Smile, you’re at the JobCentre (Or: the day I was told off for being on time)

My appointment was at 9.10am. The JobCentre is only a couple of minutes’ walk from my home, but I arrived at 8.55am to make sure I wouldn’t be late.

As the Centre opens at 9am, there was a small queue of people clutching their grey “sign-on books” at the front door.

The sight of the local jobseekers made me shudder. Gathered in a small mass like that, they were like a visual representation of the common people’s mood in the current economy (something like the images in the poster below).

This is the one day I become a character in a Charles Dickens’ novel.

How to Overcome Depressionphoto © 2008 Kevin Dooley | more info (via: Wylio)

Long-term unemployment is a slow-killing cancer on the spirit – and it shows on how you look. You stop caring what time you get up, what time you go to bed, what you wear for the day. You are not going anywhere or see anyone, why bother?

I just hoped I didn’t look as dreary as some of them did. I had pledged myself I would stay upbeat this time and have a positive attitude throughout. I made a mental check that I had washed my hair and put some lipstick on before I left home.

At 9 o’clock doors opened and the small crowd of six or seven people streamed in. T., who always stands at reception, was directing each one to the first floor. When my turn came, I put on the most friendly smile I could muster and said to T. I had a 9.10am.

His response stunned me: “Is it sign on?” He rolled his eyes and shifted on his feet. ” Could you NOT queue at 9.00am please?”

Me: “Erm…Why?”

T.: “Because it’s busy and I’ve got to get these people through first; people coming at 9 get in the way. So could you go back out and come back later?”

It was cold and drizzly outside. I wasn’t going to literally leave the premises, so I stepped aside and hung around behind T., trying to look as inconspicuous as possible, not understanding why I felt I had to be inconspicuous.

There was an empty sofa behind T., but he had not told me to take a seat. I didn’t want to risk another telling-off.

T. shepherded the last of the 9 o’clockers upstairs, then turned to me again and said he was sorry but I really should not come at 9 o’clock.  Had he not finished ranting yet? My emotions swung back and forth from shock to sadness, from outrage to compassion.

Yes, compassion. Had T. had a bad morning? Had one of his colleagues been taken ill and he had to do their job today? Had his wife left him? Was he having PMT? I don’t mean to sound sexist, but his behaviour reminded him of when we ladies are having hormonally challenging days.

Attending the JobCentre feels like a prisoner on bail having to report to the police at fixed days and times. Not that I have ever been in prison, but unemployment is, at any rate, a lonely cage of despair. Why a modicum of respect and dignity cannot be spared to jobseekers is beyond my powers of human comprehension.

T. suggested I go do a job search on the JobCentre’s job-search machine “for five minutes”. I was obviously still in his way. Obediently, I  walked to the job machine and clicked on “Local Jobs” trying to ignore the fact that “Avon lady”,  “Sales assistant – energy” and “Judo teacher” were not exactly my cuppa tea.

At 9.10am, I was finally waved upstairs to go see my adviser. This was my first sign-0n day this “season”. I said good morning to the adviser with my professional saleswoman smile on and proudly handed in my grey book, in which I had listed the six actions I had taken in the past fortnight to find a job, including one interview.

I am not sure if any of the information on the book gets entered anywhere but the motions are the same with every jobseeker. This is how it usually goes (every fortnight):

Adviser: “Let’s see if we can find you a job. Is it still publisher, sales manager and journalist you are looking for?

Me (Hmm. Publisher is the place I want to work at, not the profession but never mind): “Yes. [smile]”

A: “How far are you willing to travel? I don’t think there will be anything for you in this area.”

Me: “London?”

A.: “No, there’s nothing in Sussex…and there’s nothing in London either. Any questions?”

Me: “No.”

A.: “See you in two weeks.”

Me: “Yes.”

On the way out, I smiled and said good bye to the security guard but tried not to make eye contact with T.

I had exhausted my smiling quota for the day.



Filed under Unemployment

59 responses to “Smile, you’re at the JobCentre (Or: the day I was told off for being on time)

  1. Lacii

    ROFL, Chie! And I’m not laughing *at* you!

    The JobCentre is such a toilet. It doesn’t matter which one you go to, what time you go, which day your signing-on day is, whatever, it’s still a toilet. There’s always the token drunk, the token homeless person waiting on his homeless mate and the stressed out mother with 4 kids under 5 around her ankles wondering why-oh-why they drag her arse in there every 3 months ‘cos how in the hell is she going to find a job suitable for her circumstances anyway? Oh, and T. is a clone. Straight up! It’s compulsory for every JobCentre to have their very own T. At ours, he’s a 4ft-nothing-was-old-even-when-God-was-a-teenager kinda guy. He LOVES his job. He loves telling people to wait outside, or directing them towards the stairs, and you can see him almost positively burst with excitement when someone actually needs to use the lift!

    I *do* feel bad that you have to do that nonsense every two weeks. When I was on I/S I had to go for my work focused interview every 3 months. It went something like this:

    Personal Advisor: “Hi, anything changed?”
    Me: “No”
    Personal Advisor: “Ok. See you in three months”
    Me: *Eye roll* (Cue mumbling about wasting my precious time)

    Now I’m on ESA and it ain’t no better…. My point being… You’re not alone hun. It’s miserable and depressing, time consuming and disheartening, but I’m convinced that something will turn up for you. Keep your head up, and keep that smile going! And in the mean time… When you dropping off my Avon order? =P


    • Thank you for this, Lacii. I love your analogy of “toilets”…. Yup, it’s one we can’t avoid. Just hold your breath while you’re in there and come out as quickly as possible before the stink starts clinging to you…


  2. I will FOREVER be a fan of your writing!! You are AWESOME. As you continue to battle through, please continue to write, because God As My Witness, THIS will be your saving grace. The fact that you like *my* writing really humbles me, because you are so damn good…


  3. I totally agree with this article.

    “Signing on” is an old technique deemed that
    a) a person must sign for payment (instead of electronic or assumed unless told otherwise – it adds like a contractual element to it although its statutory law) and
    b) a person is only available for work when s/he can make a sign on appointment once every 2 weeks. If you are late etc. you are treated as having a job and sanctioned because of it (seriously though, what difference does the odd 5 minutes make? Like you say though, you can be “too early” this is just to make you come on time, i.e. make it more likely you to arrive late. Its either 15 minutes early or 5 minutes late with most public transport so people opt to be early to safeguard their benefits.)

