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I'd Rather Gauge Out My Eyes With Nails Than Be Stuck Here
Member Name: GramiWay
Advantages: Some geuninely helpful staff
Disadvantages: Not enough support given and weak policies
Unfortunately I found myself at the mercy of Jobcentre Plus back at the start of 2008 due to depression and withdrawal meaning I had no other way to support myself.
What follows is a pointless event every fortnight in which you are expected to follow badly set policies and to pull a job out of thin air.
The staff themselves were often a mixed bag. Whilst some would willingly set aside time to talk to you about your plans and give as much help and assistance as they could there were some that had an air of looking down their nose at you and who would sooner stamp the booklet and have you gone than spend anytime trying to constructively offer any advice, even in times when there were 4 people waiting and they couldn;t use the excuse of 'we're busy' for the quick in-out job.
What I found most frustrating however was being expected to fill in 12 things every two weeks in the booklet they provide or have your benefits stopped, some weeks I had no problem easily filling in more than the required amount but during a slow period where all routes of searching seemed to have stopped it was very difficult.
During my 5 months on JSA I tried relentlessly to take up voluntary work or to embark on small courses though found the policies to be far too strict. It seemed to me almost as if the policies were them to ensure you never managed to get out of the trap.
Someone like me for example still being relatively young and only having GCSES and A Levels to fall back on did not have a lot of the relevant experience required by employers for most of the jobs the centre advertised and undertaking any type of course to try and gain more skills would cause benefits to be stopped if the course exceeded 15 hours. The same was true of voluntary work as well which I also looked into to gain more skills and confidence.
I found that apart from the introductory meeting there was very little support from anybody and you were pretty much left to your own devices until sign on date and you were often looked down upon by various members of staff or spoken to in an unpolite manner. Whilst I accept that they cannot make jobs appear out of nowhere and that this system may work for certain types of people my experience of it was nothing but upsetting and in the end I decided that I would go it alone without their help, even if it meant losing out on money so I enroled on a full time college course for September 2008 and am delivering leaflets alongside my various online money making commitments.
Summary: Worth signing on if you need the income but doesn't really do a lot for your personal prospects