OK so week 3 and 4 at my wonderful course have been exactly the same as before, 2 and a half hours of searching the internet for jobs. I told the guy taking the course that it wasn’t what I was expecting before I came. He asked me what I expected it to be like, so I told him I expected us to come along and actually learn something, be shown things, have our CVs reviewed, interview skills training, stuff like that. I didn’t expect to have to sit job searching the whole time, only getting help if I asked for it. Don’t think he was to impressed though when I told him the course was just The Work Programme but with a different provider. The other people on the course are lovely though and we bounced some jobs around the place if we found one that we though might be good for somebody else. So I guess a bit of team effort was made on our part. Although today me and one of the other ladies got told of whilst talking to each other cause we kinda used a few curse words.
Well onto the good news from the last 2 weeks. Last Friday I arrived home to find a brown envelope had arrived in the mail. Made myself a coffee and sat down to open it. Well what did I find? Only a letter saying my benefit had been sanctioned for 4 weeks for missing an appointment. The appointment I missed was actually a prearranged telephone call to discuss how the first day of the course had gone with my advisor that.The call had been arranged for 11.40am and unfortunately I was alone in the house and in the toilet when the telephone rang at about that time. I checked the phone and the call was from an unknown number and no message had been left – generally unknown numbers who don’t leave a message are call centres so I never thought anything of it. I stupidly thought if it was them then they would call back. Yes I know I should have contacted them to say I hadn’t received a call from them, but stupidly I didn’t.
Had to contact the local council about my housing benefit as it has now stopped, meaning I will accrue rent arrears. Also had to visit the local Jobcentre to fill in a Hardship form, which I may or may not get. From what I’ve read this is about £40 per week which would just about cover the cost of gas and electric for the house but since I have to pay £10 per week for my extra bedrooms then I’m assuming we will have to go without gas for the time being. The joys of boiling the kettle for hot water! Thank god we have a shower and not a bath.
Went to sign on at the Jobcentre on Thursday and was kept waiting 15 minutes after my time. Didn’t get to see my usual advisor as she was running behind so got taken by somebody else. Well I had a little rant about if I had been late I would have been sent away but as usual it fell upon deaf ears. Was asked how my interview had gone, so told her fine and I would hear by the end of the week hopefully. Then I asked her if she could tell me when I would next receive a payment, so into the computer she went and she then preceded to tell me that I had been suspended for another 12 weeks because I had missed another phone call the week before. God I hate getting phone calls to see how I am doing. I would much rather have an appointment and see somebody face to face than talk to them over a phone. So now my suspension ends on 15 May which in total gives me 16 weeks for missing 2 telephone calls. Believe it or not the calls are to see how I am getting on at the course. I will quite happily accept the first 4 week suspension as it was my own fault for not contacting them when I hadn’t received a call from them, but then they should have left a message. I know 2 wrongs don’t make a right, but it’s so frustrating. The second one I will appeal against as I explained at the Jobcentre why I had missed it, which seems to have been a waste of time, well either that or she maybe thought I was bull shitting her with my reason.
So now I have to wait for the second suspension letter to arrive so I can try and sort things out. I did get the news that I will be getting hardship allowance and it will be £86 every 2 weeks. First payment will be in my bank on 18th March.
I am very grateful though that I have a wonderful family who are more than willing to help me out if needed. I know there are probably many people who have ended up in my situation who have nobody to turn to, so for my family and friends I am very grateful.
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life