Being unemployed, you’ve got no income at all. You have to rely on Work and Income New Zealand and the unemployment benefit in order to afford even the simplest things. Even then, you don’t get a whole hell of a lot.
But, they can be the cause of many, many headaches.
I have a particular one going right now. I’m raging. Actually blind rage, because what they are asking me to do/telling me and what I have told them and done, just doesn’t add up.
From the beginning: I was on the sickness benefit because after all my university study I had very severe depression and needed a break. But at the start of May, my medical certificate ran out and my doctor wanted me to transition from the sickness to the unemployment. I did not question this, I was quite ready to get a job, beyond ready actually.
I had an appointment at the Flaxmere office, went through the unemployment seminar, which was actually a waste of time for me because it was all “where to find a job”. Yeah, I know where to do that. I then met with a case worker. I told her that there weren’t many opportunities for me in Hastings and that I was wanting to move to Wellington. Because of me wanting to move, they were not able to give me any benefit.
So I moved.
I then made an appointment at the Willis St office and again underwent an unemployment seminar and met with a case worker. Who, I might add, was a lot more understanding than the case worker I met with in Flaxmere. He actually understood that I had skills above physical labour and didn’t want to do any course for practical skills or retraining, because I already had them. He also saw that I had been applying for every and any job that I thought I could do. All of this I did tell the Flaxmere case worker, but she didn’t seem to understand me.
After my first appointment in Wellington, I had to go to a second one with a case worker in order to get the unemployment benefit. I did this the next week and I got my benefit.
This was a HUGE relief, because I also got back pay. By huge relief, think: at the extent of my overdraft starting to panic, relief.
Being on the unemployment benefit, you do have to meet certain requirements. I’m up for that. I’ve been applying for jobs left, right and centre. I just haven’t been getting anywhere with them, which really upsets me.
You also have to go to several employment seminars etc etc. So I had an appointment for one of these at the Wellington office. In a stupid silly mistake of mine, I missed this one. I thought it was on the Wednesday, not the Tuesday. For some reason I thought June 14 was the Wednesday, not the Tuesday. But once I realised my mistake, I called the 0800 number and explained the situation and asked whether I could book in for another one.
However, the guy that I was talking to said that this type of thing had to be booked through an office. I was ok with this, because I walk past the WINZ office quite regularly. It wouldn’t affect me much.
So the next day, I went into the Willis St office and explained the situation to the person on reception and again asked whether I could book for another one. At this point I was told that if I had missed it, someone would call me and that they couldn’t book it there.
So I waited.
Earlier this week I finally got a phone call to re-book this appointment. Unfortunately because I am in Hastings for family obligations currently I couldn’t do it this week or next. I would also like to not have anything to do with the Flaxmere office ever again, because they actually make me feel worthless. So I have an appointment for July 12, when I am back in Wellington.
Now, this is where it starts to make me angry.
Dated June 16, that would be two days after I missed the Wellington appointment, I received a letter saying there was an appointment for me to discuss “Work and Training opportunities” at the Flaxmere office for June 22.
Naturally, being in Wellington, my mother called and canceled this appointment for me saying I had done what they told me and moved.
Another letter arrived, dated June 22, advising me that I had another appointment for the same thing on June 30, at the Flaxmere office.
Because my mother didn’t want to spend another 30 mins on hold to explain the situation she wrote on the letter, “You have already been advised that Lisa is now in Wellington. She has had several appointments at an office there. Please cancel,” and faxed it to the Flaxmere office.
Today I got another letter, dated June 29 saying that I failed to attend an appointment on June 28, to meet work obligations and did not carry out the agreed Job Search Activity. Subsequently, my benefit will reduce from next week.
As far as I am aware, I never had an appointment on June 28.
Other inconsistencies include:
Why are they making appointments for me at the FLAXMERE office, when I have been dealing with the WELLINGTON office to get my benefit and they know I have moved to Wellington.
Why did it take TWO WEEKS for someone to call me and reschedule my missed appointment, when I could have had the appointment re-booked the day of, or day after I had missed one? I put in the effort to rectify my mistake, and now I am been penalised for them making mistakes.
Yes, the first mistake was mine. I am not challenging that. I’m challenging everything that has come AFTER that.
It is not like I have been sitting around on my arse doing nothing. Since I got the unemployment benefit, I have had testing and an interview with Media Monitors, which I didn’t get because they said I wouldn’t fit with the team. As in, my personality wouldn’t fit with the team.
I also had testing with the Wellington Courts for potentially becoming a court reporter. However, I only managed to get to 65wpm on the test and they need at least 70wpm. Damn.
I did some contract work for the Department of Building and Housing.
I’ve also finished my photography diploma. That was A LOT of work.
I’ve also been applying for jobs, as you do when you are looking for a job.
And finally, I have been continuing to write for Oh, The Scandal!
Not that any of these are the employment seminars etc that you have to attend, but they have obviously missed something. LIKE THE FACT I NOW LIVE IN WELLINGTON.
Now, I could have actually gone to the June 30 appointment, because I was actually in Flaxmere at this time. But at the time of the letter, I did not know I was going to be here.
So now I have to call them on Monday to try and sort all this out. Taking up more of my time.
I tweeted earlier: “It’s like, how can they expect you to find time to look for a job, when you’re constantly fighting them?”
Maybe if they actually left me alone, I’d have found a job by now.
That might be a bit unlikely. For some reason no newspaper or media company wants to hire me. I do not know why. And I am getting forever more angry and frustrated about it all. I actually want to crawl in to a hole and forget this entire world exists.
I’d prefer to have nothing to do with WINZ, but alas, I need some money.