Friday, 25 March 2011

The cuts - a look at some alternatives

At a time when we're told there are no alternatives, here's a movement that's exploring them. See what you think.

It Cuts Both Ways...The Alternatives from Oonagh Cousins on Vimeo.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

The government cuts

Many people feel that the government has turned their back on them due to the massive cuts. On Saturday 26 March there will be a protest against the government’s cuts. This will see the UK’s biggest single protest since the anti-Iraq war march in 2003. Many people around the country will travel to London and make their voices heard at their anger of government’s cuts. The march will begin from London’s Victoria Embankment between Waterloo and Blackfriars Bridges at 12:00pm.

The cuts are absolutely ridiculous; they seem to be killing off young people when they are the future of the society. This is what, I think, the government doesn’t seem to realize.

My brother is due to begin university in September. He will be studying English Literature; his mind is set on going to university this year. To some extent I’m worried about the amount of debt he will be in at the end of his degree. Will there even be enough jobs available for university graduates?

I’m still considering going university, there is a lot I’d like to learn and there is no social life like university. But I have always been put off by the tuition fees – even before they put up the fees. I find university life rather interesting and it’s quite heart-breaking that I may have to forget about going to university all together because I’ll be drowning in debt by the time I graduate.

I know a few people that have dropped out of college because of the EMA (Education Maintenance Allowance) cuts and also the rise of tuition fees, they feel that it isn’t worth going to university and getting themselves in larges sums of debt. I know many young people were only attending college because of EMA but I suppose they could have come up with a better alternative rather than calling the whole thing to a close.

What I’m mostly upset about is them getting rid of the FJF Future Jobs Fund. My brother got his first job through the Future Jobs Fund and although the contract was only for 6 months, he got the skills and experience he needed that will attract potential employers. Now it is going to be tougher than it was before for young people with little or no experience to find employment. This is what happens when the government tries to fix something that isn’t broken. They are supposed to be creating more opportunities not taking them away.

Just because of the government, people should not give up on their dreams; there are other options than just going to university. This is the chance for people to think and be more aware about what is out there. There are apprenticeships where it is possible to earn money while gaining essential skills required in a working environment and I’m sure there are more choices out there.

Despite the government, my family still remain optimistic and believe that something better will come along. There is always an option. The cuts have made me think about how much we take for granted. 

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Me and My Unemployed Self

You may think, just as I did, that getting up at a really early time to get ready to go and work for someone you don't like is just not worthwhile, doesn't feel worthwhile and doesn't promote job satisfaction. But being unemployed is not a case of "I can stay home and do whatever I want".

I, like most people, absolutely loved the idea of not having to work, staying at home and watching daytime TV. I quite enjoyed the idea of staying up late and waking up at some time in the afternoon. But that didn't last long because eventually my friends and people I knew all started to get jobs. They quickly took a dim view of the unemployed, and as I had been part of that club for some time, in their eyes I was dossing and becoming a scrounger. I was constantly getting pissed off with the same old spiel that came out of their mouths that I could recite it word for word. I became bored and regularly ended up sitting at home on my own watching crap TV.

Until my dad told me about it, I didn't even know that the job centre existed! That I could sign a piece of paper and the government would give me some money! I wasn't about to pass up the opportunity to get some money for sitting on my backside. I thought I'd won the lottery. In the beginning it was great, just sign your name and get over £100 a fortnight! I could buy my tobacco, go out, buy games, it felt good. I had money!

But when you break it down and work it out, it's not nearly enough for you to live on. The government clearly have no idea what they are talking about. They worked it out wrongly at some stage. What if they had to live on £60 a week could they? What would they say then?

There is a requirement that the adviser matches a job to you. Now, you have to apply for these jobs even if you are neither qualified nor experienced. If you don't, then your benefits are stopped. This is something which all staff at job centres are pre-programmed to utter.
I soon had an internal battle of whether I could put up with the rigmarole of going to the job centre and having to put up with all the aggro just to get some money.

After some time you get promoted, the worst promotion ever, to "New Deal". It's centred around looking in newspapers, the Internet or using the phone to call employers whilst sitting in a room full of people tired and pissed off. Fail to attend, then - yep - your benefits get stopped. The only beneficial part is the chance to gain some skills from voluntary work. There are two ways out, get a job and work for your money or finish the program and start from the beginning.

These high and mighty advisers constantly shirking their responsibilities is a constant source of anger, but I still have to go through the motions or my benefits get stopped. I have been back and forth through this system so much that it felt as though that was my job. So I became trapped in this cycle of can't get a job due to lack of skills and can't learn the skills because no one is willing to teach these skills.

So, to recap, being unemployed lost its initial appeal long ago.