Mandatory Work Activity: a Personal Experience.
We publish this moving guest post (with permission) by somebody who has undergone MWA.
Places and names are lightly disguised.
“To whom it may concern,
I have completed my 4 weeks of Mandatory Work Activities at a well-known Religious Charity and I have 3 things to say:
1) That it is true that Provider X is very tight when it comes to reimburse travel expenses: I was asked to pay upfront for my weekly bus pass and every time I went to L to get my expenses back they, in general, never had any money left. When I asked for my 2 weeks fare to be reimburse they kind of accused me for not having come the previous week. They finally gave me the £18.80x 2 in 2 notes of £5, £4 in coins of £2 and the rest in 20p coins. The following week they told me that they did not have money and that I would have to come back another day. I refused to leave, asked to speak to the manager who ended up collecting money (some of the notes clamped in between is two rows of teeth while looking for the remaining amount in the petty box. As if I wanted to share is mouth germs. On hearth???) from his own employees to pay back my fare. Pitiful, really!
I also had to travel a total of 2 hours and an half, each day, to go to my work place. Not that I would have mind doing it If I had been paid.
On the last week going to Provider X, to collect my transportation fare, I had to face the aggressive behavior of my advisor who was furious that I and two others on the same scheme had arrived half an hour late. As if we had the choice to leave our work place at will? As a result I felt like a kid who had done something terribly wrong and found myself stammering while answering.
Since Provider X never reimburse the fare without showing the receipt (my MWA finished on a Monday, which mean I did not have a bus pass for the week but, simply some single tickets) it resulted that my return ticket from L to my home was at my own expense: £2.30. In my situation… every little helps! and I was at lost.
2) I was sent to MWA despite the fact that, and on my own initiative, I was already volunteering (three times a week) in a place where I was learning true valuable skills which could lead me, in the future, to potential employment. When I questioned my advisor on the matter, he simply answer that it was about being employed. My work placement was at the well-known Religious Charity and, truly, he ought to have known that there were very little, not to say any, chances to be employed by this charity who mainly depend on volunteers in order to survive. Not to mention that, apart from sorting out the clothes, among other things, that are fit to go in the shop for sale, and going up and down the stairs at length, carrying heavy loads of heavy bags of rubbish throughout the day, I hardly learn anything valuable that would have helped me to find a job. All what I learned, with an absolute certitude though, is the extend of the society of consumerism in which we are living in: It’s staggering!
3) I would also like to mention that the reason for why I have been on JSA is a direct result of the government cuts. I was a self-employed person partly depending on founding/ partly on tax credit and delivered art workshops to people of all age groups. I am now baffled on how the actual government can cut so much of these valuable, necessary and appreciated workshops that helped and supported many; contributing in taking lots of teenager off the street and gave a sense to their life and yet, still be able to gather 5 billion pounds on MWA.
Finally, I do not know if the information I provided above will be of any help to you, I shall hope so. In any case however, I really wanted you to know that I deeply appreciate what you are doing for the unemployed and the rest.”