Double Agent: A…lmost.

03 Feb

I’ve been a bit quiet on the WP front the past few weeks. I hadn’t forgotten about it, but there were a couple of quite interesting things that happened to me recently, all related to the WP and the Prime that has me on their books as a “Customer”.

Continuing to look for work since my last blog post, i noticed that my provider was recruiting Advisors for the local office (that i have to go to). Having worked in employability before and having seen the wealth of information about my provider over previous weeks, both good and bad, i thought “Why the hell not, at best i can change people’s lives or if things don’t go well, i can tell the world about how the machine is really run and maybe expose a few things here and there.” Even though i was applying to work for them, i still couldn’t get the complaints and bad experiences from “Customers” and actual staff out my head.

Needless to say, i was unsuccessful, i would like to give away what happened in the recruitment process, however i don’t want to give away which provider i’m with, lest all the other providers recruitment processes be entirely different, though the more prudent of you may have worked it out.

This is not a complete loss to me however, i am still privy to tit-bits of information from inside the provider (such as; currently my providers advisors have a case load of 15+ people to get through in a day and that morale and quality of service is at best, weak). I also get to experience the WP from a “Customer” point of view, something i have been both dreading and wanting to get my teeth into. And it is now official, i am a WP “Customer”, ticker tape parade anyone? No?

My first “Appointment”

I put “Appointment” in quotation marks like “Customer” because that’s not what it really was. I arrived twenty minutes early. Upon entering the office, i was greeted by a pleasant receptionist, i gave my name and signed in…i wasn’t on the list of appointments for that day. “Ok, it’s definitely today.” i said. “One minute, i’ll check the computer.”, I really cannot fault the receptionist, i was on the list on the computer, but not the print out, she apologised, even though i wasn’t offended and made sure i was on my advisors diary. This is where i noticed first red flag. She was the only receptionist on the desk, when she had left to check my advisors diary, the phone rang off the hook three times and the computer was unlocked. I actually felt sorry for her. She came back and said everything was sorted and to take a seat which i did, there was around 10 of us waiting. Taking in my surroundings, i noticed there was no clear indication as to where the toilets were and after a long bus ride and adventure trying to find the office, i was in need to spend a penny. However, not wanting to disturb the obviously busy receptionist, i suffered. Looking at the seating area, i saw there were three empty paper cups on the table next to me all of which had dried coffee residue in the bottom of them. I know from personal experience as a teen, cups don’t get sticky and shiny residue in the bottom within an hour. Also on the table, there sat a very sorry-looking local newspaper, which only advertises around 10 jobs per week and most as Avon Reps and BetterWare reps.

The reception area is cordoned off by a half wall, the office itself isn’t really that big and this is where red flag number two raised, sitting at the other end of the office was an advisor with his “Customer”, the office was fairly quiet, only the odd ring of a phone and advisors whispering to each other. So naturally, my ears sought out the loudest thing, which happened to be this “Customers” full name, address, mobile and telephone number, her date of birth and her career history, i presume they were creating a CV. Back when i was working with the public, we used to have quiet 1-to-1 rooms set up in which to discuss such matters. I began to get a little annoyed, however the arrival of my advisor quelled any action.

Red Flag Number Three
This bit gets its own title, simply because i had to laugh and shake my head.
My advisor turned up with a clipboard and a bunch of papers, my name was called, then someone else, then someone else, then someone else and then someone else. This, as it turned out, was not a one to one meeting as i had been lead to believe, but instead a group induction…something was up and i had a fair idea what it was. We were led to a meeting room just off the reception. On the table were envelopes and two sheets of paper, having done my research, i knew exactly what they were, the infamous “Data Consent Forms”, oh yes. Now these consent forms have had a fair bit of evolution since the early days of the WP. The forms themselves are not mandatory and no one ever has to sign them. People with their wits about them in the past realised this and refused to sign to share information. Then things got tougher, yet workarounds were always there. However, tactics seem to have changed somewhat in getting people to sign these forms, influenced (possibly) by the influx of new WP “Customers” advisors are now unable to hold one to one induction appointments with their “Customers” (I THINK), so group inductions have been created. Now, let me ask you a question.

If you were given an option of sitting one to one with an Advisor, would you refuse to sign the Data Consent forms?
Yes? No?

Now, if you were in a room full of strangers and told to sign these forms (never being told it’s completely optional), would you be confident enough to raise your voice and refuse to sign these forms? Yes? No? I’d wager for most of you, who have never had to deal with companies’ and practices like this, you’ll say no. Not a psychology major or anything, but even i know that when you’re out your comfort zone, you’re more submissive and more likely to follow the rest of the group. Not to mention we all seemed nervous and only i seemed to actually read the documents.

Well, i’ll admit, i’m not very confident and so succumbed to signing the forms, though being pro-active, i already have the letters sent off to get my privacy back. ( <– extremely helpful website in regards to all things Data Protection and what rights you have).

After we ALL signed the forms, we were told about what practices are used and workshops provided within the WP and your time on it (which is apparently Two years and not the Seven i was lead to beleive…oh, wait)

I'll leave it here for the time being, i may add more to it later as things come back to me.
Everyone, please, make a stand for your rights, the 99.9% of people on benefits, out of necessity and who don't abuse the system, do not be afraid to raise your voice, you shouldn't be humiliated, talked down to and suppressed by these people, the Benefits are a right, not a privilege, you should never have to feel less of a person simply because you've fallen on hard times, lets all come together and make our voices heard.

Double Agent: A…lmost

1 Comment

Posted by on February 3, 2012 in Work Programme


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