    Over the years, a Jobcentre Plus was created… people are now branded “customers” instead of claimants, many Employment Officers are branded as Customer Service advisers, ever increasing security, the support job search every 2 weeks is just to force sanctions on people* and not to help you secure employment, certain time in your claim it becomes weekly signing on (to help with the previous point and to make sure you aren’t working on the side) and jobseekers are treated like shit (and even advised) to sign off if they don’t like it. Any sarcasm, back chat or sticking up for yourself becomes deemed as an “assault”** – I would say its like being treated as at school, but my vague memories are of it not being quite as bad.

    * Concept of employment services delivered by DWP: and
    ** They fill in a form reporting verbal and physical (including throwing pens etc.) “incidents” which become consolidated down as assaults – although most relate to verbal, and majority of the time physical incidents are limited to slamming doors and kicking chairs – not exactly an assault either.

    Hope this helps 🙂


  4. Thank you for your comment and all these useful links. The list of what is deemed “physical abuse” by the DWP made me laugh out loud. Is all this information based on a reliable source?
    If security guards are employed at Job Centres to safeguard staff against (accidental) spitting and door slamming, I can imagine it would make a good Daily Mail article: “Is taxpayers’ money being used to protect JobCentres from saliva?”… 😉

    I also found it interesting what you say about the DirectGov website not being search engine friendly. No wonder nothing came up when I searched for any free telephone numbers for JobCentres. Maybe it’s time for them to hire an SEO expert? Hmmm…I feel another blog post coming up….


    • Its directly from JCP policy and their form they use. Actually that would be a great blog post from someone who likes writing satire blogs as well as the Daily Mail.

      DirectGov is dreadful concept. The whole structure for it is wrong. Instead of the session based system something more like ‘/jobs/ABC12345/ASDA_Shelf_filler’ (haha) that you can add to favourites and visit another time without having to search again. Also, if the job has since closed (but you have already applied for it) the job advert is still relevant for you if you want to review it (you would just remove page from search).

      I am not an SEO expert… but I would volunteer lol


  5. Bambi

    After graduating from university in 2009 I struggled to find any sort of job. When I started signing on, the adviser at the job centre said that I had to choose 3 different types of job to search for. As I had no experience, the only thing I was anywhere near qualified for was admin or secretarial work but because I had to choose a third job type I ended up just saying retail too. This resulted in being constantly bombarded with print outs of various retail jobs which I had no experience in, which I did actually apply to even though I knew it was pointless. I did bring it up with the adviser on several occassions but I was just told that I had to apply for a certain amount of jobs each week, seemingly whether I had a cat in hells chance of getting it or not!

    The three month interview was much the same as how you explained. For some reason I had to start signing on at a different job centre at this time but it was all much the same thing of unsuitable jobs being printed off for the sake of it. There was also a space of time in which if the adviser printed off the job I absolutley HAD to apply for it otherwise they could stop my allowance apparently. I was already applying to anything and everything so this didn’t bother me as such but I did feel a bit bullied.

    So it came to six glorious months of unemployment and I was sent on a god awful two week course especially for 18 -25 year olds which comprised of the usual team building crap of what would you take with you on a desert island etc. Jobs were hardly spoken about and there were 8 computers between the 24 people in my group for which we were supposed to use to job search. Many of the members of the group were particularly loud and uninterested in what was being said and I found the whole thing extremely intimidating.

    I finally got a 6 month temporary job about a month after the awful course which I loved. Everything about it was perfect but there was no funding to keep me on so now i’m back on benefits. My contract ended in January but I only started my claim yesterday via the internet due to absolute terror. It sounds stupid but I am petrified even thinking about having to go back into the job centre and the thought of going on that course again is unbearable. I’m now on the edge of my seat waiting for an adviser to call to arrange the first signing on session.

    I’m so glad I found your site because it’s made me feel that much better but even just driving past the job centre sends a shiver down my spine because of past experience. Oh and also, I don’t know about being too early for an appointment but once I was about 2 minutes late, no exaggeration, and I was made to wait near enough 45 minutes before I saw anyone. I suppose it’s just one of those grin and bear it situations…


    • Hi Bambi. Your comment made me smile. I am so glad you found this blog useful. Yes, being a jobseeker registered with the JobCentre is a truly unpleasant experience.
      You shouldn’t actually have been forced to put down three fields to look for jobs in. They should be able to accept two, but I get the impression you came across to them as being young and un-confident, and they tricked you into thinking you had to accept retail jobs too. Next time put your foot down!

      You say you have a university degree. Well, then, you shouldn’t feel like the only jobs you can do are secretarial, and retail is probably fine for temp jobs but do you see yourself working in retail permanently? Lots of companies’ senior executives never went to university; they got to where they got through sheer perseverance.

      I don’t know what you studied at uni, but could you be trying an entry position in that area? Have you done any work experience while studying? If you did, and they liked you, they might be happy to offer you some part-time or temp work, so do contact them. Don’t be afraid to write speculative letters too, instead of waiting for job ads to come up. A great number of companies never advertise their vacancies. If it’s a company you did some work experience in or you admire, write to them saying how much you liked the experience/admire their work, highlight your education, skills (voluntary work, temp work…everything counts when you don’t have a career yet), and your qualities as a person. If you think a job will require good prioritisation of tasks, for instance, give them examples of when you had to multi-task…even if it was just to organise a birthday party.

