A4E – More from the poverty pimps

Following up from this story about new Labour luvvies Action 4 Employment and their campaign to re-invent bonded labour we received another account from a client of A4E which is well worth a read.

“I have been a client of A4e and was appalled by how I was treated.
I will start by telling you a little of my background. I had hit rock bottom in my life, lost my job and was living in a hostel with a lot of debt and was trying to rebuild everything I’d lost. I was waiting to start university and had already been accepted. Because of the situation I was in at the time I could not afford to take a minimum wage job and was waiting for council housing to become available. I was in a supported hostel for young girls and if you start work while living there the weekly rent is extortionate.

Regardless of my personal circumstances I was forced to go to A4e and told I would lose my benefits if I didn’t attend. I already had low self esteem because I hadn’t been working for the previous 6 months and had tried to get a job that would cover all of my bills. I had even voluntarily taken up typing courses and had got my level 3 qualifications in the hope that I could get a job that paid enough. I was also waiting to start voluntary work at citizen advice but I couldn’t start there because of attending A4e.

My jobcentre advisor was very sympathetic because she could see that I was trying so hard and didn’t seem to be getting anywhere and she even tried to put off A4e as long as possible as she knew I’d been accepted into university and it was only a matter of weeks until I started.

Finally my first day arrived at A4e and I felt pretty confident that these people are here to help me find work and that they would support me into a job. I was so wrong, from the moment I stepped through the door on the Monday I felt trapped.

After the first day induction we moved onto CV writing and cover letter writing, when the tutor told us that we had to write a CV and cover letter I approached her to let her know that I already had a cover letter for every occasion and an up to date well written CV (which everyone whom I have shown it to has commented that it is the best CV they’ve seen), so I asked if I was able to do some job search and was told that I wasn’t allowed to as it was a structured timetable (Even though job search was after all the main reason I was supposed to be there).

So after sitting bored out of my head for the most of the day I was then told that I had to sign a piece of paper saying that they’d helped me produce my well written CV and cover letter, even though they hadn’t which really disgusted me (the tutor wasn’t able to write a CV as well as the CV I had produced but would still take all the credit and tick the boxes that would eventually go towards there statistics). This piece of paper was then sent along with my CV and one of my many cover letters to my jobcentre advisor.

Most days would consist of job search all day; there were only 3 or 4 computers in the room between about 20 people and a couple of newspapers to share. Every now and again they would make you do something like a presentation or play a game and when I asked to not participate but instead continue job searching in a different room where I could have peace and quiet I was told that I had to participate.

Throughout the whole experience I had to put up with other clients of A4e being rude, disruptive and swearing without any reprimand. I explained on more than one occasion my personal situation and that I could only accept a job that was over minimum wage (I wasn’t being unreasonable as I had the qualifications and experience to get a admin job that paid a lot more than minimum wage).

When they kept trying to offer me jobs that I simply could not take I eventually broke down and I told my tutor I couldn’t handle it anymore I was sent to see a guy upstairs that was meant to help with any personal issues I might have. He started off by telling me that not even his own boss would know what we had discussed in that room and that his boss didn’t even know what was discussed with clients.

After discussing my circumstances yet again I was told that I should go into private rented accommodation so I could get a job now. They didn’t take into account that I had been advised by my key worker (at the hostel) that to move into private rented accommodation at this time would have been detrimental to my life and that I would have probably have ended up back in the hostel and that I needed a secure and safe environment because I was feeling very vulnerable at the time.

He also told me that he didn’t think university was a good idea for me as I obviously wasn’t stable (as I kept on getting upset because I was never listened to and was hating my experience at A4e) I was also told that I should really try to find work fast as if I had to come back to the 13 week course I wouldn’t handle it and he then went on to tell me of fully grown men that broke down because they could not handle that course (I really felt I was being bullied into accepting any job).

