This morning I cycled across town and found a queue outside the building, one that went round the corner and all the way to the back of what is not a small building. Not just over a hundred people waiting there but they were already letting people in and there were groups of people standing around looking distinctly too cool to queue.
Slowly we worked our way round the corner to the front of the building and to the door.
I started taking pictures so I could blog the event but was then pounced on and asked to stop,
No photo’s, you can’t take peoples pictures without their permission.
Public event, backs of people’s heads.
No you can’t take pictures, why are you taking pictures?
I’m going to report on the event, put in on my blog.
Why, are you a reporter, who do you work for.
No one, I’m a blogger, a citizen reporter.
Oh well there’s no need for that, we spoke to the media about the event and sent them everything they needed, we did that already.
That’s fine but I’m reporting for myself and for the people attending, not the people running the event.
There’s no need, we represent these people and we sent the media details. What is your name?
The event was controlled, all attendees were cycled through two doors based on surname, I was in the A – L queue and a woman was ticking off people’s names as they went in but I was separately asked my name and when I answered my name was written on a clipboard that was held by the supervisor, I didn’t see her take anyone else’s names so I guess that’s me in trouble again for a bad attitude or some such.
What is it the government says, you have no need of secrecy unless you have something to hide.
Anyway the event was held in the local Mecca bingo hall so we were told to go in and find a seat, the place was filled with fixed tables and chairs and electronic bingo things. More people came in until there must have been 200 of us there.
Then someone said hello and welcome to Mecca Bingo, this lady told us a little about the wonderful jobs Mecca bingo had and how it was a wonderful place to work then she asked did we want to play a game of bingo before we started. A few said yes, most said no.
So she asked for a show of hands, who wants to play a game of bingo, the prize is a small box of chocolates (£2 for 2 from the supermarkets). Maybe 20 people put their hands up, 180 odd kept their hands down.
Right then let’s play bingo!
So she explained how to play and the caller started shouting numbers and colours and we sat through a game of bingo.
Finally that was done and someone got a box of chocolates.
Now lets play another game at normal speed this time.
We came here for a job fair, to meet a wide range of employers who had vacancies we could apply for, not to be trapped in a room playing bloody bingo.
IS IT TOO MUCH TO ASK THAT US UNEMPLOYED PEOPLE ARE TREATED WITH SOME
BLOODY RESPECT ! ! !
Finally that was done and we were told we could get up and talk to the recruiters. So off I went. I managed to go against the flow somewhat and started at the beginning just because I’m an awkward so and so but the hall was full of tables and chairs fixed in place, everyone was in the isles between the rows or round the edges meaning everywhere quickly became long queues while one person at a time got to speak to someone from the stand.
The first employer stand I got to was a charity called Workwise, nice people, helpful and happy to talk, did I need a CV, did I need help with applying for jobs, would I like to visit the church hall they use on Tuesdays and Thursdays and use a computer to get on line. They were a charity set up to help people look for jobs and offer advice to people who didn’t have a CV.
Then I came to Strode College, lots of training course, an exciting range of apprenticeships and they do adult training courses as well, nothing on line yet but I was told they were working to add on line courses and training in the near future.
The Prince’s trust, would I like to attend a four day course on becoming self employed, its free since they are dedicated to helping young people set themselves up in work. Yes that’s what he said, maybe it was because I was wearing a shirt. I did ask what his advice was in dealing with the change to self employment announced by Osbourne where you can fail to be classed as a viable business if you aren’t earning a 35 hour a week minimum wage income level, he didn’t know and couldn’t help through he was sure the Trust were looking into it.
Mind, the mental health charity. Here to tell people how important mental health in the workplace is, I spoke to the CEO briefly and mentioned that I thought given the event mental health of those NOT in the workplace was more important, well yes and that, I was told.
British Heart Foundation, a company I know locally, what are they looking for, a long list, office staff, sales team, customer support, warehouse, drivers, two sides of jobs. Great I said, are they part time or full time. Erm, what. Are they full time or part time, these are the jobs you’re recruiting for, what sort of hours are they. No, not jobs, these are all volunteer roles, we don’t have any vacancies.