      You’ve only just finished uni. You can’t be expected to have a three-page career list, and employers do know that. Be more confident of the contribution you can make to society, even without a massive career history.

      I wish you the best of luck and please do keep checking in here to share your experiences. I greatly value and appreciate every single comment people leave.


  6. Pingback: Writing Prompt: Starved « bardicblogger

  7. Pingback: Off the dole; what next? | On the dole, on the ball

  8. mr.bigalo, oh yeh I'm a bastard gigalo

    This is the stupidest thing I’ve ever read, your crying because he asked you to come in at your sign time and not early, grow up you turnip


    • You completely missed the point of this blog post, I’m afraid. And I did not cry – please don’t distort my words.
      I welcome all comments here, including from those who disagree with my point of view, but will not tolerate abusive language and rudeness. If you leave another rude comment, I will block you.


    • Jen

      Should be you’re crying. Not your crying.


  9. brendan

    I am glad i stumbled onto this site, I agree with most of the comments and sentiments expressed so far. I used to be one of Jehovahs witnesses, not any longer, thats for another time,it made me laugh, that going to the kingdom hall, and jobCentre, were so alike, as.both populated by the same types of people,loathesome power craazy, control freaks who know best and can.t be argued with or challenged.Yes folks belonging to a cult and going to the jobCentre are one and the same thing. Both suck the life and hope from you, also you can never do enough to please either of them, and before you enter either of these establishments, the feeling of dread, and, once you have left, that feeling of relief that its all over, until next time.Unemployment also bring with it a degree of shame and social exclusion,just like being a JW, as well as a feeling of being stigmatised, and being given mindless repedative and menial tasks to undertake, eg, filling in the ,Looking for work form 6 times per fortnight,looking at those job terminals ect and as a JW, knocking on thousands of doors { most unanswered} only to be told to bugger off or worse when someone did answer. Yes my friends there are numerous similarities, of being in a cult and being made unemployed and having the pleasure of visiting a jobcentre, unfortunately, none of them good. best wishes to all,Brendan.


  10. Chezza

    Exactly how I feel Brendan.. but good luck and don’t feel shamed! I don’t know anyone who hasn’t signed on at some point throughout their life!


  11. shane

    Interesting read. I’ve never signed on before but I think I’m going to have to soon, not looking forward to it!


  12. What a breath of fresh air reading all your comments, I was starting to feel I was the only person that spoke to their advisor (cough splatter at the job title) in a silent ancient tongue. My 11 year old son has just been diagnosed with ADHD after an 8 year battle with a separate set of morons, due to my sons age and his disability combined with his developmental delays and learning problems i can honestly ONLY work term time as there are NO childcare facilities for his age and needs, despite this I am supposed to go to the direct gov web site 5 times a week write to at least 2 company’s a week along with being immediately available for work to be able to work all year. I have been informed that if I state term time only I will be classed as not available to work and my claim will be stopped. I am hoping now his diagnosis has been done he can get DLA and I will not be getting threatened with the penny’s they throw at us every 2 weeks. Last year they stopped my money for being late to an appointment that I was early to, despite the reception guy and a member of security telling the advisor that I was there early, the appeal took 10 half months after being lost twice and although they backdated the money they did not allow for that one day, which meant obviously that my back to work bonuses were not in place as I had not been out of work for 6/12 months. Today I have gone to the bank and there is no giro in my account, on friday I had to fill in a form as I did not have my job search book easy mistake as I had my son home from school and was also looking after my 7 month old grandson. I also attended a loneparent workshop as Directed on Monday, i have looked through my appointment cards and just realised the j/cntrs number is not written on them tut tut, so now I will have to walk the 3 miles to the j/centre in the morning to see what is going on. They are not there to assist or aid us in anyway what so ever. their job these days seems to be to make us feel as worthless lazy and pathetic as possible while installing as many sanctions on us as is possible to ensure maximum stress and reduce the back to work bonuses. What I find most distressing is in my situation with the limitations I have regarding work I could be a fantastic Lone Parent advisor only needing to work term times, as finding childcare in the middle of the holidays is extremely hard as I know from experience with my eldest child. I have understanding empathy, I get the difference working makes in your life I hate being unemployed and yet here I sit not knowing what I am going to do for gas and electric if they do not sort out what has happened with my money this time ! while I have Morons dictating my life who really have no clue, I would estimate 1 in 5 lone parent advisor’s have a clue about the people they are supposedly advising.

    Oh well good luck to everyone on escaping the pit of despair AKA your local friendly job centre


    • TRIXIE

      Lol so true, this article made me feel so much better, after another day of feeling rather blue about this dire situation, they don’t help you get jobs just critise you and make u feel rubbish, they have a superiority complex and think they are untouchable lets hope most of them be out of a job before too long


  13. There you go I received a two week sanction for not enough job search, I have been told I can go to the phone box with the 0800 number for a crisis loan, but they doubt I will receive it as I have a sanction in place and am not entitled to anything while the sanction is there. I spent yesterday afternoon in a cue and did not get through. I have now borrowed money off of my neighbour ( how humiliating) for my gas and electric. Monday I shall phone to see if my reconsideration appeal was successful then it will be back in a never moving cue to the crisis loan line.


    • Jon

      You should apply for hardship payments, its not as much as full benefit but better than nothing.

      Also always arrive early to a job centre, there may be a long queue at reception and being sanctioned for being late as you where in the queue is not unheard off.


