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Letters of an invisible statistic


"Wondering if you're going to look at my booklet properly today"

“Wondering if you’re going to look at my booklet properly today”

I began unemployment if possible, positively. Yet it didn’t take long for me to realise that all I stood for was a means of employment for other disenfranchised citizens. Except the thing is, there are no jobs (apparently I’m one of those excuse-making nags now) so why would my Job centre advisor (the term advisor used loosely) help me to the path of righteousness. My mistake, Western conformed affliction aka employment for the masses?

"Top myself."

“Top myself.”

Now I am in no way condoning a gross misuse of the benefits system of this country, rather, I am merely attempting to highlight the flaws in such an infamous system.
I WANT a job. We all do. God knows why but we do. Because secretly all anyone wants is a safe routine with the occasional access to a hedonistic lifestyle.

"The heroin is treating me well. Bad side-effects but makes me appreciate baked beans a lot more."

“The heroin is treating me well. Bad side-effects but makes me appreciate baked beans a lot more.”

Where is the guidance for young people such as myself living in an ex-mining village where un-employment resentment still lingering in the air and the nearest prospective and progressive city 28 miles away?

1) Why is the example job interview with a Baker? Are all unemployed people bakers? Aren't, say, bankers looking for jobs too? 2) "I saw a job for a prostitute in Middlesbrough on gumtree."

1) Why is the example job interview with a Baker? Are all unemployed people bakers? Aren’t, say, bankers looking for jobs too?
2) “I saw a job for a prostitute in Middlesbrough on gumtree.”

I am having to wait until money is released from my father’s will so that I can afford to move back to London where I can get a job at the snap of my fingers (yet at the same wage as the rest of the country). And who said that sentiment was dead?

Trial shift UNPAID

Trial shift UNPAID

How long do we have to continue living like this? Why does employment sound a mass sigh of relief? Are we not living in a skilled, progressive and popular tourist country?

"Continue to do this pointless bull to get the dole"

“Continue to do this pointless bull to get the dole”

Following an interview with a socially awkward ‘manager’ who had apparently been at this bar for five years, I consulted my Job centre advisor: “This guy couldn’t even maintain eye contact. It was really weird. I asked him what till system they used. He didn’t know. He asked me for a trial twice yet didn’t respond each time I asked for a date and time. Are employed people all psychic?”
Job centre advisor: “He probably thought you would replace his job if you started.”
Me: “Thanks for the tip.”

"So how's your sex life?" Name that film.

“So how’s your sex life?” (I even managed to reference a Tommy Wiseau film unnoticed)

 

A letter to PM David Cameron was inevitable.

Dear David Cameron,

Hello! I do believe we are yet to be formally introduced. My name is Grace Newton and I am a UK citizen living in County Durham.

I am writing today in plea for recognition of a mere existence in your state.

I am (it is with no pride, may I emphasise) in receipt of the UK’s infamous Job seeker’s allowance. A dastardly year bursting at the seams with funerals no less led to this inevitable conclusion in my ‘career’. Whilst arranging a funeral, the job I held in Brixton (who were more than generous with offering time off work in order to, how do I put it? End a life, perhaps?) informed me that they were ‘unable to hold the position’. This left me in London skint, jobless and with rent to pay with a distraught family 200 miles away. Hello dole office!

So let’s get down to brass tax (one of your more preferred nouns one would imagine?) and consider the obvious here. Thousands of blighters receive money (just under £3000 per annum for under-25’s if I’m being vaguely pedantic) for sitting on their arses? Surely this can’t be the case, certainly not under a Conservative government (‘coalition’ if you will, but who’s monitoring Nick Clegg?). Certainly not under a party which has spawned the likes of Enoch Powell, the ‘political leper’ Peter Griffiths and last but certainly not least, (Baroness if you will) Maggie Thatcher (well done on the funeral by the way Dave, splendid affair).
Just as any newly graduated student has most probably felt whilst entering the job market, I began life as a ‘doley’ (pardon my slang- I do of course mean an individual in receipt of the Jobseekers allowance or income support) with only ambition and hope clouding my vision. All British cynicism was forsaken and before me in its place lay a glittering path of sickly sweet optimism and pertinent pride. A pride with an air of patriotism, may I point out, for a country which (though pricey as it is) leaves the doors of education open for all (obviously David, the latter is often disputed).
Did you know that six out of every 10 people residing in inner city London are degree educated?
And that in 2013 we now hold 12 million graduates in the UK?
Of course you did, sorry to ask. As expected, entries into higher education have experienced a huge plummet since tuition fees increased almost threefold, but to be perfectly honest how many of those graduates were getting jobs in their niche fields anyway? I’m wittering aren’t I Dave?

So, as I was saying: optimistic job hunting was of course the former state. I reckon within the first two months (and here was me thinking I would be employed before my dole application had even processed!) I walked haughtily into the gleaming, radiant building that is Stockton Job centre. You see, none of us expect to stay unemployed, David. A certain snooty outlook on the whole ordeal is merely a denial or optimism throughout, for I too am one of those people who has been guilty of complaining about those in receipt of benefits would you believe. As I was saying, every fortnight i would stroll into the JS building with at least two interviews a week in writing, amongst all other prospective employment pursuits. Now Cam (do you mind if i call you Cam?), now I am no child, but a little positive reinforcement never did anyone any harm, did it…? Well not unless you’re facing Tommy DeVito,
“I’m funny how, I mean funny like I’m a clown, I amuse you?”
Even acknowledgement Cam, even (dare i sound too demanding here) a little eye contact? Is that so much to ask Cam (oh I do so hope you don’t mind me calling you Cam)?
What I want to know is this: what exactly is the Job centre advisor service for? In my opinion guidance is a key formality in the success of employment and employability in this country. A basic service one would think. Jeez, I’m not even one of those wayward graduates or even post-graduates who can’t get a job in the field which they chose between three and eight years to study!

