How Your Job Centre Plus Helps With Self-Employment & Voluntary Work

This week at the Job Centre Plus I thought I would try a different tactic with my ‘Work Coach’ where I would act happy and smile through whatever she said. This was something I knew would be difficult but approaching the town on the bus I felt surprisingly good about the idea. I even spent the morning handing out CVs and writing down where I’d applied in a notebook because I couldn’t put them on Universal Jobmatch at the time. During this bus journey the guy sitting in front of me was filling out a familiar form for the Job Centre Plus (as mentioned at the start of WHAT CAN THE JOB CENTRE DO FOR YOU), I considered telling him it was a waste of time but decided there were enough weirdos on buses already.


Sitting down reading the poster about the customer charter I chuckled to myself as I thought about how little it really meant to them. I was actually called over on time this week and my ‘Work Coach’ didn’t even bother to ask how I was, I assume my flippant answers thus far have made their point. In line with my changed approach I slammed down the notebook cheerfully informing her of what I had been doing during the morning which as far as I could tell she ignored (in retrospect I should have pointed out then how I had not had lunch due to these activities). I also informed her of my new E-mail account which was deemed acceptable (it’s based on my name now).


I was told that my entries on Universal Jobmatch were not of sufficient detail although when pressed the only thing more she could tell me to put was where I had seen the job role. I was also now grilled as to why I did not have a job from the job agency I was told to register at and told repeatedly I had to accept anything they gave me, failing to do so would result in my benefits being cut. I informed her that I had not in fact been offered anything but I don’t think believed me. She responded by telling me that she would have her colleague send a message to them that I would be visiting and she would call them later to check if I’d visited again, this is a threat I have heard often enough that now sounds meaningless.


Next I was queried as to why I had included details about my continued efforts at being self-employed in my activities, apparently being self-employed is my dream job and a hobby therefore isn’t worthy of their time. According to their website however I am eligible for “New Enterprise Allowance” (anyone else get tired of these grandiose names?) and I just need to talk to my ‘Work Coach’ about it, this is something I intend to do next week but I doubt will get anywhere. I did decide to ask about whether I could apply for voluntary positions (it would look good on CV after all) and was told it was actively encouraged… so long as it was outside of my 35 hours job search time. So basically I’ve just got to work the equivalent of 3 jobs to make this woman happy at the moment.


Upon leaving I was reminded once again to visit the job agency or be penalised, again getting tired of hearing it. So I turned up at the job agency to ask for the man I’ve been seeing, unfortunately he was on lunch break but a woman in the reception overheard and said she recognised my name from seeing my application (not only do I go I’m famous there it seems). I was informed that while they have many jobs they all involve heavy lifting that I’m not capable of so there won’t be anything for a long time potentially. These conversations are becoming rather tedious to repeat and yet the Job Centre Plus still deems it necessary to keeps wasting my time with them.


After all this I just want to get home but I’ve missed the bus so have to wait nearly an entire hour for it, there is only so much time I can spend pretending I enjoy shopping when I don’t even have any money. Eventually I do manage to get a bus back and just to rub it in there’s a guy eating fish and chips there while I still haven’t had lunch yet.

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