  14. grandson at jobcentre told him he had to take a job miles away. we live in a tiny village and buses dont come through often let alone at five in the morning so he can start work at sixam he asked if there was one near to where he lived she asked him if he was refusing to work he said no but i wont be able to get there, i listened to all this being said, she was very nasty tohim and i think that when you get to that stage its time for the employer to get rid of that person as speaking to people like she did isnt nice,she had no manners at all and obviously lookes down on people, there are 90%of people in the job centres that are jen people and the other a waste of time and my grandson isnt one of them,i no he would do her job properly and respect the ones looking for work by talking to them with a dignifief manner, if she had spoken to me like that i would have got her the sack,now hehas had his money stopped, and i no she has said he has refused work, the poor lad is passed himself, but i am going to take this further,she hasnt been educated to do that she is taking matters into her own hands


  15. I just started signing on at the end of September, and have still recieved no money, I asked for it to go to a post office account, does anyone know if the job centre sets up this account for you? I’m already sick of all the hoops they expect you to jump through and when i’ve rang up to ask for help got a very rude man on the other end of the phone who has made me consider if I could just somehow live without the money!ha. Your blog however has made my day 🙂


    • If you haven’t got a bank account yet – or your existing bank account(s) is deep in debt – you should be able to collect JSA at a local post office.

      They prefer bank accounts though, and I think you have to open the Post Office cash account yourself (as you would any other account) then give the sort code and account number to the Job Centre.


  16. Jayne

    i have just been sanctioned and lost my money for 3 months for not applying for a job that is 12 miles away from my house, i cant drive and i am reliant on public transport, if i was to catch a bus it would cost me £200 per month to get to work and i would be finishing at midnight and there are no buses to my village that late at night and what would cost me a £7 journey during the day would be £24 at midnight.
    i cant afford to fork out that much money a month. i also asked about going to College at the same time and i was told that if i got a job whilst on the course i would have to drop the course and go for the job, i would be going to better myself and i wouldnt drop it for a menial job that i would hate


  17. Elizabeth

    I have just found this site and have to say a big thank you for not making me feel I am the only one to feel this way, I have not long be on JS but only have a few months until I retire, the way they speak to me you would think I have 100 years left until I retire, I was told that I wouldnt be able to retire and wouldnt be able to afford to retire, I told them I was retiring and I couldnt be worse off than I am now, also I cant sign on once I reach retirment age. It is not actually the signing on that is so bad it is more the way I am spoken to, no respct what so ever, the little hitlers have you in the palm of their hands as to how they speak to you and you cant say a word or you lose your money, they are jobs worth and as I believe in what goes round comes round I have faith in one day these horrible people will some day get their comeuppance in life. I love the jobs they put in my inbox on this new site for me to apply for. ie. labouring on a building site on the other side of the country, electronics on board a ship, like I can do this, again miles away from where I live ( these are only two of the many that dont fit my CV) and was told when I questioned it I have to apply, so apply I did and would love to be a fly on the wall when they got my CV for these jobs. I asked how the hell they gave me these jobs from my CV and all I got was waffel, none of the jobs are in any near distance to where I live I also dont drive and live in a place where the transport is all but none exsistant. I am waiting for the day I can retire and never have to sign on again and have to put up with these people who I swear have no idea of how difficult it really is out there job wise.


    • Oh Elizabeth, I do feel for you. I get at least two to three comments on this blog everyday by people complaining about the same thing: the contempt they were treated with at their JobCentres, the absurd jobs they are forced to apply for at threat of sanctions… It is not fair, especially for someone approaching retirement age, to be treated with disrespect just because they are unemployed. Unemployment is rampant. We have been having a recession in this country for a few years now but it is not the fault of the jobless. If only JobCentre employees could act with a little more humanity and compassion, it would make a world of difference.
      I hope you find some solace in your upcoming retirement. At least you will not have to walk into another JobCentre again or have to apply for astronaut jobs on the Moon, etc! 🙂


      • TRIXIE

        Thanks for this article, made me laugh, I can relate to it, nice reading about all our crappy experiences, kinda makes you feel your not being over sensitive about ti all


  18. Hi my daughtering law as just been taken off income support she as four children the youngest being only two she has always been looking forward for a career in caring once her children are at school, it was her first time at the jobcentre the other day she explained her circumstances, and her passion for a job training in caring

    She was told that she had not got the right qualifications for a caring ? she explained that she was willing to gain the appropiate qualifications , part time .. She was advised that she had to find employment full time at least 40 hours and therefore had to take a job in retail ? or risk loosing her benifits ?

    She is not even in receipt of yet as she as been told it can take up to 10 days or more before they can make a payment , during this time she as to write a cv look for and proove she as had at least two interviews ? or applied for a job ?.. or she will not recieve any benifit ? how does she feed her four children ? also gas / electric during the next ten days … its sickening the way some people are being treated ,, forced to take a job in retail? what as happend to your human rights


  19. maxi

    i m due to sign on today , but not till late afternoon, and i am dreading it, i know there is a local job to me that i will be made to apply for but i know how bad they treat people so id rather not. i have been offeed a job but untill i get a contract i wont be informing the job center,i was on a short term contract which had initially been renewed but then revoked . ive continued to look for jobs due to the contract thing they make you sign but to be honest there is only so much you can do.
    when i initially went in the job center i got upset about this and felt ill. i looked around and maybe im being nasty but i thought how have i ended up like this ive worked virtually since i was 18 but now im in my 30s having to live at home not able to claim housing benifit and reliant on familys charity and yes thats how i feel.
    i looked around and yes there were the young mums with lots of kids, maybe if id gone down that route id be better off , ie housing benifit not having to work hard to get a degree, and even more humiliating actually considering payment for on line sex just so i could pay my bills and keep a car so that i could travel to jobs when i eventually got one.
    that how desperate i have become , im not proud of myself unlike some of these people claiming ier the couple in todays paper 17 grand in benifits why get a job!


  20. Fed up

    I haven’t had any bad experiences at the JCP – my local JCP is in Ammanford. Advisors are very friendly; however, it is obvious that they are unable to offer any useful advice to unemployed professionals.

    I’m a PhD qualified engineer, with several years’ experience. 3rd time unemployed – 1st time was for 6 months, when I was made redundant from ST; 2nd time was (8.5 months) following end of a contract; and 3rd time (currently 8 months) following end of another contract.

