Response to ‘Heroin Addict’ news coverage

‘Freedom of Speech’ vs the British Press

Joke: “How did the press portray the under-represented, neglected Jobseeker?”
Answer: “They didn’t.”
(It’s more of an inside chuckle than a major LOL)

Freedom of Speech? NO!

Freedom of Speech? NO!
(Check out my epic paint document skills)

Recently, as you may or may not have read, I had written an article concerning my vacant visits to the Jobcentre in search for employment. I had reached a certain amount of people who were obviously affected by the failing system that is the Jobseekers service in this country (which, coincidentally, is losing this country so much money), by posting this on to Facebook (I was going to be all hip and refer to it as ‘A certain Social Media site’ then realised I would be posting THIS via the same site!) This being such a wide set issue though, I decided to speak to my local paper following positive feedback from my peers.
Isn’t it funny how the truth from a nobody is referred to as a ‘claim’ yet the ‘creativity’ shall we say of a National Newspaper Journalist isn’t questioned or even proven?
Check out the changes the creative British press have made! It’s like a set of China dolls getting smaller and smaller. …It isn’t, is it? That was possibly the worst simile ever. SIMILE FAIL.

This is the result., get the bingo card at the ready…

The Northern Echo
I spoke to Lizzie, a Northern Echo reporter on the Friday. She and the photographer were very friendly people…

– rule numero uno DO NOT TRUST A REPORTER.
The day previous I had been following the Autumn Statement (the 2nd of two statements regarding economic forecasts) and found George Osborne’s optimism for present and future employment prospects within the country fascinating to say the least. So THAT’S why we get ignored at the Jobcentre, because the country’s growth is all fine and dandy. The remaining 7.6% (I do apologise as I did, in the previous piece, state 7.7%) of the population need not worry, because guess what guys? 200,000 ex-doleys now have jobs! Yey! That wouldn’t happen to be jobs with mainly zero-hour contracts, seasonal contracts or internships would it? Narrr. David Cameron would BET you on it. He’s so confident in fact that he’d bet all that money he has now saved thanks to this awesomely optimistic and realistic budget!
As usual I’ve sidled somewhat…
So here I am with all this awesome information, thinking, hey if Cameron grasps a hold of this maybe he’ll catch on and get the Jobseekers to work for FREE in the Jobcentres! Win Win! So I’m chatting away with this reporter chick talking about the lack of representation within the benefits system (not that we want, say, Rihanna flying the flag for a welfare state or anything but you catch my drift?). How it’s article after article after article blah blah blah of an 18 year old ex-junkie single mother of 10 who picks her nose and blames her troubles on “those East-Europeans” even though she doesn’t have the slightest comprehension of WHERE Eastern Europe IS. Or Graduates; who I completely sympathise for in all honesty, because it’s like you’re being teased for 16 years of your life, isn’t it? “The Education System is open for all (just not the Job market folks!)”.
I mentioned a family friend who’s recently had her benefits cut, who is following all expectations of the Jobcentre, attending numerous job interviews on a regular basis whilst trying to provide for two teenagers on, what is it, £140 for over 25’s a fortnight? Now, teenagers are NOT easy to provide for. Believe me, I’ve been one. Yet her advisor can walk away (seemingly guilt free) from a single mother  merely weeks before Christmas. Well, she can always grab herself a loan at 47, 761% APR, no problem! Now quit complaining!
Another group of people who are but ghosts in the system are middle-aged skilled workers, people who have worked their whole lives with no need for a degree yet say, at 48, all of a sudden the company they’ve been working 32 years for is reducing its size or moving overseas or maybe it’s even gone bust and here’s Mr. Dedication walking the solemn path home with a redundancy letter at hand and no ideas for the future he thought was engraved in stone!
Lizzie didn’t hear this folks. Must have been all that loud traffic outside…

No wait, this is Fishburn, we don’t have noise.

