Monday, 22 July 2013


There's a good chance that soon my life will change dramatically. At first it's a change I was angered by. Actually when I found out about it I went through all the stages of grief. Well actually I didn't go through bargaining but denial, anger, depression and finally acceptance were all in there. As most of you know by now I am on social benefits designed to help give people money to take care of themselves as they try and get a job. That may give you some indication as to what might happen. Part of the social benefits scheme I'm on, as I'm long term unemployed, is something called A4E and the work programme. I can not, and nor will I ever say, a nice thing about those things. Especially not the work programme. It's essentially slave labour, but with more of a pittance. What happens is that you do a full time job while receiving your benefits. It's all well and good to say that people should work for their benefits, I don't really have a problem with that. But when you work out how much they're paid in benefits compared to how much they're working, people are earning a wage that is effectively very, very, very little. I think it would work out at less than £1 an hour.

Well anyway, I'm not here to rant and bitch about that. As much as I do love ranting and bitching. The time before last that I was in the dreaded offices of A4E they signed me up to a pre-screening process for work in a foam factory. By the way it turns out that you CAN incorrectly stuff a pillow. They like to give you the illusion of choice but really you have two choices, you can do what they say, or you can have your money cut. So I had to go. When I was at the pre-screening process they gave people the chance to walk out if they didn't want to do the job and I took them up on that offer, just to be coerced into taking them up on their offer instead of being allowed to just walk out.

Long story short, I have a one day work trial coming up soon (hopefully when I get back from holiday, more on that later) and if it goes well, then I shall be offered full time employment. The shift hours are atrocious, but hopefully the days will be good and so will the pay. At first I was in denial, because I was told I would be allowed to turn it down and I don't like accepting change. Next came anger as I realised I never had a choice in the first place and I was being forced to do something I didn't want to do. There was no bargaining. Then came depression at the thought of everything I would lose as a result of this.

But then, in the end, came acceptance. No matter what the change is, if you give me enough time I can see positives to it. I'd have some money for a start. I'd probably be able to go to America to see a friend. I'd be more secure and able to write. There are very few writers, especially ones starting out like myself, who can write exclusively. This also isn't something I'm going to be stuck in. All in all it could be good for me.

Plus there's always the chance the work trial will go badly.


  1. A lot of people don't work exclusively in the fields that they want to. You just have to see it as a stepping stone. Having some money will help your social mobility. Experience in any work field is preferable to an employer than none at all, so this might help you get a better job further down the line. Just remember that it doesn't have to be forever.

  2. This is interesting stuff Mark, very similar to the path in life that I went on and while I hated it at the time I had the choice between working on a scheme for a wage or working on a scheme for next to nothing with Steps To Work and I made the former choice. I hope that things go well Mark, you've been working in your volunteering recently anyway so I have no worries about the social side to your work, plus gym will hopefully in theory be helping with your confidence and I also hope that you continue to go to gym. It's scary buddy but the way my life is now is something that I wouldn't change for love nor money and hopefully you feel the same in your experiences of the placement, best of luck buddy.

  3. >go to America

    Well, sounds like some steps in the right direction. Hope it isn't shitty-ass work, because that's never fun. You should at least be able to do it without getting depressed just by working there, otherwise it's not worth it.

  4. I hope your American dream comes true someday. I hate the job Im having now but the pay is good so Im still staying on that job when the right time comes I will quit and pursue my dreams..

    Changes are inevitable and sometimes we are left with no choice ...
    Just bear in mind everything happens for a reason and as you said who knows it might just turn out good!

    Stay positive,looking forward for more ranting :)

  5. I hope this goes well for you. The thing I don't like about these employment schemes is that it's free labour for the company. And some of those companies abuse the system and the employees.

    But this could be like Matthews experience and his turned out well. Fingers crossed.

  6. Hey, we can't write exclusively either. Writing is a nice extra chunk of change each month, but definitely not enough to live on. Not unless you're bestseller status. In the meanwhile, a job is a job and hopefully even if the hours are atrocious, you can get some decent pay for it!

  7. Come to America, Mark. Be warned, though. We have a lot of nuts here. But, there are people like me, as well.
    Oh. I just read that third sentence.

  8. Yeah, it's really difficult to get a job in your desired field. Hell, if I had known it was near impossible to get a writing job in America, I would've taken up a trade and did writing on the side (which I'm doing now, but with a job that's incredibly boring and lacking in wage). Most jobs ask for any type of past experience in the work force, so maybe spending about a year in a full-time position will open many more doors for you.

  9. I hear your pain, I haven't been on benefits long enough yet to have to suffer this.....yet!

  10. Some money is better than no money. I'm still looking for jobs, got turned down for 2 more of them but I'm still hunting.

    I really don't want to head back to classes in the fall.

  11. look at it this way, you are gaining life experience that you can use in your writing to give it could be fun you know...

  12. It is a stepping stone so step on it and continue to reach and climb those stairs to where you want to go

  13. Welp, if you have money, you could spend it on advertising for your book.

  14. I'm hoping your trip to America is fun-filled and gives you plenty to write about. I also hope the job they give you won't be as bad as you think. I'll keep my fingers and toes crossed for you!


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