    Whole experience is soul destroying. I think it is definitely worse for men, as women can quite easily revert to being homemakers. Anyway, for the last two periods of unemployment, I’ve owned my house outright, so not so much stress in that regard. Problem is that JSA isn’t enough to live on. House insurance, car, telephone/internet (now essential for job search), utilities etc. As a prepper, I store ~6-12 months of food. How on earth do ordinary JSA people afford to eat?

    I don’t bother washing much nowadays. I can certainly go for days without shaving – much to the annoyance of my wife. Luckily for us, my wife landed an office job last week. Since my 6 months of JSA ends in March, I will be inelligible for JSA. It’s a bit of a relief not having to sign on again. Problem is that I will still be unemployed. No one wants to employ a PhD – I can do most jobs, but I don’t get any replies, let alone interviews – 2 in the past 8 months. I did have one interview last week for a job that is not in engineering. More than 7 days later, no reply. Typical of companies these days. Despite what James Dyson says, there is no shortage of engineers and scientists in Britain. What there is a shortage of is proper engineering jobs!

    Employment agencies make me twitch and shake with rage. Can’t stand them, what with their fake job advertisements and lack of common sense. Useless agency workers can only match keywords on CVs and covering letters to their stupid job specifications. They don’t understand the concept of transferable skills.

    Anyway, it’s gone 10:30 am, and it’s a choice between Homes Under the Hammer or going back to bed.


    • Mr +ve

      Hi FedUp,
      just wondering – but with your qualifications and experience would there be any merit it joining up with an app developer to see if you both can produce a niche app?
      Just a thought! 🙂
      Good luck.
      P.S. I’m an app developer! 😉
      P.P.S. So many job agencies staff have a superficial understanding of your field and most of the emails you receive a merely key-word matching. But I always try to remember that I am using them and play along with them to try and get what I want from them.
      P.P.P.S. I’ve been through this a few times so I do sympathise and hope everyone of you can dig deep to keep your spirits up in spite of everything. Those who have no experience of this cannot appreciate the qualities you all have in keeping on in such circumstances.
      I wish you *all* well and I hope a company is lucky enough to have you accept an offer from them in the near future.


    • Ian Ellis

      You have my deepest empathy I have a degree a post graduate teaching qualification a host of other qualifications and for 20 years I taught in adult education. 4 years ago the government brought in direct fee payments and as a consequence the cost to the student went from £147 to £3983. The course I taught on was cancel and I became unemployed, I have now been out of work for 3 ½ years and have applied for close to 4000 jobs potential employers and the job centre tell me I am over qualified and over 50 so it’s unlikely I will ever find work. Nonetheless there are many job centre staff that treat me like dirt. I have had enough of the constant struggle of trying to pay bills and to eat. I feel totally useless and I feel the job centre attitude is negative and appears to be designed not to promote any self confidence.


  21. Claire

    It’s a relief to know I’m not the only one that dislikes the jobcentre this much. I’ve been signing off since I left college in July, and so far they’ve done nothing to help me. I got in every week and they look over my jobsearch log and give me a telling off for not doing enough and tell me I need to up my game or head office will end my claim.

    The thing is, I can only really apply for jobs that are local because I have severe travel sickness and long journeys, especially on crowded public transport, make me very ill. However, to claim JSA you have to agree to travel up to 90 minutes to a job, which I said I would because I needed the money. >.<

    The jobcentre don't help me find jobs at all, and I can't remember the last time an advisor did a jobsearch during an appointment. They just see what I've done and then scold me like a naughty child.

    I'm thoroughly depressed and every time I have to go to an appointment I feel sick with nerves that I'm going to be told off and belittled. The last advisor I had even agreed that there weren't enough jobs on the system, but then said it wasn't her problem. =/

    I think I need to go to the doctor's and talk to him about my situation with the travel sickness. I'm also concerned that my depression is flaring up again and that I may be suffering from ME/CFS… Although I'm worried that once I've told the doc all this, it will mean I end up on the sick.

    And I think if I end up on incapacity benefit I'd feel guilty that I wasn't working and worried that people would think I was a freeloader or using my issues as an excuse to be lazy.

    Argh. Everything's a mess. :c


    • Oh Claire, your situation doesn’t sound good, I’m so sorry. Could the travel sickness be partly due to stress and depression? I’d recommend you go see an understanding GP, who will assess you as a whole person, not just judge by the symptoms. If he/she can write a letter certifying that you have a physical condition that prevents you from travelling far on public transport, surely the JobCentre must take that into consideration? In the meantime, please see if the dr. can help you cope with the travel sickness so that you can get on with your life. But remember: there is nothing to feel guilty about. Try not to get into a vicious circle of self-blame as that will make you feel even lower. Finding some kind of volunteer or community work for you to do locally might also help boost your self-esteem, as we always feel good when we are being useful and able to help others. Good luck!


    • TRIXIE

      I hear you !!!!!


  22. Megan

    Wow i came across you site just sitting in bed and wondering why god put me on this earth to suffer so much. I have a disability, my friends and family are just sick of me moaning. Noone has a clue the pain i suffer with my spine, come to think of my body.
    I keep going, get jobs, get made redundant everytime. I get scared that i have to sign on once again. Everything you say is what i have felt and feel. I dont go out, carnt sleep just worrying where you get your next meal.
    I live in a flat, its a dump. Looking at people with no limbs or worse off than me doesnt make me feel worse or better. I lost my mum at 24 she was my best friend. I saw mum go though bad times and never thought i would be here too. People say life is what you make it. RUBBISH. I am a very positive lady, but when you are beaten down everytime you just start again, i have no more emotions or energy. xx love your blog


    • Oh Megan, I am so sorry to hear that is the way you feel. I went through very dark times while I was unemployed but I came out the other end in one piece in the end and have gradually recovered my self-esteem and confidence since. I now work full time again. I know how hard it is to find anything to be positive about when you are in that position but please try to find even the smallest scrap of joy in your everyday life. If you flat is a dump, why not tidy up one small section of it a day, maybe get some flowers to brighten up the mood? Burn some incense? All these challenges you are facing now are turning you into a very strong person. You may hate your life right now but one day you may even be glad you have been toughened up by life itself. That’s the way I feel now. Please don’t lose faith. Don’t give up! Never give up.


