Here is the place where I will be doing my 6 hours a week. On entering the room it was clear that no one was very happy to be there. One girl in a bright pink Paul's Boutique tracksuit was visibly upset. One lady had done the course before and was quickly ushered out- why she was there was unknown.
Another lady (and it was all women) had been told she would be there for a few hours on a Tuesday and was gutted- she was in the process of setting up her own baking business and had commitments to that. We were both told to wait outside for Ben (our motivational leader) after we had explained that perhaps this wasn't going to work for us.
Ben was a cool guy and called the programme a 'farce'- he said to me that he faces this situation every day, that he loves helping people but understands that there are many people who feel they are helping themselves already and that the Job Centre also have their hands tied as they have to refer a certain amount of people to him.
At this point Paul's Boutique girl stormed past us and out the door. She had also been told the course was just one day a week. I wonder what will happen to her, I'm pretty sure she'll lose 3 weeks money if not have her benefits stopped altogether. I feel sorry for everyone involved really- one lady said she had not worked for 16 years and looked really scared, I hope the course helps her out.
Before I left I called Ben a 'visionary' just to cheer him up- he seemed pretty pleased. Next time I'm there I'd like to talk to a few more people about their experiences and also use this blog to connect with other people and perhaps interview some of them as well. If you want to talk to me feel free- I can be found on Twitter at @eehammond.
|'It's my life not yours'. Yep.|