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SALFORD ON THE DOLE
 

Star date: 14th February 2011 

SIGNING ON IN 2011 - A REAL LIFE STORY

`I'm then told to sit on a couch and wait for another advisor who will make an appointment for me to see ANOTHER advisor on another day. I wait. And Wait. And wait. Eventually, a man, who looks like he hates absolutely everybody, shouts my name….'

As the Council prepares to shed jobs and with the unemployment rate set to rise in the city, we present one Salford girl's personal experience at the Job Centre and beyond…

Full story here…


No Future
click image to enlarge

`We're the flowers in the dustbin
 We're the poison in your human machine
 We're the future…your future'
Sex Pistols - God Save the Queen

SALFORD SIGNS ON FOR THE RECESSION RE-MIX

By Mary Burns (name changed to protect the oppressed)


With the current climate (or things going to sh*t to you and me) it's proving difficult to keep your existing job, and even harder to find one. Which is why the Jobcentre is such a haven for us unemployed folk wanting desperately to find work…

…Erm, maybe not. Let me elaborate slightly…

I have been unemployed for a little over a year now. For the first year I decided not to claim jobseekers allowance, and instead, sell my personal collections of music memorabilia, old books and some childhood toys…plus anything I could find in home bargains worth selling on the world's online marketplace. I wasn't taking any tax payers' money. I wasn't taking a benefit away from anyone who needed it more than me. Plus I was making enough to live off without having to leave the house. Nice one.

That, however, didn't last forever and I eventually had no other choice but to enter Salford Baskerville Job Centre Plus. And to be really honest, I wish I hadn't bothered. The dreaded first appointment reared its ugly, judgemental head. In the jobcentre I am taken upstairs and asked to fill in a form. On which there a multiple choice questions such as `How well can you use a computer?'…`How well can you answer a phone?'…`How well can you blink?'. Ok, the last one was a fake but it gives you the idea. I am then sat with an `advisor' who enters my answers into the system, all the while not advising me of anything (How this person has a job and I don't I have no idea?!).

I'm then told to sit on a couch and wait for another advisor who will make an appointment for me to see ANOTHER advisor on another day. I wait. And Wait. And wait. Eventually, a man, who looks like he hates absolutely everybody, shouts my name. I sit at his desk, say `Hello' and get no reply.

`What have you been doing for a year?' he snaps at me. And I explain that instead of living off the government when I didn't have to, I used my initiative and helped myself for a while. He looks confused and says `Why?'

I reply "You have a problem because I WASN'T claiming before I needed to?"…the conversation ends. `This is your appointment, your advisor's name is Fred, don't be late or your claim will be affected, sit over there and another advisor will call your name to give you your signing day.'

So I wait again….get my signing day and finally I'm free and almost instantly light a cig. NB If you don't smoke now, you'll probably will after your first encounter with this place.

Let's skip forward to the more present and more relevant. Around eight weeks ago I tell Fred that I want to start a business, and I want help finding the right funding, and information on the first steps. He tells me to contact Business Link. So I do. I call Business Link. They can't help me, and refer me to a place called Blue Orchid.

Apparently the people at Blue Orchid are going to put me on a seminar which simplifies all the complicated things about starting a business and all I have to do is wait for a phone call. Brilliant. Until I get a call from Blue Orchid saying they can't help me for one reason or another. So, frustrated, I call HM Revenue & Customs and ask for some help. And I am told I will receive a start-up pack with everything I need to know in it. Six weeks on, I am still waiting for that pack.

So, to sum up, in eight weeks being in regular contact with Fred, the Jobcentre and everyone else who claims they can help you, I am STILL on Jobseekers Allowance, and still unemployed. In this space of time I have endured phone calls with dead ends, Fred's uncomfortable flirting, and half of our `back to work session' - in which I spent time with one woman who thought you could do a fast course to be a hairdresser; a woman who has a law degree and therefore was more important than all of us, and a man hosting the session who didn't have a clue what my first steps should be.

I have now found my own way and an accountant who has made the whole process seem loads easier and is actually able to help me.

My point is, if you are unemployed, at risk of losing your job or claiming any benefit at all, don't expect any real help from these guys. Use what you have at your disposal to help yourself, 'cause they really don't give a sh*t.


Graphics by Jamie Reid

sally smith wrote
at 18:28:55 on 15 February 2011
well lucky you darren,just because someone doesnt agree with government etc.. why do people assume they have an ATTITUDE.
 
Mary Burns (Writer) wrote
at 18:28:43 on 15 February 2011
I in now way feel it is my attitude that affects this, obviously there are instances when you get a pleasent enough person, but that is so so rare. Everyone I know that has had to sign on in the past 12 months has been treated the same way as me (minus the advisors flirting, it seems thats just for me) so no, I don't think it's my attitude. I am a nice, polite, well brought up person with a lot of manners and social awareness...so I actually resent that comment about my attitude, although you are after all, entitled to your opinion. I am extremely glad that not everybody has the same experiences as me,and I am glad BL works for some people...it just didn't for me. BUT. My point is still relevent, you are told to contact these people yourselves. No one helps you. And THAT was my point.
 