After he had asked me whether I felt I was vulnerable and I had replied yes, he continued to make jokes saying I could come and live with him and that he could be my sugar daddy and that he had a big house and plenty of room. I felt very vulnerable then, I had stayed late to have this chat and there was only a couple of people still in the building and none were we were sat in his tiny office which was literally a cupboard. Previous to him being very unprofessional, I had told him that I used to attend a mental health clinic as I had previously had depression through everything going down hill in my life around that time and he continued to tell me that he had worked at the same clinic but had been sacked and that the claims someone had made against him had been false and that he knew he was in the right. This made me think that he may have been over nice to other vulnerable girls in the past and been sacked because someone had told their story, if this was the case what was A4e doing employing someone to work with vulnerable people again on a one to one basis in a tiny room and why was he given a role in a company where he didn’t have to disclose anything he’d discussed in that room.

I was pretty freaked out when I left and felt that I couldn’t say anything to anyone at A4e as anything I said seemed to come back really badly against me. I really wanted to say something to protect other young vulnerable girls from his passes. He was very unprofessional that day, I couldn’t tell you whether that is just who he is or whether he was some sort of pervert but he really shouldn’t be saying anything like what he did.

After he had shattered my hope for university I went back to see my key worker very upset and told her what had happened, she reassured me once again that I was very bright and I could achieve anything that I wanted to in life and not to listen to other people.

I went back to A4e the next day and yet again got uncontrollably upset as I was dealing with a lot of things happening in my home life, I was sent to some sort of manager in a main office area with loads of other people there and this woman told me that I should go onto anti depressants and that would be the only way that I wouldn’t have to attend A4e anymore – who the hell did she think she was, making me feel so small in front of everyone. After all, all I needed to feel fine again was a stable home environment just like every other human being, to feel safe and secure is the most important thing in anyone’s life.

Apparently you either fit into one box or the other when your feeling low because of life events, you either have to have depression or you are fit and well but in an environment like the one they put people in to, a whole lot of people would have low self esteem and not be feeling at their best.

Now I am currently on a social work degree and doing very well for myself but only because of the total support I received in the hostel. A4e obviously aims to get people into work without helping with any obstacles standing in a client’s way. As long as they get their statistics to say that so many people have been introduced back into work then the government will feel that they have achieved what they need to!!!

A4e also offer incentives for people who get a job, if a person manages to gain employment while they are at A4e they put you into a draw to win some money, this once again shows that A4e are just out to get people into work regardless of whether they feel it is the right job for them or whether they think they can even stick at it.

Cutting funding for citizen advice is the worst thing this government has ever done, CAB aren’t just about helping people back into work but breaking down the barriers in clients lives to ensure that they feel able to work and I would put money on it that citizen advice enables more people to keep a job longer and promote people working more than any other employment service.

There are no such thing as lazy people who don’t want to work but there are plenty of people who haven’t been shown that working is a good way of life or that have no way of breaking down the barriers in their lives that stop them from working. Self esteem plays a big part in any person wanting to maintain a job and when people have been out of work for so long without any real support from the jobcentre they may not have any self esteem left. So what the hell do they think they are doing putting people into a stressful situation and trying to force people to accept any work available? They are abusing their power and probably making peoples lives a whole lot worse in the long run. I wonder how many people have walked out and lost their money/homes/lives through this abuse of power.

Since leaving A4e I have received numerous letters asking me to fill out a questionnaire about what I thought of the A4e course, the only problem is that this isn’t an anonymous questionnaire; it has all of your personal details printed on the front. Yet again an abuse of their power, I felt that I wasn’t able to answer this truthfully incase one day I ended up back on the course (I am sure a lot of client’s of A4e must feel the same way), as I felt this strongly about how this information would be used I failed to fill it in and eventually they stopped sending me the questionnaire.”

35 responses to “A4E – More from the poverty pimps

  1. A vivid account of life at A4e. But the government is determined to press ahead with new contracts. Even if A4e lose out to new providers like Serco, the situation will be much the same. The more we can publicise all this, the better. See www/freewebs.com/watchinga4e

  2. Just dropping by.Btw, you website have great content!

    THIS IS A DREAM JOB! No gimmicks. No catch. Work from home whenever you want!

  3. Hiya. Can we republish this with a link to you post?

  4. – sorry, I thought a link to our site would appear automatically under my handle. It is http://thecommune.wordpress.com/

  5. Pingback: A4E to claimant: “get a job” « Edinburgh Anarchists

  6. I live near one of their facilities; I can’t say I’ve noticed much of interest, except that some of their “clients” are improving their chances of employment by taking a regular cider break outside.

