Thursday, October 30, 2008

A4e Worse Experience for unemployed as seen on TV

Today I had a brand new experience, which for a guy of 53 with my already extraordinary lifestyle was pretty dam exciting ;)

If it were not just a little bit scary.

I have been fortunate enough to try the governments latest strategy in preventing the pain of mass unemployment as it privatises the old "Ministry of Labour".
A4e a £120m, 2500-strong, global private sector organisation the UK's largest provider under the Jobcentre Plus / New Deal brand, A4e deliver employment training to over 60,000 people every year paid for by the Department for Works and Pensions. ( ). Located in the old South Wales Argus print halls off Newport High Street.
Day one got off to a bumpy start, twice as many Jobcentre Plus customers had been signed up than were expected so were left sitting in an icy cold room with a noticeable wind chill factor until mid morning while photo copiers were set in motion and decisions were taken about how to carve us up, by mid morning the Victor Meldrew in me could contain itself no more, I piped up and askd if we could actually get on with it?, please.

The temperature dropped in the already ice cold room and the pain in my TB scared testical throbbed with a gut wrenching ache, normally just a reliable barometer that snow was on its way.

I was hauled out of the room and made to feel like a naughty primary child being made an example of in front of the class and I was marched to head mistress office and demanded I tell them who my Jobcentre Plus Advisor was and added that they had some power to stop my benefits and housing support and everything! - Suddenly it dawns on me these jokers are for real.
I was sent back to the group and when she finally returned I'm informed I'm to go with her to the Headmistress - . So I unreservedly apologised for any upset I may have caused her by implying she was disorganised or poorly trained.
Off With His Head! she yelled! - at least that what I swear to my dying day is what I heard, (National Health
Hearing Aids should be considered a crime against humanity). But no, he should be struck off she was demanding, I should be sent back to Jobcentre Plus be punished she insisted, at that moment I looked down
into my lap and saw the funny side - In my lap was a paperback of WICKED I just picked up at the - and of course looked up at my nemesis.
Happy days we all kissed and made up and it was decided by the very wise headmistress that I was to be shuffled off to a delightful and bubbly A4E employee on the floor above.
At Last the school bell went off and everyone scrambled for the doors like it was the last day of term, I stayed behind for a while to say hi to my new mentor and guide for the next 16 weeks.
Well thats the plan but only if my two minor surgical procedures scheduled for the next two weeks don't keep me away for more than a week or the whole scene shimmers to a freeze frame and your suddenly propelled back at to GO! - do not collect £200. You are automatically signed off.
You are now newly unemployed and start the whole process again.

Thankfully Newport Jobcentre Plus are becoming a little more deafness aware and don't force me to use the telephone booking system and were able to get me back onto benifits quite quickly even if I did loose sight of my poor employment advisor under a mountain of paperwork it caused.

Infuriatingly it costs Newport City Council a fortune in labour and administration costs to stop any housing
benefits only to have to start them all over again the very next day. I suspect that office is staffed by a white rabbit running around looking at his watch yelling I'm Late I'm Late!
I really don't know if my anti-depressants are going to hold If I got to do an induction week a third time.

Suddenly the words LOCKDOWN filtered through my hearing
aids and a vision of storm troopers flashed through my mind as those of us stragglers were told that "we could not leave the building until searched by police". At this stage I am half expecting a third rate reality TV film crew to burst in and say how hilarious we have all been.
We were left to ponder our fate, a fellow prisoner and I checked that the emergency exits were unlocked in case of an armed or violent incident and waited anxiously for news.
It transpired that an A4e client 2 floors down was suspected of dealing drugs and a Lockdown is a state temporary imprisonment until cleared by police often using sniffer dogs.
There were no sniffer dogs present today, indeed I did not see any police presence in my part of the building when we were released.

Thursday we are all prepared, snow gear, gloves carves and 3 layers of underwear keeps the frostbite out but sadly our Health and Safety lecturer was snowed in so we had a movie and general knowledge quiz to distract us from staring through the frosted windows at the staff huddled around a fan heater.

My own fairy god mother appeared to tell me I am going to the ball - so its Cinderella Time for me as I get a placement at the Riverside Theatre until January. I don't know what job they have in mind but I will pack my wellys and grab my mop bucket just in case.

I would welcome your thoughts if you had been as fortunate as I have been today.

Kind regards



“You certainly have an exciting life!”

It all appaers to have ended well.

Very best wishes,
Paul Flynn MP House of Commons London SW1A OAA

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Welcome Home Mandy - We missed you

Peter Mandelson - Aside of the fact he looks a real dweeb, he attracts controversy like flys to shit, he sounds like a queen, has had more comebacks than Tina Turner, he does have one of the sharpest political minds in Britain today. It is great to see him back - The potential depression ahead needs his experience, with our European partners and he knows personally every world leader, ministers of trade and finance - name a single tory that comes close?  
Now if Gordon Brown would just phone Ken Livingstone and give him something like Transport people would remember the Gordon Brown era as a Labour Golden Age.


Tribute to Sylvester - By the time Sylvester died on December 16, 1988 of AIDS-related complications, he had firmly cemented his reputation as one of the most original and talented musicians to come out of the disco arena. While Sylvester represented to mainstream America the Black and gay cultural origins of disco music, his body of work included not only crucial contributions to the disco songbook, but also ballads that proved he was a versatile stylist who brought a realness and depth to all his material.