  23. Julia

    I am glad I found your site 😀 I applied for JSA last Friday and am still waiting for them to contact me for a first interview. From what I have read I am dreading going in as I hate people who treat others with little, or no, respect and feel that my tongue will be bleeding by the end of it with all the biting it will get from trying not to react. I have already collected a pile of job applications to take with me but don’t like the impression I am going to have to jump through hoops just to please someone who doesn’t give a monkey’s about people. Maybe there are people who really don’t want a job but I am searching every day for jobs that match my abilities and am doing my best to get one. If it wasn’t for the fact I need to get some money to help with the bills I probably wouldn’t have bothered applying for JSA. So much for the ‘we will contact you within 2 working days ‘ statement; This is now day 4 post application. I know they are probably overworked but at this rate I will (hopefully) have found a job before they get round to me.


  24. brett

    So glad i found this website, i thought i was the only one who hated going into the jobcentre.. and with all due respect found thier help utterly useless. Since the age of 14 i have always had work, working markets, part times warehouse work throughout college and various bits and bobs whilst i studied at college. However having left college in 2010 i have been without full time employment ever since. Apart from a brief few months of labour work a year ago. I have gone from an energetic teenager who would go out the way for alittle extra cash to a worn down unmotivated waste of space. The first year of unemployment i spent every day scouring the internet for jobs, buying papers every day and even getting a bus into town most days just walking into random shops asking for vacancies… but to no avail. So in the jobcentres eyes i am lazy, they would tell me i’m not doing enough. The one advisor flat out called me a liar accusing me of writing down a fake business number.. the bitch then phoned up the number and guess what the boss answered and told her i HAD applied. I don’t care what anybody says the only job of the advisor is to find away to kick you off benefits… infact of the 2 sonething years i have wasted on the doll i have only really been paid for about 1. My pay was once stopped for 3 months for “assaulting an advisor”.. when infact after i kindly explained that this week has been hard i have only applied for 4 vaccancies because i could’nt find any with no expierience needed.. she then told me in her smarmy way “i’ve got 2 sons your age, they can find work”.. after she told me it was going to a decision maker i pleaded with her but eventually lost my temper and told her to “f**k her money” and threw my jobsearch on the floor. Absolutely no where near her. It was also stopped for 3 months because i walked out of those damn mandatory work proggrammes.. i’m looking for warehouse or labour work.. so why am i cramped upstairs in a damn british heart foundation shop sorting through dirty unwanted clothes? The boss wanted me to work from 9 till 2.30 without a break because she was short staffed… what has that got to do with me?.. i also was refused ciggarette breaks.. after explaining this to my advisor they still damn stopped my pay. It’s just horrible being on benefits, the stigma is possibly the worst bit. It just feels that the world is slowly passing by and i’m not getting anywhere. I see people my age with thier own cars, houses etc and i’m still in the same situation i was when i left college. I’m not gonna lie about it i am slowly becoming lazy. I just wish people who have jobs could understand how hard it is and how much it can wear you down.. and the help the jobcentre give you is a downright disgrace.


  25. Niraj Pandya

    I had the experience of being and seeing what could be called life in the jobcentre today. My ‘job’ adviser said to me I have not stuck to their list of applicant jobs. Being unemployed is bad enough but being unemployed and having Autism/AS is a huge problem not for them but for me. I am not usually critical about the situations I am in but for this I will make an exception.

    The jobcentre staff are not helpful at all. There is no point in giving ‘jobs’ that do not exist there should be only proper jobs. My ‘job’ adviser said I should stick to their made up list of ‘retail, admin and warehouse’. I have sent and applied and emailed for over 300+ jobs and it is driving me into the pits of despair.
    There is no point in putting people in these horses for courses. An example of this is the Action For Employment, if they want action for employment there is no point in putting people in a room made to feel infantile about how to write a curriculum vitae
    There is no point in me using an old system where it will prove useless to me. Secondly what is with all this lost paperwork crap in the jobcentre from the staff? If you want to keep things organised just buy a folder and you will not lose your most important documents. Thirdly what is the point of all of these old jobs, they should be advertising new jobs it is not like I don’t know The Stone Age where there are jobs from 5/7 years ago you so called ‘job’ adviser. I do not like it when there are charities that are affiliated with the jobcentre, I think they should do some homework and research which charities are for people of different disabilities and then forward it to their clients/customers. That is another thing why I despise the jobcentre, you are not known by your name just by your national insurance number it is just like that television show The Prisoner. The word adviser has lost all meaning since this organisation came in with its King Kong sized footprint. Volunteer work does not give me any appetizing, it is the ultimate oxymoron volunteer which is equal to no pay.

    In conclusion I think that the staff at the jobcentre do not understand 18-25 people especially those who have different disabilities. There is no backbone in that place because they are all running around like headless chickens, even the management is just so bad. I bet even the unemployed can do a better job running the place than the staff on a given day.


  26. Pingback: UK Government Targets IM After Fraudster Satire | ukgovernmentwatch

  27. Abbie Laverick

    I hate job center staff. They are to cocky. If there ever rude to me I make a loud point to be rude back. They need to realise if everyone had work then they would be jobless.