The British Army. Being neither under 40 or anything anywhere near physically fit I walked past but given than more than half of the people in the room were over forty so did most everyone else.
Avon. The recruiters were noticeably NOT talking to men who waited nearby, only women, I spoke to several people who noticed this, maybe it was because we all had beards.
BY now I was causing all sorts of problems since I had gone round half the outside and was trying to move between the isles to get to the people there, this meant I was in the way of people who were trying to do the same and I take up a lot of space so I was spending more time bent into a chair space letting others go by than actually walking.
A Health care company, hello there, what sort of vacancies do you have since the sign was all about nursing homes and nothing about jobs. Qualified health carers for elderly sheltered housing and qualified nurses. Ah, do you have any other vacancies, no, well thanks for your time.
Another health company, nurses and carers, yes we have a supervisor roll that doesn’t require a medical qualification but we had so many applications already we aren’t taking any more CVs.
Another start your own business stand.
Oh look a become self employed stand though they at least had put some time and effort into it and had separate tables for a number of types of self employment.
Another company hiring nurses and carers.
A company training people to become nurses and carers, handy for all those who just spent the time going down the line and were unhappy with not being a trained carer.
Another company offering apprenticeships and training, they were busy talking to someone and though they glanced at me they ignored me after that. I did plan to go back but by the end just lost the will to live.
Boots, hey actual paying jobs. For six weeks over Christmas. Any actual long term jobs, well they were hiring several qualified staff for several local prescription desks, was I a qualified dispensing chemists assistant. I’m sorry no that’s not one of my many skills.
The range, the same people I was almost sanctioned for talking to last time, joined in to see what they were recruiting, ah, sales floor staff, exactly the same job I went to an interview for weeks ago, couldn’t do it then, still can’t.
Asda, recruiting? Any office based rolls, admin, tech support, non lifting or standing stuff. Ah that’s fine, sales floor staff and warehouse involving lots of lifting and standing. Sorry to bother you.
Another training group offering college courses to get me work ready.
Another company advertising it runs old people’s homes, hello are you looking for staff that aren’t carers or nurses, no, sorry to bother you.
Oh, a recruitment agency, Somerset’s biggest apparently, one bloke with a sign, no one talking to him and he was right at the back, someone else saw me looking and writing and said don’t bother mate their useless. Oh well.
I ran out of room after that and ended up being asked why I was there by a lady from the DWP, not the Jobcenter, she didn’t have a green lanyard, she had a proper official DWP identity badge. I said I was following the room round and ran out of stands, we chatted for a bit and she suggested I keep looking because there was lots to see.
I started to re walk the room in the opposite direction. By now there were as many people at the stands as people looking for jobs and the bingo customers were playing games at the tables, I met my old back to work advisor who was a little less than impressed along with several others I knew. Several had signed on that morning and been sent to the event without having a clue what it was and were now wandering round trying to find out what was supposed to happen.
Others I waved to or said hello in passing had been and gone already, the place was emptying fast.
I didn’t take any photo’s, call me chicken but the Job Centre has tried to sanction me for not being willing or enthusiastic already this year, getting thrown out of a job fair for trying to take a picture probably gets classed as not being willing or some such. But I reckon 200 people most of whom stayed for the two bingo games and were gone within half an hour, by the time I left an hour and a half after the event started there were maybe 30 or 40 people left.
I spoke to some nice people, helpful people, a number of companies and agencies and organisations, but for a jobs fair the number of actual jobs that weren’t nursing or caring or lifting was, the army. Which I’m too old and too fat for.
I attend these events because somewhere, somewhen, they could be helpful, because there are jobs out there.
I attend because it’s implied you don’t attend you aren’t trying and not trying gets you sanctioned.
But please for the love of whatever imaginary being you may or may not believe in, the unemployed and the jobseekers want help, we want respect and we want jobs, we don’t want to be treated to team building games and stupidity, we don’t want people offering everything other than jobs.
We want jobs, not bingo games, could we have some help with the former, not the later.