up in a host of other issues that also irritate you about your mother.

Other posters have said it far more eloquently than me, but I do think YABU.

Btw, if she were working full time, would you still expect her to help you out with childcare?

hermioneweasley Sat 20-Jul-13 13:35:39

From what you have said she sounds lazy rather than ill, and therefore YANBU

Nottalotta Sat 20-Jul-13 13:32:04

I don't think yabu - its more the specific circumstances of the volunteer role that's the issue isn't it?

BoyMeetsWorld Sat 20-Jul-13 13:01:31

Fair point Lollipop - I should have made the thread title more specific to my DM so it didn't appear to imply I meant everybody

LollipopViolet Sat 20-Jul-13 12:59:43

I volunteer as I'm looking for work and need admin experience to apply for admin jobs (which is what I'd like to do). You can volunteer while on JSA, but there are restrictions to hours etc. My voluntary work stops me getting cabin fever as it gets me out of the house.

I'm also visually impaired so limited in terms of jobs, as I can't drive and so can't travel. Warehouse work (which there's lots of in my area) is also out due to not having full peripheral vision. It's rubbish, quite honestly.

I also volunteer at an ice hockey club at weekends - they give me a good sport to watch, I take tickets on the door each game smile But that's more a hobby to be fair.

As for the OP's situation, I think YABU, but more for the thread title than the content.

Emilythornesbff Sat 20-Jul-13 12:12:03

I wouldn't expect anyone to look after their grandchildren to the detriment of their own working or social life. Or to be always taking care of the little ones while the parents kick back. I think ft childcare is a bit much for most grandparents tbh. It's bloody hard work.
but I think I'd be a bit hurt if my DM would rather take care of a bunch of animals than her own grandchildren.

But I think you need to find a way to feel at peace with this or it's going to eat you up.

Mia4 Sat 20-Jul-13 10:21:41

I can understand why you'd be confused if she has to interact with the public at the tourist attraction in regards to feeling stressed by person contact but maybe she doesn't even talk to them? As others have mentioned, volunteering can be much less stressful and animals themselves are a well know de-stresser. In fact if she likes cats, having her own cat might help your mother. They certainly helped my anxiety and stress.

YANBU to want more support, most people would love it if possible, but YABU to expect it and be annoyed with your mum. She sounds like she's going through a lot and you sound very focused on yourself and how stress if affecting you rather then accepting that she's having problems and accomadating her.

BoyMeetsWorld Sat 20-Jul-13 07:37:33

Thank you for responses.

I didn't really want to go into depth details about our personal situation / DMs but possibly without the background, the post would come across in a different light. Let's just say i'm 90% certain my DM does not have many of the issues she is claiming for - certainly not issues with being around people in public. She is very good at putting certain things on in certain situations & various health professionals have agreed. However - I appreciate that without giving any further detail on this (which I'm not) people can see it as just an attack on a poor person with MH issues.

I would like to say a massive well done to Poodle and others similar - I did try to say at the start, this is certainly NOT an attack on those who want to work, are trying to get back into work or would love to but really can't because their issues are too bad. My DM has barely worked a day in her life, through a mix of selective relationships with people who would fully support her & now the benefits. This in itself is also one thing, but she has no wish at all to do so, now or ever, and is actually scornful of people who do work so her volunteering is not a stepping stone or rehabilitation, though I accept it could be therapeutic.

Waffley - you made perhaps the most pertinent point, that just because you don't understand someone's condition doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Excellent point and one I constantly try to remind myself with her, and remind other people who get equally frustrated with her. I have always tried to justify things she does by her conditions but over the past few years have come to the same conclusion as my DH, grandparents & others that a lot of it is fabricated. Which, admittedly, is possibly a MH condition in itself.

Re: the childcare. When I repeatedly said we realise she had no obligation to do childcare for us & it's our problem, I actually wasn't just saying that for effect. We've always known it & at the point we decided to have Baby 2 - which is a complicated situation in itself - we did the maths, worked out childcare would take most of our salary & decided we were ok with that if needs must. We had started arranging childcare, then DM began asking if she could do it as she had nothing else to do. We had serious doubts - due to the MH issues history - but as we also have come to believe she's not as unstable as she claims, we considered it. Obviously the huge cost saving was very tempting too, I won't deny that. We said no to begin with as we didn't feel we could rely on her, but for about four months she continually asked and had tantrums if we said no. So we went through an odd cycle of looking for childcare, every time we found someone she begged us to let her do it instead (in varying combinations of amounts), so we'd cancel. She kept changing her mind on & off and using it to blackmail us, sometimes saying we were making her ill by saying no, sometimes we were making her ill by saying yes. About 6 months ago, I firmly made the decision not to use her to help, and as she lived so far away that was easy to explain. Then out of the blue, she sold her house to an agency, kicked out her partner of many years & bought a flat 5 mins away from all happened incredibly quickly and with a lot of drama, because she insisted she wanted to look after DS. With her around the corner I felt it would be both unfair (on her) and stupid (for us financially) to not at least give it a try. So we turned down our childcare place. Cue lots of on-off mind changing, again not wanting us to find anybody until finally, with 2 months until my DS started school it came to w crunch as explained & we made the final decision, not her, that even if she changes her mind again she's not doing any.