  28. Linda

    I have been singing on for almost a year now. Most of the staff i have found to be pleasant and friendly. However i now have a new advisor and she is awful.I have been sent on 2 city and guilds courses which i have passed and i think she resents this. she now has me on a level 3 city and gulids teaching course (bearing in mind the previous 2 were only level 1) and i hate it. I am the only person from the job centre there and the rest of the students in my class are either teaching already or have professional qualifications ,we had an icebreaker session where the tutor went round the class asking about jobs etc and i was the only unemployed person , it was so humiliating. I’m scared to tell my advisor at the job centre i don’t want to do it anymore, as she is one of those who is looking for the slightest reason to sanction people. She pressurised me into going on the course and said if i didn’t go for the initial assessment i would be sanctioned. i have never been interested in teaching and am only continuing to go as i’m scared my money will be stopped. I’m not a lazy person and have made every possible effort to find a job and have done everything the job centre have asked of me and more besides. Why should i be beliitled and bullied just because i’m unemployed? I’m still a human being. All i can hope for is that i get given a different advisor, the one i had before was lovely, wish i still had her. The new one looks down her nose at me, also i don’t think she likes me as she said my exam results were better than hers ! Anyway if anyone has any advise on how to deal with this whole mess i would be most greatful. Thankyou.


    • Mr +ve

      all I can suggest is to stick at it. You may find that even though you don’t want to be a teacher, it may come in useful where say a job requires some element of training other people even if it is only a part of the role.
      Don’t let them grind you down as I can tell you from personal experience that it doesn’t mean you haven’t any hope.
      If it continues with this advisor I wonder whether there is any mechanism to ask to be changed. I don’t know and I would act cautiously in case there could be some type of recrimination if you do. But at the end of the day you need them to help you get a job – not extinguish your hope!
      Good luck, I wish you well.


  29. Yeah that’s exactly how I find the Job Centre, a pit of despair, people scurry in and out of with eyes down. And you can tell the people who’ve never been before by the way they nervously walk in looking scared and ashamed, and glancing over their shoulders as they walk through the door.

    And the buildings in my city are massive – why the hell don’t they have something that may actually help people find work, like – say – an IT suite for people without reliable Net access or a computer?

    Given that libraries often limit Net access and are being closed down, and not everyone without Net access has a laptop or (in some cases) the money (including travel money sometimes) for a coffee or half-pint to nurse for hours whilst using wifi in a cafe/pub/fast food restaurant.

    I tend go over the 6 things I need to do, and list every single thing I’ve applied for on a jobsite or application form or anything that could be described a job seeking activity, in the hope they can’t claim I’m not trying enough (I’ve reached 25 this fortnight, once reached 95 one fortnight when I was really pissed off and just kept applying to all sorts of crap on jobsites). They rarely check it when dazzled with such a list.

    And for those above who call it a toilet – interestingly despite being a government building in which people are sometimes kept waiting well over an hour, they apparently don’t have publicly accessible toilets (even locked ones you can request to use).

    A lady with one of those medical condition cards was refused use of the staff facilities. Luckily mine has a supermarket with a loo round the corner.


  30. Kathy McBride

    I just signed on today, and was told a fortnight ago, that if I didn’t arrive at
    exactly 9am, I would have a day’s money docked!! However, the bloody office didn’t open its’ doors until 9.10am, and there was a fair queue in front of me, before that happened. I wasn’t seen at the counter until 9.30am

    They want everybody to see you standing outside, and make u feel crap
    about your life.
    Civil service jobs are taxpayers’ money too! Lots of them aren’t
    worth their wages either, in my opinion.
    Life isn’t fair, and you cannot control what happens to you sometimes. You can choose how to think about it though.

    I may write a letter of complaint to the MP in charge of social welfare about this, and see what happens.
    This site is a great comfort to visit.


  31. Lee

    Ive been signing on and off for so many years i guess it becomes normal i have too laugh otherwise i would cry or get down. I have said many times to them without us signing you would be on this side as-well. There is defo a social stigma where we are all looked upon as JOB-SEEKERS working People and Job-seekers are treated totally different in my opinion and its not on. Not all of us have got 12 kids take drugs drink on a daily basis but somehow i and yourself get put into these kind of same category’s i really do hate the way things are right now. The system bless my language is Fucked.


  32. Lee

    It has caused social exclusion.People becoming Sick with mental health depression etc Next time you go on ESA tell them your going on there because of the jobcentre. My adviser even advised me to go on the sick last year. Pretty funny the joke centre.


  33. Must have to say I agree with everything I’ve read,I signed on after graduating some twenty years ago and was made to feel like garbage,I signed on about a year ago and was made to feel like garbage….again!


  34. Si

    I’ve been put onto daily signing and they have said that this gives me more support to look for a job but every day i go in there all they say is “We are too busy to go through anything today, here’s an appointment for tomorrow”, this happens pretty much every day. UNTIL YESTERDAY………………

    I went in for my usual meeting with the Gestapo and was seen by a 4 foot something jumped up little Hitler who think he is gods gift to all the women in the office (trust me, he isn’t). He then asks why i hadn’t applied for the jobs that were saved for me and i inform him that i had but when i click on them they redirect me to another site and that i have to record this on the activity history as the main system just ignores it. He tells me I’m a liar. I go to the computer that us scum (in their eyes) get to use and sign in and prove i have and even show him on my phone the email i got when i applied. Nope, I’m still a liar. I asked him if he could speak to me and treat me like a human being and not a stray dog he found in the street and he says “If you don’t like it you can always sign off”

    I then insist he stands there while i pointlessly click buttons to show him what it does and why the UJM system doesn’t work, he refuses to and tells me the only problem is with my computer at home. Not sure how that makes any sense but these people have no clue.

    Every day i go there i feel more and more depressed which is made worse by not finding work which in turn is made worse because they tell you how much of a failure you are because you don’t find any.

    I will have to go back in later today but luckily it is now Friday and I’ll have the weekend to relax a bit, even though they say i should be searching for jobs 7 days a week, 8 hours a day.

    I will also be going to the doctors next week to try and get signed off and get onto ESA for a bit just so i can get a break from it and apply for jobs without the added pressure of going there every day and pretty much be told I’m a worthless piece of shit.

