Well, it appears that far from having a personal vendetta against me, the JobCentre has a vendetta against everybody. On the one hand, it’s comforting to know that it’s not just me who has felt maligned, ignored, patronised and generally ill-treated, but on the other, somewhat depressing that this fine institution is meant to be helping people get into work. I wonder, does the induction of new JobCentre employees include ANY disability or equality training at all? Do they study to be anal and unreasonable?
Allow me to elucidate.
Example one: a friend who is visually impaired as well as deaf and unable to drive was four minutes late for an appointment at the JobCentre because the bus (operated of course by Worst Bus – excuse me, First Bus, the service provider for Bristol who despite running a less than stellar service haven’t had their contracts taken away) was late. Despite Worst – pardon me – First Bus being known for running a lousy service, at those times when they bother to run a service at all, the people at the JobCentre turned him away, saying he mustn’t be late. When he told us this, I couldn’t help but be reminded of all the times I went to the JobCentre for an appointment and being kept waiting for up to half an hour. Conclusion = it’s fine for the JobCentre to keep disabled customers hanging around, but it’s not fine for a disabled customer to turn up four minutes late due to unavoidable and plausible circumstances.
Example two: another friend who is deaf and wears hearing-aids has been having trouble with their local JobCentre Disability Advisor, who apparently turned out to know very little about deafness / Access to Work / anything at all, and so had arranged a meeting with the JobCentre manager to work out the issues. The manager then asked her; “You can’t hear the telephone, but why are you wearing hearing-aids?”, thus proving that ignorance has no barriers.
Example three: Another friend who is deaf went to the JobCentre to sign on. They offered him a job in a call centre.
I would go on, but I feel I’ve made my point. Want to improve the JobCentre? Increase staff, increase funding, give said staff full training including disability and equality awareness, and impress upon them that they are supposed to be encouraging people to go and find work, not exposing them to an ambience so ill-informed, soulless and depressing that going there drains the willpower out of the most determined spirit.
In the meantime, I wish anyone out there who has to deal with the JobCentre the very best of luck.