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

(214 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!

kawliga Sat 05-Mar-16 15:28:13

I sympathize with both sides of this horrific situation, joblessness.

If you work in a JC how can you not understand that it is humiliating to ask a grown person 'have you done this, have you done that' 'why didn't you walk, why didn't you wake up earlier' etc and sending them on stupid courses, etc. Then you act all surprised when their tempers fly? It is not surprising that people don't like being humiliated. Sorry that your job involves humiliating people, that sucks, but don't be surprised when people respond badly to being humiliated. OP, a bit of empathy for the man you described. This is not the life he dreamed of, reporting to a JC and being asked whether he has disabilities that prevent him from walking hmm He should not be rude, but many people become rude when their life is not working out and they have to face this humiliating situation.

If you go to a JC and are sent on humiliating courses e.g. a literacy course when you have 3 degrees, it doesn't take a whole lot of imagination to appreciate that JC workers are just there to do a not very well paid job. They are following stupid rules that they have to follow for their job. It's nothing personal. They did not make the stupid rules. True with a bit of energy the JC worker could notice that you should be an exception to the stupid rules, but in such a soul-destroying job it's not surprising that they function like jobsworths and just shunt everyone through the system.

I think both sides are caught up in a situation which is not their own fault.

dottypotter Sat 05-Mar-16 13:59:57

They only target people who are claiming because they want to get the numbers down.

Sofiria Sat 05-Mar-16 09:51:05

I wonder how much the statistics are affected by people choosing not to sign on. I have a history of severe depression and anxiety and when I was unemployed I lived off my savings and relied on family because unemployment was already affecting my mental health and I couldn't cope with being treated like shit and made to jump through pointless hoops. I felt worthless enough without others driving home the point. I'm sure there are very nice advisors too, but it's a gamble and you have no idea what yours is going to be like until you're assigned them, as the mixed experiences in this thread show.

I did go to the Jobcentre and ask if I could join in a CV workshop (which I thought might have been useful) but was told they were only for people who were claiming and had been out of work for 6 months. Meanwhile, people with English degrees are forced to attend basic literacy classes. It makes no sense.

GreatFuckability Fri 04-Mar-16 22:57:25

*The jobcentre aren't there to help. They don't print out CVS, they wont do back to work calculations sadly today its all about sanctioning you and trying to make your life hell so you will sign off.

I don't understand how anyone can work there and I have no respect for the advisors who bully and sanction people. They should all walk out and refuse to treat their fellow citizens like that its disgusting.*

perhaps they work there because they too have families to feed and bills to pay and if no one is running the jobcentre who's going to sort out the benefits? i'm no fan of sanctions and i've been on the recieving end of crap advisors, but as a former JCP worker I can tell you i did want to help people. i often worked 12 hour days to help those people. the vast majority of us who worked there wanted to help and do a good job and were hindered by crap policies, ever moving goal posts, reems of paperwork, constantly changing rules, and generally treated like underlings who didn't matter by the people with the power to make decisions. there was a culture in my office where by the decision makers refused to speak to customers. so they would decide benefits were being stopped and it was us poor bastards on the frontline would have to deal with the fallout. I've had people threaten to kill me, to kill my children, to rape me, jump across tables at me, piss all over the floor of my office. and still i did my best by them.
so dont tell me 'the jobcentre' dont care about people.

MinesaBottle Fri 04-Mar-16 22:32:22

Whoa, just noticed the date on this thread (maybe it WAS me who got the wrong date). I'm sure things haven't changed much in the last two years...

MinesaBottle Fri 04-Mar-16 22:30:38

I signed on after being made redundant because I had to, to claim the mortgage insurance. Luckily I had a really lovely advisor who realised she wasn't going to be able to do much for me (I'm in a fairly specialist field) but was v supportive. When I found a job and signed off, she was on leave but she phoned me a few days later to congratulate me, bless her.

There were some twats I saw at the job centre as well (the advisor who sat there slagging off a colleague to another colleague while I was sat at her desk was a highlight, as was the one who changed the date on my appointment card and blamed me for being stupid when it was their mistake and they'd put the wrong date. Honestly, he took it away to 'check' and when he came back I could see the original date had been written over. But I'm not bitter) but my main advisor was really supportive and genuinely nice.

Indantherene Fri 04-Mar-16 12:56:10


dottypotter Fri 04-Mar-16 12:31:19

The jobcentre aren't there to help. They don't print out CVS, they wont do back to work calculations sadly today its all about sanctioning you and trying to make your life hell so you will sign off.

I don't understand how anyone can work there and I have no respect for the advisors who bully and sanction people. They should all walk out and refuse to treat their fellow citizens like that its disgusting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

my ds had some horrible experiences signing on.

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

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