Heather wrote
at 18:28:09 on 15 February 2011
for any one interested in setting up a business salford hundred venture is a brilliant support and it is free call on 742 4424.
 
Darren wrote
at 11:56:31 on 15 February 2011
I'm sorry - I read this and felt sorry for you - not cause of your situation, but mainly cause of your attitude.... I applaud you if for a moralistic view you choose not to take job seekers allowance for a year, but for me it is madness - you have obviously paid taxes and deserve the unemployment benefit - why sell your possesions? Also, I have been thrtough a similar experience and found Job Centre+ to be very helpful and polite and found all the information on the business link website and my local BL to be helpful...I do wonder if your attitude towards the people you met influenced the response you were receiving?
 
Winston Smith wrote
at 11:56:07 on 15 February 2011
I've been on the receiving end of soul destroying government machinery as both unemployed and CSA victim. I really have suffered at the hands of many of these 'turdvants' as Dave calls them, and believe me, particularly with the CSA I was seriously close to suicide and I hated every single one of the Nazi filth. In hindsight, some of them really are unfeeling pieces of shit, no mistake, but to generalise and say they're all like that doesn't solve anything any more than shouting at nurses because of NHS policy failings. In the end I just decided that being courteous to them, even though they weren't to me, made me a better person than them. Why should I lose my cool for those people? Anyway, after reflection, my conclusion is that having the proletariat at each others' throats (e.g. low level civil servants versus unemployed)is *exactly* what parliament likes. The divide and conquer strategy works every bloody time. And I do mean 'parliament', not 'the government' or 'the conservatives'. Career politicians of all sides now have more in common with each other than they do with the people they're supposed to be representing. They're a class in their own right and they've taken this country into a war the majority did not want and are now going to repeat the 80's recession except on a bigger scale. I therefore suggest reserving the anger and hate (please note I don't condone violence) for the people who have allowed this mess to happen or even created it - the self serving political parties and the hypocrytical expense swindling megacorporation-arsekissing ANTI-DEMOCRATIC PARLIAMENT BASTARDS. ...and the council isn't much better, either :) Viva the Revolution!
 
Brian Francis Kirkham wrote
at 21:11:48 on 14 February 2011
Hi Folks, I Read this article and instantly, my heart sank. I say this during a period of relative stability, having being put through the mill by a housing company involved in 'regenerating' our fair city after being pointed in their direction by Jobcentre Plus. I have an underlying health condition (I wont blind you with science) and was promised 'assistance' - cut to the end - I am now on Incapacity after working the period they called 'probation' - I was promised the earth for it - got through the interview - and then just as i felt my feet were under the table - they let me go...using my condition against me. Thankfully, I'm now keeping active in the voluntary sector - I'm helping out at events with the guys at Manchester's Athletics Arena, and help out for a couple of days a week at Imperial War Museum North. Problem is - last year - the great and the good voted in the coalition - led by the tories - who's only interest lies in keeping the great and the good happy - through low taxes for the rich and selling off the state. Despite having skills i can offer - I don't count. I've channeled the downs into something positive, the guys at BASIC (By the hospital) have been great and i've helped out on creative projects - but if the gang with the funds had pulled their fingers out and give me the support I asked for i'd probably be back working by now. As for Mr C's "Big society" - Someone should have told him it already exists - from Manchester's Games Legacy Programme to Salford's Volunteer Scheme All the Prime Minister wants is something akin to Stalin and the Labour Camps - and may your maker look over you if THAT happens.
 
Mary Burns (Writer of this piece) wrote
at 21:09:50 on 14 February 2011
Jemma, I couldn't agree more!! What they don't understand is that without people like us, claiming this benefit that we're entitled to by the way, they wouldn't HAVE a job!! Idiots, the lot of them.
 
jemma wrote
at 17:10:16 on 14 February 2011
This is so true they think there better than us when all there job is is to find us one - about as useful as a chocolate fireguard !!
 
Dave Young wrote
at 17:10:09 on 14 February 2011
How true this article is .The brain-dead interrogaters who infest the jobless- centres are trained to be ignorant , arrogant , unhelpful,aggressive and authoritarian . It really does take a special kind of turd to do this work .It is bad enough to lose a job , dealing with these uncivil turdvants makes it worse.All part of the joys of living in Toryturd Big Dave's Big Jobless No-hope Society Hell .AND THINGS ARE GOING TO GET MUCH WORSE , UNLESS WE FIGHT BACK.
 
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