So the bitterness is more to do with a long boiling sense of being messed about by a parental figure, rather than believing she has an obligation to do our childcare. Added to this the many many lies and dramas and it's exhausting. And yes, when she called me up to merrily tell me about her volunteering I did find the whole thing mind boggling.

But I accept - a) our kids have had a lucky escape and b) however much evidence there is to the contrary, on the 5% chance she could have severe MH issues, perhaps volunteering is all she can manage in life & it's better than her being in bed all day, definitely.

Not sure how people took it as me sneering at volunteers - they are an invaluable part of where I work, never mind other places. As I said - every situation is different.

Messandmayhem Sat 20-Jul-13 07:35:04

The volunteering is besides the point. Maybe she just doesn't want to be your childcare. She has finished having her children, she doesn't have to care for kids, and she is under no obligation to look after yours.

Emilythornesbff Sat 20-Jul-13 06:56:54

Well. Tbh I can see why you find that annoying.
But it seems she has issues.
Just hope it's not hereditary.

lougle Sat 20-Jul-13 06:55:06

Volunteering is not the same as working.

I have a DD with SN. Before she came along I was a nurse. I've lost my registration now. I have to be at my home address at 08.20 and 15.40 each day. No flexibility.

I am a school governor, I help at Dd1's special school, I help at DD2's primary school and I am about to sit on a panel for the Independent admissions appeals service.

I can phone at the last minute and say that I'm not coming in, as I've had to do when DD1 broke her hand, then 4 days after her cast came off, broke her ankle. I can say 'can't be in until 10.45 today...'. I couldn't do that with a job.

Cantdoanymore Sat 20-Jul-13 03:49:51

You show spectacular ignorance of mental health issues, OP.
if you show that to your mum, no wonder she won't childmind for you.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Sat 20-Jul-13 02:48:01

My mum has quite bad anxiety and I changed my working hours to free her from pressure of helping me with childcare.

Ericaequites Sat 20-Jul-13 02:46:30

Just because your mother is not in paid work does not mean she should be expected to supply free child are for you.
People on Mumsnet seem to think their immediate family owes them free child care, or don't think family members are competent to care for their children. Neither is the case.
Have a talk with your mum, find out what us going on, and see if and when she might be able to help you.
I have Asperger's, depression, and anxiety. It can be hard to get out of bed some days. I have a full time job.

fanjoforthemammaries7850 Sat 20-Jul-13 02:46:17

Have never read such a selfish OP


Bogeyface Sat 20-Jul-13 02:45:49


differentnameforthis Sat 20-Jul-13 02:27:32

So you're happy for her to 'volunteer' if it takes the form of childcare, but not if it involves working with animals instead?

Spot on!

differentnameforthis Sat 20-Jul-13 02:24:14

Taking care of animals is SO different from looking after children! Do you know what role she takes? Perhaps she isn't in with the public, there are many jobs that need doing at animal sanctuaries that don't include being in contact with the public.

People volunteer for various reasons, op. I am sorry to say that your post just makes you sound bitter that you have to pay out money (like the rest of us) for childcare. You can't expect your DM to carry you!

ebwy Sat 20-Jul-13 01:34:35

I can't work due to agoraphobia. I did manage to volunteer for several years, 2 afternoons per week, but I could go for a break when I needed to for as long as I needed and as frequently as I needed, could call in at the last min to say that I couldn't get in at all that day, could go home if I needed ... None of which I could reasonably expect an employer to tolerate.

Now I'm in a different area, and am again having to start persuading myself out at all, and then only in company with someone I trust.

WafflyVersatile Sat 20-Jul-13 00:52:15

A friend of mine had a breakdown about a year ago. She had to stop work. She rarely leaves the house. When she does she is accompanied by her husband or parents. There is the odd occasion where she really really wants to come to an event. Sometimes she has managed even though she gets very worked up about it and sometimes she just can't face it. On the rate occasion she does go further than 10 minutes walk from her house she is terrified she will see someone from work because she worries that being seen outside will make them come to the conclusion that she's bullshitting.

Being able to go out once every couple of months is not the same as being able to keep a highly stressful and physical job.

Just because you cannot understand someone's condition does not mean it is not real.

BiscuitDunker Sat 20-Jul-13 00:02:12

YABU. If you're that bothered by her voluteering and think that she's "fleecing the benefits system" then report her and let them decide if she would be able to cope with having a proper job or if its ok for her to do a couple of days volunteering with animals!

You sound like you're more pissed off about having to pay out for childcare because she won't provide you with it for free than anything else tbh. And fwiw,as you must well know,looking after a child is very stressful at times,even more so when it isn't your child so perhaps that's why she's able to work with animals (and that's probably behind the scenes,not with the public/visitors) but can't/won't look after your kid for you....

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