  7. A4E are scum, but that report seems to be typed up by some little middle-class kiddy, and consists of nothing but “look how good my CV is, look how birhgt I am, I’m much better than you dole scum”.

  8. that last comment is total bullshit. like working class people can’t aspire to go to university, get depressed by shit surroundings, or feel intimidated by aggressive behaviour by others? What prolier-than-thou bullshit.

    Good on whoever wrote the original thing; well done for getting through what you have done!

  9. This is a good and open hearted story . At UserWatch we are picking up stories affecting mental health Users lives and the so called providers of social inclusion through work have some very questionable practices indeed .. IT IS UP TO EVERYONE to use the net to expose these part piranha operations …. There is some nasty stuff happening .. Well done for this post ..

  10. This is fraud without a doubt. I am investigating an estimated £10 billion New Deal fraud and would like you to email me. This includes the provider a4e who you know is the biggest and also in addition the Human Right issues with unemployed people being mistreated. This is a HUGE national wide problem with numerous prime contractors and sub-contractors taking part. I need all the information you have please including eye witness statements. Thanks.

  11. Dan, it’s already being done. Why not collaborate? The website is http://www.freewebs.com/watchinga4e

  12. I worked for them for a while, what a bunch of parasites, shit courses, shit wages, shit shit shit!

  13. Pingback: New Deal Complaint of A4e 'Sugar Daddy' employee targets vulnerable in-debt client

  14. Pingback: A4e – War Criminals, Fraudsters and Bullies « the void

  15. Pingback: A4e – War Criminals, Fraudsters and Bullies: « project-sheffield

  16. Pingback: A4e Internet Censorship – Call For Support « the void

  17. I went on a similar course a couple of years back and I see many similarities with your experience., although A4E sounds a lot, lot worse!
    The purpose of the ‘training course’ in’st to train you. It serves 2 purposes.

    1. While on it, you are not considered unemployed (government technicality). This means the governemnt can fudge the figures and say that unemployment numbers are down.

    2. They make you so bored and patronise you so much that you take any job just to get away from it. This again serves to keep unemployment numbers down and makes the government look good in the public eye.

  18. Pauline Campbell from The League Of Gentlemen is alive and well with A4E.

    Great story and I hope more people continue to expose the bullying nasty private companies who are hired by the government to attack the unemployed and disabled.

  19. Pingback: The Burden « Earwicga

  20. A4e should have been kicked out of Edinburgh after they failed to get the FND contract. And now Glasgow based Wise Group (one of two contract winners along with Ingeus) have sub-contracted A4e to run FND in Edinburgh.

  21. I am on a work placement via a4e and i have a compulsory 4 week stint for 30hrs a week at currys and i only receive my normal £64.30 a week jsa well training allowance for statistic purposes.

    The manager at currys told me there is no job at the end of the 4 weeks, all i can expect is another entry to add onto my cv and a more upto date reference, with the slight possibility if i do a good enough job my name will go onto their talent bank register and if a vacancy comes up in the future i may get a call from them.

    Basically this is nothing than slave labour, bet currys are loving a4e, staff the store and pay nothing, i am expected to work like a full time employee, well if they want that then i want paying like a full time employee.

    I have worked in the past and have good sales skills, i went on the shop floor after 12 months of being unemployed but i was dealing with customer queries and achieving quite a healthy amount of sales, so what am i learning tbh nothing apart from new products.

    The government shoudl be ashamed how come people from another country can obtain benefits which amount to more than the likes of us who were born and have contributed to the government in paying taxes and national insurance.

    A4E is simply a joke, i am putting a formal complaint to the DSS as they put me there, if i wanted to work for nothing i would have committed a criminal offence and been given commnity service, maybe that’s what a4e should call it.

    a4e sucks i bet none of the advisors there would be willing to work 4 weeks 30 hrs a week for £64.30, so why to they expect us to.

  22. Totally agree . This whole approach is just wrong wrong wrong.

    a4e tried to open up an ILA for me on my first meeting with them and got quite offended and confused when i explained i already had an ILA and it has been used and not renewable until Oct

  23. I can really sympathise with you. My a4e In dudley west midlands is well to say the least unsatisfactory and verydepressing.