    Little orphan Annie was wrong, i hate you tomorrow.


  35. Si

    Well it is now a month on and i’m still on daily signing. I go in there every day and do everything they want me to do but to them this still isn’t enough.

    I’m also supposed to get my fares paid because i’m going in there every day but so far out of 4 weeks of fares only one weeks has been paid. I’m sure they just don’t put the claim for fares through to where it is supposed to go. I was told i should walk the 6 mile round trip and not claim fares because “It is like you have anything else to do, you’re unemployed”

    I also asked what the point of daily signing is and i got this answer “If we make you come in every day and piss you off enough then hopefully you will just sign off”, yeah, that was said to me by a Job Centre Advisor.

    I did try to get signed off so i could go onto ESA for a bit but that was met with disgust from the JC Advisor who pretty much said NO there and then.

    Another great phrase they use on people is “Why are you having so much trouble searching for jobs ? “, searching is easy, finding is harder but the way they word it gives them some ammo against you because if you respond in a way that agrees with what they just said you are pretty much shooting yourself in the foot. I make a point of correcting them every time they try this one.

    Over the last month i have also been told to lie on my CV to get jobs i am in no way qualified for. One job i was told to lie on my CV for involved having a portfolio of clients to take to the job advertised and the JC think you can blag this.

    There ultimate goal in life is to get everybody to sign off whether they have a job or not to go to. If only we could all do this as those dicks at the JC would be unemployed.


  36. Stanny

    Si – I can completely empathise with your postings, however I’m having to sign on every week and that’s enough for me. My ‘coach’ sat there and in some many words called me an irresponsible parent for moving house and leaving my child at the school she is finishing her last yr in!(so moving them just before the exams is the best thing then is it??)
    She also smirked when I broke down and patronisingly said ‘I don’t have tissues as I don’t cry’ then there was the argument about what the word disabled means, I have researched that this words not only covering obvious disabilities but also long term and life long conditions which only worsen and are incurable but no…..she disagrees!
    I have osteoarthritis in my facet joints in my spine and am on daily meds which try and help me manage the pain however I have never used this as an excuse to not work and have enjoyed a long career in retail commercial roles.

    She basically said I was talking out of my arse!

    Anyway the last kick to the crotch from my ‘coach’ was when she said ‘your so called hi earning,stressful job you must have had and your upset sat here with me!’and smiled and shook her head lol this woman was a true to life job centre asshat and I’m not sure exactly what constitutes a persona needed to be a successful ‘coach’ .
    As Si says – Annie really was wrong, I hate you tomorrow and if only we could all sign off and get jobs so those unhelpful moronics are all left on the dole just like us!!

    Have just received a letter telling me they won’t backdate my claim and that I have not contributed enough to be entitled lol so my 40% tax contributions ain’t enough?

    God help us!!


  37. R Skinner

    Does anyone have anything to say about Universal Credit,,has anyone been sanctioned yet??. I have,,this is makin me ill and ive had mental health problems and still worked part time. Now im thinkin why do i do it??,,im thinkin of going to my doctor and gettin signed off. I think a lot more people are going to be doing this. Thing is i could quite easily get signed off,,im makin myself suffer. Im just worried about gettin unknown s**t popping up somewhere i have not thought of. If your sick your sick i suppose. Someone nice have you any advice??.


  38. fiona

    I recently had cause to sign on and sat through a meeting with my appointed ‘advisor’. Throughout the meeting she hardly looked at me as her gaze was permanently glued to the computer screen. Her tone of voice was gruff, curt and aggressive. I had to make an excuse for her that she had had a bad working day. I asked her how much the Universal Jobmatch was, and she said abruptly “I don’ t know”. I replied “but er, you are supposed to be my advisor, aren’t you?” She said dismissively “that’s not my department”. And that was my first meeting with my job advisor! Two weeks later, I could see she was going to treat me like a piece of cellophane again, so I timed her for when she would actually speak to me from when I had sat down at the beginning-it was ten minutes! And even when she deigned to speak to me, she still didn’t look at me. I distracted myself with a piece of paper which had info on it about apprenticeships for 18-24 year olds, (I’m 50) and she momentarily looked away from the screen and to state the bleeding obvious that what I was reading was for 18-24 year olds! That’s it, I thought. I can’t give this woman another opportunity to do this to me. I told another advisor there that I wanted to change my advisor, and he said I would have to put it in writing to the manager-no name, just ‘The Manager, and why, so I did it there and then in the office while I was still angry and upset and it was still fresh in my mind. Well, two weeks later, I got a call from said (unwanted) advisor to say I had missed her appointment. I told her that I shouldn’t even be having an appointment with her because I’d asked for her NOT to be my advisor and I had been waiting for a reply to my request. She asked that I give her a third opportunity for us to have a different meeting. I said no. I told her that her age and having done this job for years, she shouldn’t need a third chance to be polite. Anyway, I went in to the job centre and although the manager still wasn’t in, I spoke to a deputy who claimed she hadn’t seen my letter. I had to explain my reasons and described both meetings, and thankfully, she agreed to change my advisor. I hadn’t meant for my message to be so long, but I just wanted to give a little bit of hope and courage to all those whose messages I’ve read on this site. My heart has gone out to them all. I’m going to sound ancient now, but I recall when jobs were put on cards on notice boards in the relevant fields of work, and you would take down the reference number and give it to a job ‘person’, and they would actually talk to you about what sort of work you had done, and if this would really interest you if you hadn’t done this sort of work before. Then they would phone the company there and then and arrange an interview for you. That’s how it should be done. We’re left to our own devices, and sometimes people either don’t have or can’t afford the internet or a computer or the libraries are closed. The jobsearch thing we have to go on to look for work tells them exactly what we’ve been doing to look for work. Like Big Brother. Oh well, let’s all try to keep each other’s spirits up. Thank you for the site.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s