A month into a month off-housing

Whilst in this very strange and unexpected life change I thought I’d blog for the following reasons;

*The encounters I am having are ridiculous and worth sharing

* It’s a scary time and it helps to vent

* I want to help others through the experience

* I believe it will help me to find the the job of my dreams

Today, feeling slightly worse for wear from last nights ‘Summer Party’ in Oxford Circus (it’s amazing I got an invite considering I left in June) I gulped down some breakfast and jumped on the bike to make it in time for the my 9.30am computer session at my local library.  Little did I know there would be a hustle and a scramble to get in as soon as the doors open, the things I do to print a document.  The document in question being 24 pages long, costing £3.90 and the super jazzy machine did not accept my fiver, “Oh what!” I exclaimed under my breath as a rather handsome Sloany looking man stepped forward for his turn.  I wondered what he was printing, probably not a housing benefit claim form.    I had to run across the road to grudgingly withdraw another £10 and ask the librarian to change it, to which she replied “Why?”.

Doors open 9.30!Doors open 9.30!

Back in the computer section I heard one poor panic stricken woman ask the IT support lady for help with her library PC log in details as she desperately needed to print her CV before an interview.  The IT lady regrettably could not provide her with these.  I wondered what everyone else was busy doing. I logged out of the computer and moved to a large empty, wooden table in the ‘politics’ section of the library to set about competing the form.  This time I was relieved not to feel itchy from the fuzzy and stained computer seat, maybe I had just eaten too many dates that day.  The complexity of the form bothered me,  I can’t remember the exact date I moved into the property and I was reluctant to bring my housemates into the equation.  Thankfully the form stated I did not need to.  Then followed questions about bank accounts, I assumed that included savings.   If they are all with the same bank are you supposed to list them all?  I have online statements, but not for all of them.  Do they even need to know about a pound here and there?  I best just close them.  My landlord is technically the agent as its owned by an organisation, I hope I made that clear, I do not have the ‘landlords address’.  How much rent do we pay, well am I supposed to put the total amount paid, or just the part I pay? Content with my sense of completion I pop the form in my bag confident in the belief I’ll be able to check the accuracy of my entries when I get to the civic centre, I jump on the bus.

On arrival at the massively open building I have no idea where to go or what to do.  To my left are a bunch of booths containing various titled placards; ‘housing benefit’, ‘council tax’, ‘new claims’.  Do I go straight there?  No, the sign above says ‘go to reception’ in a number of languages.  Electronic displays project numbers, where do I get a ticket? A lady on the desk must have spotted my confusion and asks if she can help.  “I’m here to make a new housing benefit claim as my first one was never received” I explain.  After telling her that yes, I had completed the forms, I was stopped in my tracks when she said; “We don’t offer a face to face service anymore, so you just need to photocopy all your documents over there, place it all in the envelope provided and drop it all in the box”.  I thanked her as I processed the utterly disappointing information and made my way over.  What if I have completed this form inaccurately or if I’m missing a vital piece of documentation?  What is the turn around time?! How on earth do other people do this for the first time?  How would you manage if English isn’t your first language or if it you find it difficult to comprehend.  I didn’t know how to use the machine to start photocopying.   ‘Place card here to activate the copier’.  Card? ‘I can’t believe I’m being charged again!’ I think to myself as I whip out my credit card this time.  Nothing happens.  I feel embarrassed now, I honestly am stuck and feel quite alone, there is no one about to help, and the lady behind me is promoting the recycling scheme for the borough.  I queue up back at the main desk, the young girl in her twenties smiles understandingly at me again as she explains the ‘card’ is hanging on a chain underneath.

What a morning.  I wonder what happens next, there were around 4 other claims envelopes when I peeked into the box so hopefully I will hear along with the other four people soon.  I hope they were able to find all the necessary documents and complete the form correctly, were their original claims also ‘lost?’ “Unfortunately this does happen from time to time” I was told when I called up. I  got a bit upset thinking about all this on the bus ride home whilst clasping the carrots I refused to purchase an extra bag for, It’s not a fun place to be.

https://www.gov.uk/housing-benefit/how-to-claim

My friends and family are being extremely supportive as I go about my quest to find the RIGHT job, one where I feel happy and fulfilled, one where I can grown and develop.  Although I am dedicated to this ambition, I feel the constant pressure to just take ‘any’ job in order to unburden the state and myself.  However, I am sticking by my outlandish decision, as deep down I know I could risk finding myself in the very same position again a year or so down the line.  My instinct was further confirmed through my contact at the National Career Service who helped me to see my career path and prospects in whole new light;

https://nationalcareersservice.direct.gov.uk/Pages/Home.aspx

I just wish I had known about this a very long time ago.  The free advice and access to the skills test was extremely helpful and will now save me a lot of time when I look for jobs as well as updating the various CVs accordingly.  As I’m looking at potentially changing my whole career direction completely this meeting was like a breath of fresh air and just like my experience completing the housing benefit claim form I honestly hope other people in my position also know about this service, ideally long before they have to visit the Job Centre.

Right, I’m off to compare more job profiles to add to the list of things I REALLY want in a job and in a working environment, time is ticking!!