Work in Progress: G4S & The Work Programme

So this morning I woke up at 9, struggled down stairs for the obligatory toilet dash. As I hadn’t slept so well last night and did too much yesterday I decided to treat myself to a lie in. It was about an hour later my phone decided to remind me I had to call Pertemps for a progress report.

For those of you who don’t know Pertemps PPDG (to give them their full title) is another tentacle of that hideous beast G4S with it’s tip in public administration.  Now I have been seeing them for almost 2 years, I have done some what can be best described as remedial personal development courses, seen various advisors, been talked out of applying for certain jobs, yet I still don’t even have a suitable CV that takes in my experience and explains the absences over the years due to either my mental or my physical health.

Before I continue to my point I will do what I divert for a wee moment and go back to the courses I was forced to do. If I refused I would have been sanctioned, something even now I wonder would have been better than what happened. If you don’t know much about my work and educational background I retrained and gained a second class honours degree in Social Policy in 2009. This opportunity came as I was recovering my last major breakdown whilst I was working within the software development world. After taking my Access course at my pace I was eventually all moved to York and ready to start the next phase in my life. Now although it took five years, which included a two year leave of absence as fall out from my childhood catching up with me I am bloody proud to have got my degree. So you can imagine the horror I was faced with when I took some literacy and numeracy tests of which I got three answers wrong in one and one answer wrong in the other. I was faced with being labelled illiterate and despite bringing evidence of my degree, my equivalent qualifications for English language that was part of my Access course and my GCSE certificates I was told they meant nothing. So I found myself on their development courses.

So this time last year as you can imagine I was fuming, sat in a classroom for 6 hours a day, my physical pain worsening from being sat upright for so long. Worse still my self confidence being eroded away. Each day I’d go in, blustered up feigning the way I was really feeling, because I refused to give them the satisfaction that they were grinding me away, making me feel even more worthless as a person and employment prospect. One of my biggest bugbears, considering I’d been judged with basic literacy skills I was perpetually being told to watch my language. Now as you know I do love a good swear, oh fuck do I, but it wasn’t that I was being warned about. No I was being chastised for using language too advanced for the group and that I should dumb down. I was incandescent with rage, how the fuck could me dumbing down be personal development? My argument was this course was a basic City & Guilds in personal development and I’m being asked  to dumb down. Now I got on with the other two group members who made it to the end, the way I saw it was if they didn’t understand something I said they could ask me. By asking me they gained confidence in asking for clarification, I developed my explaining skills and they learned a new word or two and I didn’t have to denigrate my education I worked so hard to get. In my mind even now, a year on, I still think that’s win-win.

As I mentioned earlier I still do not have a functioning cv, I believe that should be something they focussed on properly, instead of looking at barriers to work that didn’t exist, why not address the bigger picture. Help me look for something that won’t limit me with my physical condition nor something so simple it kills my self confidence even more. Why not help me focus and get my cv into a shape and prepare me for the realism that I need to explain gaps in work or education because of health problems. It shouldn’t be that difficult but then maybe it is much easier applying a one size fits all .

So here we are at the point that inspired me to write this. I phoned my advisor up as agreed and she was wanting to know what was happening. As I was briefing her it occurred to me, this is essentially and employment agency. What could they be doing with sensitive information regarding my health particularly my mental health problems and their causes. Here is a branch of an organisation slowly making sure it has fingers in all of public administration which has issues that are well documented. I therefore felt compelled to write to my advisor to seek clarification of their position with G4S and what information and safeguarding policies are in place. Maybe it’s paranoia, but I’m happy to share my experiences if it helps some who needs it, but I refuse point blank for information that is so sensitive.

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