  24. Hi,
    I have been on my first meeting yesterday and have been suffering from a moral hangover ever since.
    There have been some extreme cases of drug abuse addicts in my group, all covered in tatoos and although i usually do not mind the folk for example during the art previews as they can than create an aura of decadence ( i am an artist/painter with a postgrad degree who recently had to sell her home due to long family saga and being heavily caught up in the recession) i had found their behaviour very disruptive especially when they were deliberately arguing btw issues of diversity and race . It was very emotive subject to me and i wished all the time that the discussion would just stop, but the group leader kept banging on how she hates being compared to the people from Nigeria offering big lottery wins while one of the addicts , obviously some white suprematist kept winding her up. It was just awful. I than was told to change my caseworker twice and to answer 107 profiling questions which were extremely intrusive. One of them was: “Are you ready for deep, longlasting relationship?” and there has been a choice of 5 answers from Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree. I got very exasperated because of this question because i had suffered from sexual harrassment in my previous job as an art teacher. What does my personal like have to do with my employment? This should not be their business what kind of relationship, if any, i would like to have right now!! I got so angry i think i clicked Strongly Disagree button. It was a truly disgusting!!

  25. Pingback: Employment Support Allowance stopped - The Consumer Forums

  26. Edinburgh Scotland

    A4e Edinburgh Scotland
    its alot of shit and a wast of time
    what do polish people know about our country scotland and about our scottish jobs
    in edinburgh at A4e is a polish lady worker Anna she thinks she is scottish sorry not
    and thinks she knows it all about scotland
    and its jobs she forgets in her own country poland thay have know jobs going and very poor and thay are all over here from poland taking our scottish jobs and the rest also its funny telling us what to do when she forgets where she is from that is Anna A4e Edinburgh send them all back home to poland

  27. A4e Edinburgh

    speak for yourself you big dickhead
    get a life get a job you must have been at a4e to get your cv done for you to start school again you wee kid and been on the dole also or you would not of been looking up this website so you are a wanker scum so speak for yourself you junkie

  28. Pingback: IDS’ Same Old Deal on Benefit Reform Will Punish The Sick | the void

  29. Is there anyone no’s to avoid going on the 13 week course. I was on the two week course about a year ago and have since done temporay full time work that ended after 3 months (I would take any brake). I then got a part time job that amounts to about 10 hours a week (not enough) so i sighned on again as i was allowed a small amount of jobseekers to help with the grocerys. I am doing EVERYTHING i can to get a job im sepending most of the week when not doing part time work going up and down the country going to any interview i can. Guese what those snotty pricks who set on there fat asses all day and look down upon me for being lazy are sending me on the 13 week course. I cant handle this shit last time i was there i realy felt bullied and patronised in a way i have not exprenced since primary school the tutor would even boost as too how much money he had. THIS IS SHIT IM A PERSON I HAVE RIGHTS AND ONE OF THEM IS TO NOT BE TREATED LIKE A LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER HOUSE.

  30. Matt: Short of signing off you stand little chance of avoiding one or other of these job programs. If it’s any consolation, your not the only one

  31. Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty (ECAP) have won a significant victory for the unemployed in the war against New Deal provider A4e, thanks to the courageous stand taken by one brave unemployed ex-miner, who despite threats and benefit suspension stood up to A4e for over a year!

  32. I am felling the same about this course just started on monday the 14th november and I am sat with nothing to do at this moment in there lesson and I been told my cv is crap and I need to rewrite it and they have not even seen it. The tutor is patronising and unprofessional I am considering quitting this course my job centre rep name is lek sent me hear along with 5 others and we all feel the same I’m gonna raise hell in this place for wasting my time I came to do the SIA course and was told there is not enough people to do it so I don’t no why I am hear

  33. A4e now have claimants for *2* years!!!
    And they couldn’t even cater for people for 13 weeks!

  34. Pingback: Is A4e’s Workfare Scam Falling Apart? | the void

  35. Pingback: A4e were also predators of the young, vulnerable women « Ipswich Unemployed Action.

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