I talked to said chick about how even when employed, BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS are forsaken, sleaze is shoved under the carpet and employment rights are a distant (if ever present) memory. Who reading this has gone more than 2 hours working without a break? Well of course you have, that would be a damn unproductive workplace if we were taking breaks every 2 hours now wouldn’t it? Yet that is a basic right! A better question: Who has gone 6 hours without a break? 8 hours? 10 hours? 16 hours, Final Offer! Personally, I am not a stranger to the latter, and neither are you the reader, I’m going to guess. Now let’s play a little game, make things a little fun around here. Apparently for a shift more than 2 hours and less than 4 hours you are entitled to 1 paid 10 minute break. For a shift more than 6 hours and less than 8 hours you are entitled to 2 paid 10 minute breaks. Now it’s time to whip out the calculator and play ‘How much am I owed?’. Is it a lot? It’s a lot isn’t it? Here’s a cool example of my own: I started work at 11am, I stepped outside for 5 minutes at 10pm and I finished work at 12am what does this equal? Ten points for those who chose answer C) Slave Labour! Congratulations you smarty pants you!
But here’s the real juicy one, so get this, we all live with this because people live in fear of unemployment. So much so that they will put up with bullying in the workplace and health and safety WARNING SIGNS because they don’t want to end up like yours truly! I received a phone call at 3pm informing me that the Jobcentre had DENIED EVERYTHING, claiming that I had made up all these entries after the forms had been signed. So, y’know, the piece had to be more equal or something, not that I felt I would benefit from any bias anyway. I was asked to give a response to this, I found it laughable, was caught on the spot with sheer shock. It’s a lose lose situation for the Jobcentre and their lazy lies – so my advisor had signed off EMPTY BOXES? Is that what they’re trying to say? A picture is worth a thousand words is it not? And I have a picture of my advisor’s name INSIDE the box saying “Top myself”!
The published Newspaper read “Why would I add things in afterwards? I have more productive things to do with my time.” Now, if I were you and had just read that my response would be “What does she have to do? She’s unemployed!” Am I right or am I right? Right. About 10 minutes after (when not put on the spot!) I emailed Lizzie, slightly riled up I must point out:
“I would also like to make the point (in response to the Jobcentre) that it’s clear they feel they can intimidate people such as myself by means of cutting off people’s benefits, that’s why there isn’t a parallel to my situation up in the air, because scare-tactics are used by the benefits system and to a higher extent the Conservative government to oppress the truth i am expressing.”
But that’s not really relevant is it? …It is?
Oh, also, I am not married (I know right, line up!).

The Daily Mail
I don’t read tabloids.
I studied Journalism for Pete’s sake.
They got this sentence right, “I began unemployment if possible, positively.” That was taken from my blog. The rest of the sentence was from the Echo. YEY I LOVE COLLAGES!
I think it’s been changed now (lost in the censorship of Western Civilisation and its Media corporation I’m positive) but they did initially pen in that I had been unemployed for 2 years in 2000-2002. I have to admit, this IS true. I was somewhat ‘distracted’ what with studying in my first 2 years of Secondary School. What kind of society are we living in, allowing 12 year olds to run around studying in school and not working! How incompetent of us all!
My job was as a Bar Supervisor not ‘barmaid’. Do The Daily Mail realise that ‘barmaid’ has been a politically incorrect term for years? I guess they do have to dumb things down somewhat. And my job was, at first at least, cooperative with me tending to my father’s side so I shan’t begrudge them.

Has anyone who read my initial piece noticed the rapid decrease in, let’s say, ‘substance’ of the issue?

The Daily Star
*Slow motion clapping*
“Jobseeker tells officials ‘I took heroin and watched shit on telly’”.
Tagline underneath refers to it as a ‘joke’ but what Daily Star reader goes past the Headline and pictures? Maybe if they put a boob between each letter the readers would understand.

So hands up who thinks I take heroin now?
I’m not deluded- I admit I do look a little ragged and tired in my photo but I’m pretty sure I would look a little more, well, ‘weathered’ if I were indeed a true Skagboy.
Ummm…this is awkward…I haven’t been looking for a job for a whole year, I HAVE been employed. Oh shit, wait, have I been unemployed this long that I have forgotten what month it is? SHIT! Is it, in fact, September 2014?!?! How embarrassing for me. I am eternally apologetic. I bow down to you oh kings of press oh stars of Stars.
I saw a CLASSIC comment below The Daily Star’s piece from some Wetherby lady or something, it said, “Why doesn’t she get off her arse and find a job, she’s obviously not got any qualifications!”
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (this comment has disappeared by the way!)
It’s like, whose reading The Daily Star mate?

I am going to re-include my letter to Cameron. Maybe someone somewhere will notice. I doubt it.
I put my hands up guys; I’m pretty ashamed of myself. Ashamed of my naivety. I grew up with political activists for parents, I had Tony Blair and George Bush FORCED onto me at school (I am of course being literal in an ideological sense rather than physical, I hope that is clear), I have studied the industry- I KNOW how the media works and yet dumb ol’ me went running TO the very enemies I was running FROM! Oh the humanity.

I hope I don’t get assassinated now.
Would it really matter though?
Your life is your soul. Nobody can take that away from you. (I think Mick Hucknall said that).

p.s. I will eventually become funny again- all of this blog stuff has turned rather too serious dontcha’ think?

Love and Peas! Grace.

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 leaves 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 Jobseekers allowance or income support) with only ambition and hope clouding my vision. All British cynicism was forsaken and before me instead 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 6 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?

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 Jobcentre (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 in fact complain 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? I make you laugh, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?”
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 Jobseekers 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 begrudged letters (presumably) daily (Sunday must, indeed, be the day of rest for you). What i am trying to ask, David, is that the Jobcentre 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 pointblank to be an embarrassing statistic (7.7% 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 jobcentreplus 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 employment-less 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.


3 thoughts on “Response to ‘Heroin Addict’ news coverage

  1. I think even though you might of been ill-portrayed by the newspaper article, it still reached a few people who took the time to read further. For me at least, it resonated enough to make me want to have a look around the rest of your blog, then to check it later for updates.

    I had an awful Job centre experience just in the interview to try and get job seekers allowance, and left swearing never to return, it would actually make quite an interesting article.

    All the best with writing, i really enjoyed everything i read on your blog.


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