I expect it must be a frightful bore for you to receive these begrudging letters presumably daily (Sunday must indeed be the day of rest for you). What i am trying to ask, David, is that the Job centre service not only be in place for a quick nudge nudge, wink wink, give us yer signature and off we go, oh no. We benefits receivers and, to a higher extent, those with far too much pride than sense (having been one of those people myself) who refuse to ‘scrounge’ off the government, those who declare:
“I am not the damp sponge bobbing moistly in the dirty sink that is England and its inhabitants (‘declared inhabitants’ rather, but let’s not get into that one!) and I refuse point blank to be an embarrassing statistic (7.7 per cent of the population I believe).”
We are ordered to actively ‘job seek’ but whom, may I ask, is observing this ‘job seeking’? On my first day at the Jobcentre i asked my advisor,
“So do you record the amount of applications and the times logged on to the job centre plus website?”
“No.” Came the speedy response.
“Then how exactly can you keep track of job seekers and make sure that they’re adhering?”
“We can’t.” Comes the again blunt response.

I have enclosed photocopies of my ‘looking for work’ forms in which the individual on benefits fills in a certain amount of attempts at employment or an ‘active job seeking’. I was informed I wasn’t doing ‘enough’ on my form recently. I had, inevitably, ‘hit my wall’ and, though I was applying for jobs til they came out of my ear holes, the sheer disinterest of my advisor bothered me to an extent. This warning, if you will, was based on a fortnight in which I received seven responses to job applications for which I commuted to London three times in two weeks for interviews and attended the rest in the employmentless north-east. After this, positive that my advisor was not doing her job (how ironic) I began to create entries intended for the advisor directly. I still abided by the Labour Market Declaration but decided to entertain myself in the meantime (two birds, one stone and all that).
What i want to confirm David, is that I am NOT asking for more money. I am NOT trying to expose myself as the very underclass that place pride in mocking the government’s, how do i put it, ‘generosity’. I am NOT writing to moan for non-existent jobs. I am NOT writing to complain about immigration in this country. No, David, all I am asking is that the lost boys, the lost youths of your country are guided and acknowledged- not simply labelled as a statistic, as a stereotype, as a failure, but encouraged to remember that we are in fact the future rather than another mourned for dustbowl.

Kindest Regards, Grace Newton.

 

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11 thoughts on “Letters of an invisible statistic

  1. Dear Grace
    Seen yer in the paper (N.Echo). Understand yer predicament. Hope you find some suitable work too, or at least something tolerable. Feel free to get in touch via facebook ya crazy diamond.
    Have a great Christmas. Best wishes for 2014.
    David J Hope (Chester-le-Street)

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  2. Thanks for your feedback David. Glad you took the time to check out my blog, to be honest the piece in the Northern Echo is vague and doesn’t echo the pleas for representation that i had aimed for within this issue.
    If you know of people affected by this or even a lack of rights in the workplace (which is an issue i delved into with the Echo alas it was ignored) then please send them a link to the blog.

    Regards, Grace Newton.

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  3. Hello Grace,
    Seen your article in the paper, it caught my eye & thought I used to know her when she worked in south knightsbridge.
    Sounds like you have had a bit of a toughie of late.
    Anyway, I have some friends that have set up / setting up a cool bar in camden & looking at some other places too.
    Ping me over your cv & will see if i can put you guys in touch. My email is glennos915@gmail.com.
    I was the guy that used to work across the road who invited you along to brmc.
    Anyway, take care & hope you have a good Cristmas (with no more form filling over the festive period)
    Take care,
    Glenn

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    • Thanks Glenn,

      It wasn’t too long ago when i left Knightsbridge, yes. Not sure on the brmc but i’m sure i would remember you if i saw you!
      Thanks for the help, i’ll be in touch for sure.

      Regards, Grace.

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      • Hi grace, nice to hear from you
        I used to be mr corona until you converted me to desperado. I would pop in with my buddy mr fosters 🙂

        Brmc – black rebel motorcycle club that your old landlady forgot to tell you i had the spare ticket for.

        Take care,

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  4. I enjoyed reading your blog post Grace, and congratulate you on your initiatve to highlight the shameful inefficiencies of this system. Why does the the expression ‘not fit for purpose’ keep trying to force itself into my head? Would love to collaborate with you…I think our missions have a big overlap.

    Best wishes

    Neil

    Like

    • We must remember he is a very busy man Jenny!

      I’m still waiting for a response to a letter/rant i sent to UKIP 7 years ago!

      Thanks for the feedback, just want you to know i super appreciate your support.

      Regards, Grace.

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  5. I enjoyed (if that is the right word) reading this, I can relate to a lot of it… I complained to the jobcentre about the lack of guidence and got sanctioned (to be fair I may have ranted a little lol), but it still stnads that when I went in there after been on JSA a few months and asked “could I maybe have a little help with job hunting?” they gave me a blank stare before saying “there and phones over there and job points here… what more do you need?” :/ it really feels now like I turn up every 2 weeks to sign a bit of paper and nothing more, seems like a pointless journey to get there and back

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    • Thanks for the feedback. It’s such a pity that so many people can relate to my experience.
      Following this whole facade (in regards to the media response etcetera) they changed my ‘guidance’ ‘councillor’ and suggested a few extra programmes which i willingly accepted. One of these was an hour session sat at a computer with five other walking stereotypes being explained how to use jobcentreplus. Apparently the other five weren’t even aware of such a job search programme!
      I wish you the best of luck in your endeavours. Grace.

      Like

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