Not a proper article per se, I just wanted to say that I have finally reached that stage of unemployment-whilst-on-sickness-benefits that requires me to attend the Work Programme. According to gov.uk, “This provides support, work experience and training for up to 2 years to help people find and stay in work.”
As I’ve mentioned before, I am currently well, which is something that causes me some guilt when I reflect that I am on Employment and Support Allowance (for those with no or limited capacity to work). I know that if I were assessed right now I would be denied ESA, as indeed I was the first time around, and which I then successfully appealed (see here and here)
Should I be off work? I can work, I certainly believe that – but I agree with the assessors that I am limited in what I can and cannot do. For example, although I desperately wanted to succeed, I found that working as a Healthcare Assistant was very bad for my mental health. I also find that an unsupportive environment, an environment where I am expected to fly by the seat of my pants instead of being slowly, thoroughly trained, is also likely to cause a problem for me. At my last meeting with my CPN she also suggested that I try to find a job which is mentally/intellectually stimulating (in other words, an interesting job) although I think it is unlikely I will find one.
In terms of employment, it is not only that I am limited but also that I look like the most appalling candidate. I have had six out of the last ten years off sick. I have been off ill for months on end from every job I have ever had bar one. I have not worked for the past two and a half years, and been on sickness benefits all that time. I am medically unable to drive (and live in a rural area).
Who is likely to want to employ me?
I also have too much education (that MA in Divinity really holds me back from lots of jobs) and too little specialist skills/training.
Long term – as I have mentioned before, I think, I would like to go into full-time Christian work of some sort, and most especially, I would like to be a priest. I hope/think/maybe have a calling, I cannot say for certain. I have spoken to my vicar about it and I am waiting for whatever happens next. I know it will be years before I might be accepted, so I need something in the meantime.
I worry that the people on the Work Programme will require me to apply for jobs that will make me ill – I also worry that if I am ill, then my vicar might take one look and say that I am not stable enough for the priesthood either. I also worry that if I do not work, then he might say that I am not assertive enough/lazy/too sick/why should they take me on if no one else wants me?
So you see I am worrying, and I know that I shouldn’t, because worrying makes me ill, and I desperately don’t want to be ill again. I see them tomorrow at 9am, and I really hope that they offer me useful advice, and maybe suggestions as to training/a trade/finance so I can do something else, and are not as horrible as the people I met on similar schemes when I lived in London were.
So what I would really like to ask is that those readers who are Christian, would you consider praying that I am able to find help from the Work Programme, and that I may find employment which does not make me ill?
- Five things the government won’t tell you about Workfare (leftfootforward.org)
- Work programme under fire again – Confused.com (confused.com)
- Homebase criticised over work experience claims (guardian.co.uk)
- The Work Programme Briefing By The Gov (ukgovernmentwatch.wordpress.com)
- The poetry of struggle (morningstaronline.co.uk)