The last thing I wrote on my blog was about managing my brain injury and trying to be able to cope with work. I have been doing voluntary work at a university to try and build myself up in a busy working environment.
Having not been in work for such a long time I don't have a very good medical history and I do not have a lot of experience in the workplace. I do look at jobs in the paper and on the net but with not a lot of work history my chances of getting a job are very slim.
Just recently where I do my voluntary work I felt that I have been taken advantage of and I have been having too much work to do, ie people in where I work have left and not been replaced and I have been doing virtually two peoples jobs and then being asked to take on other things as well.
Last week I asked if I could start work half an hour earlier so I could help get things ready and get started a bit earlier and perhaps finish earlier. I came into work on Monday morning and instead of my co-worker working together with me she did the work she needed to do and left me with everything else. I wasn't expecting that. What happened to working as a team?
At about 9.00am she came out with "well if you had come in at 9.00 like before everything would have been ready and you could have started", with the tone of her voice saying I told you so.
Not deterred by this I went off and did some of the jobs I normally do and then a bit later I saw my supervisor and explained what had happened. I said that I was doing too much work and it needed to be cut down. I said that I felt that I was just an unpaid skivvie and I must be a mug for doing this. I can't recall everything she said but she did day something like "We try to support you but one week you are alright, one week you are not, one week you are bored and you need another challenge".
I had done some of my work and went back to where the co-worker was and I was trying to explain that I was having to do more work and having less time to do it in. My co-worker said " Well I have been doing that and I have been working for 30 years. I have done all these things to help you in the past to make it easy for you, now that you had taken on so much [even though I had been asked to do these jobs by the supervisor] and now you are complaining about it. I found this quite patronising and despite the fact that I had been helping her and all for nothing, what did she want me to do give her a medal or something?.
I had enquired with my supervisor previously whether it would be possible if the work I do considering the amount of work I was doing could do turned into a proper job and I could get off benefits. I have said many times that I am sick of being on IB and want to get some sort of proper job. I have been reading some info from benefits & work recently about voluntary work and I think I have not been doing voluntary work but actually unpaid work.
I had also been told that the employer wanted to look after me so to protect my benefits and they didn't want me to be worse off, ie the employer could not match what I get on IB. It was explained to me that there was nothing in the current years budget and I would have to wait until they find out the next budget for the department. I had compared what I get on IB and what figure they were talking about what I could possibly earned but it wasn't that far away to be impossible.
Quite a lot of the time I have also been rather worried about being transferred to either ESA or JSA so in this eventuality they said that there was something in place in case this happened. So I carried on doing my work for nothing while taking on more work in the process. However this was beginning to have a negative effect on my health ie not having time to have a sufficient break or even lunch [I don't recall having many proper breaks] and I was then coming back from work exhausted and having to sleep 2-3 hours to recover.
Then just to add the icing on the cake I found out later in the day that the thing that was in place in the eventuality of being kicked off IB was no longer in place as they could not afford it and had not been in place for a while. its just nobody thought of telling me and this was all while I still working for nothing. I might have well of just had the word mug tattooed on my forehead.
I made my mind up very quickly that this wasn't for me any more and a change of scenery would be required.
There are some volunteers who do a fantastic job and are very much appreciated but there are some who are just used in the place of actual paid employees.
At least I can be positive and say I have now have some work history in a busy working environment. Does voluntary work and the then therapeutic work count for anything on a CV these days? I am no nearer to a job now as I was when I first got the placement from Rehab UK via the DEA. Sad but true. Back to square one again and the isolated world of Incapacity Benefit. What's next?