About Me

My photo
Cromer, Norfolk, United Kingdom

I'm a former hospital radio/club/mobile DJ, avid record collector and amateur musician (playing guitar, keyboards, recorder, harmonica and percussion.) I've even filled in on bass guitar for a couple of local bands as well (although that was quite a few years ago). Also interested in Motorsports, Wrestling/Mixed Martial Arts and Classic Television and Radio from the 1960s - 1980s.

Why am I on here? Well, I'm just trying to make some sense of life before it's too late...but who cares anyway?

Saturday, 25 May 2013

The Lowest Of Low Blows

I mentioned in a previous post that I haven't had much help (if any) from Ingeus recently on the Work Programme - to be honest they've done virtually nothing (virtually being the operative word here given their recent botched up plan to run a  remote job club via Skype.)  So, after being inspired by other people who have been commenting and blogging about their experiences on the WP, and with just over a month and a half to go before I finish,  here's a brief potted timeline of my time on this scheme...

JULY 2011 - JAN 2012:  Initial meetings with Dave, a decent enough bloke who always did his best to break the ice at the beginning of each meeting - so I couldn't fault him at all on that point.  Allowed me to continue my voluntary work at BTCV.  Couldn't do too much more to help me with the jobsearch as (in his words) "the tools were more or less in place" so to speak, but he did come up with some handy resources for finding companies to send speculative letters to. To sum up, a bloke I could (and did) get on well with and who didn't seem judgemental at all.

Fast forward to June 2012 - By the time I ended up back on the regular appointments at Ingeus after getting laid off, the next advisor to deal with me was Lee, who worked on the "rapid response" caseload.  This was another guy I felt I could get on with after the first meeting.  I only saw him for around 10-12 weeks, but he didn't do anything too drastic for my job hunting - just basically checking my job logs every month or so just to see how I was getting on - but I wasn't put under any undue pressure (unlike at A4e where it was more like apply or else.) I didn't get too far with Lee despite the fact that he was happy with what I was doing with my job hunting.

No luck there then.  By October, I had been bounced around a couple more advisors, but didn't deal with them for too long until Marc took me on - and this is where things got interesting to say the least.

His first idea was to remove the entry for Retail Accounting Services from the CV (despite the fact that it was my most recent job) claiming that Derek would not give me a good reference due to the stress-related issues I had while I was with him.  A quick e-mail later and that suggestion was knocked on the head.

He then suggested maybe getting a part-time job (around 20 hours a week) and doing some stuff on the side (like selling stuff on e-bay) for 10 hours and claiming tax credits.  (What? And risk getting done for fraud?)  I didn't hear any more after that, and it was back to business as usual.

Then cane the "Virtual Appointments".  This was basically swapping e-mails, which would have been a good idea as long as it was backed up with regular one - on - one meetings (which didn't happen that often but it was good to see someone try a different approach.)

Things then began to get frustrating for me.

In March 2013, I was told the I wouldn't be getting an appointment until May  (thanks to Marc being on annual leave) but I kept going, making the occasional visit to the Ingeus offices to do some speculative letters and other bits and pieces.  Then there was the farce over the "Virtual Job Club" using Skype (which I've already covered in my last post).

It was a few weeks later that Marc (in an off-the-record conversation) declared "You don't appear to be getting offered admin work because you're too old and the wrong gender.  Most employers these days aren't looking for forty-something males to work in their offices."

WTF is he thinking?  This guy is supposed to be helping me to find work, yet he says that my chances of getting a job are virtually nil no matter how much I do to find work.  I thought A4e were bad enough, but after nearly two years on the Work Programme (which included 5 months in a part-time job) all Ingeus could do is say "sorry mate, we can't help you, you're too old".

It's now getting on for 12 weeks since I had a formal one-on-one appointment with an Ingeus advisor.  Marc has recently been transferred to the King's Lynn branch, so I'm now waiting to find out who my new advisor will be (my sixth one by the way).  In the meantime, I've got an appointment with a client advisor at Cromer Jobcentre on Friday.  And if he asks me about Ingeus, well, I'm going to blow the whistle on them so loudly, they'll probably need earplugs!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Update 04/05/2013

Well, there's been very little of note going on (apart from the usual round of job hunting, visits to local job centre etc) but I'm keeping an eye on a local charity who were looking for admin support volunteers.  I've already met some of the staff involved  (as well as a few of the people they're helping) and they seem like a nice bunch so all I'm doing for the moment is keeping my fingers crossed in case there's any further news.

That looks promising but I can't say the same about the Work Programme, where their big ideas seem to be going belly-up on a regular basis.  The latest one is/was (delete where applicable) what I can only refer to as a "Virtual Job Club".  This would have involved clients linked together via Skype, with an advisor on hand if needed.  Thanks to some "data protection issues"  that scheme has been called off.  (What's the betting someone was bitching to DWP about it and they ended up calling "Foul"?).  And if that wasn't frustrating enough, I've been told that I'm to get yet another advisor.  I wouldn't had minded, but it's the timing of it - I've got 10 weeks to go before my time on the Work Programme ends, so that doesn't leave much time for us to get to know each other and get an action plan together.  I've lost count of the number of advisors I've had in the last 2 years, so it's all the more frustrating when all you end up doing is getting bounced around from one member of staff to another and not getting any serious help with the job searching.

I'll just be glad to get out of there when it's all over....