Wednesday, 18 August 2010

For the Benefit of Mr..

Well, Mr Kite might have had a show, but my experience this morning was more of a 'no show'..

My redundancy communiqué had suggested I sign on with the local Job Centre, just to make sure that, if nothing else, someone knows about NI contributions. The one in West Street seemed to fit the bill, I walk in and they wonder why I'm there.. Apparently it's all changed.

In the early/mid 90's I used to sign on, and the computer system they had then was OS/2 consoles onto the IBM system behind, followed later by a Win 3[point-11 ;-)] front-end. It worked, I declared when I worked, I got paid, they had the satisfaction of helping someone who was trying to help themselves (not so sure about that last bit).

Today, I walked in to see a solitary welcome 'hot-desk' - no chairs, just floating receptionists to lead you to your appointment; and a collection of flat screen terminals mounted as little table-top islands dotted about a sea of carpet (which was even blue as I recall). You don't just walk in anymore, I'll need to make a phone call which forms the initial application, and then have an appointment as get back to West Street for another floating greet. It wasn't a wasted trip - I got the phone number I needed.

From there I wanted to visit a Citizens Advice Bureau, mainly to ask about any benefits I may be entitled to. I have no intention of being reviled as a sponger (or whatever the Daily Mail is choosing to call such folk today), but if there is help available in what ever form (Working Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, etc), then I would like to know about it.

Sheffield is blessed with many CABs it turns out, but checking the website it seems the majority of them are specialist ones. It seemed that a visit to the library was in order to find out where I should go. Word on the street is that CABs are now a regional institution - you go where your local one is, which is fair enough. I live in S11, for which there is no officially recognised CAB. humph. On advice from the very helpful librarian [must visit the Central Library more, they are very nice folk :-)] I set out for the Sharrow CAB on London Road. It seems the other few that I could visit are open long enough for one get there just as they are closing, whereas Sharrow are open for upto 5 hours at a time most days.

Got there, got my number, got a seat. Waited about 45 min (seat was fairly comfy, thankfully) then had a 10 minute interview where they asked what I wanted to know. I have an appointment in 10 days time when I will get an answer; in the meantime, they suggested I do what I thought would be a sensible things to do anyway.

Overall, It was a pleasant 5 or 6 mile walk around the city. The sun was out, the sky was blue, and those clouds over there looked less grey than they do now..

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