Category Archives: work

Unemployment – the tip of the iceberg

Busting a groove here after a looooong absence to point people towards today’s Guardian Reality Check on unemployment stats. They’ve totted up those who want to work full time but who aren’t on Job Seeker’s Allowance for whatever reason, and added it to the enormous already figure of 2.67 million unemployed.

It makes 6.9 million unemployed people.

That’s 10% of the UK population, or just under.

There are 476,000 vacancies.

This means there are 14.5 people available for every job.

And yet the government continues with it’s narrative that all unemployed people need to do is try to get into work a bit harder and stop being lazy. It’s time to ask them to read us a different bedtime story, because that fairytale is just not cutting it anymore.


Choice paradox

I’m writing this already angry as I’m in my first day of going cold turkey on the cigarettes for the second time in 2 years, so forgive me if I rage.

Today the government ‘announced’ how many people are on incapacity benefit and its successor because of drug and alcohol addiction or obesity. It didn’t announce how many are claiming this benefit because of learning difficulties, or because of back pain – that doesn’t grab headlines. Picking on alkies, druggies and fatties is fair game for the media and the public and the government knows it. Check out this Cameron quote:

“We are finding a large number of people who are on incapacity benefit because of drink problems, alcohol problems or problems with weight and diet. And I think a lot of people who pay their taxes and work hard will think: ‘That’s not what I pay my taxes for. I pay my taxes for people who are incapacitated through no fault of their own.”

How nice of him to anticipate what tax payers may think so they can make his argument for him. He can’t come out and say that people with severe issues with drugs, alcohol and obesity aren’t going to be given any money, because then people might complain about the extra number of homeless that could create, or the further burden on over-stretched families. Oh, but he’ll listen to the hoards of Daily Mail readers saying that these people choose to be this way and so they, the honest and never-ill taxpayers,  shouldn’t have to support their lifestyle.

Really? A choice, really? You think alcoholics choose to be alcoholics? You think that anyone chooses to become secretive, bloated, paranoid, unemployed,, friendless and with no family becuase it’s so much fun and they get at most £94.25 a week?

And drug addicts choose to be addicts, not users, right? You think people choose septicemia, visible track marks, a constant worry about supply, worry about police raids, blackouts and potential overdose because it’s such a happy lifestyle?

You think people choose to be 500lbs (35.7 stone) with diabetes, heart disease, breathing issues, skin infections and the constant judgement and disgust of other people because hey, fat people are always jolly!

If people chose to be those things in the first place, if it was that easy as to be a choice, like I choose to put on red shoes and I choose to take the Tube today, then it would be as easy to unchoose it. To not choose it in the first place. To choose to be a recovering addict. and yet. The facts remain that breaking addiction is one of the hardest things to do. Because you’re a fucking addict.

An addict is very different ot a recreational user or even someone with a dependency. Addicts have different brain chemistry, deteriorated impulse control, and a physical dependency on the drug to feel and operate as ‘normal’. This isn’t some drunken lager lout getting to bevvied up one night and signing off on benefits the next day. This is someone who actively has to stop the brain and their body from needing – not in ‘I need a holiday’ kinda way but in a ‘I need air’ way – that substance. It takes time, therapy, sometimes other medication. It needs compassion.

And for those tiny percentage of claimants who are obese (it’s 0.1% of the total. 0.1%)? Many, many illnesses cause obesity, include hyperthyroidism, Cushing’s syndrome, PCOS, and depression, and some medications can cause obesity. And yes, a lot of people are obese because they like fatty food and don’t move round enough. and this in turn can cause depression and more eating and breaking that cycle is just as hard as breaking an addiciton. But really, you’re going get all up on your high horse because 0.1% of claimants are obese?

These things, alcoholism, drug addiction, obesity – these aren’t choices. No one chooses that life. That lifestyle is something I wouldn’t wish on my bitterest enemy. So how dare you say that it’s a choice, and try to make it so that the baying public calls to get their incapacity benefit taken away. How dare you say that these alcoholics should be searching for work when it’s highly unlikely they’ll be able to keep down a job even if they are offered one? (Of course, some do, and some drug addicts have 9-5 jobs. Well done. They can cope. these people can’t.)

Can they physically work? No. Then they get incapacity benefit. That’s the only choice we have in a society that gives a shit about others.

The Comms Measurement Con

Right, that’s it. I’ve had enough. I’m sorry, but my job is not rocket science. There are no huge mysteries to unlock – sure, it’s a struggle trying to engage contractors, or trying to reach remote workers. But really, do we need to wank on so much about measurement as if it’s the Holy Grail that no comms professional has found and only high-costing events can show us?

Melcrum, IABC and the IoIC all fall foul of this – they tout bloody Sinickas around like some form of preacher, but her top tips amount to nothing more than common or garden sense. Any communicator worth their salt knows to run surveys, knows to invite feedback and gather verbatims, knows to give out review sheets after events, to count hits and click-throughs, to hold focus groups. That’s our sodding job, and anyone not doing that or thinking about doing that has no bloody business being in comms.

Perhaps that’s the issue. Going back to my previous rants about unqualified people being put into comms (it’s not unheard for comms to go to a PA as a ‘development opportunity’), perhaps it’s the fact that comms is full of people without this basic comms knowledge.

I just wish that people wouldn’t shell out hundreds of pounds for events and instead maybe run a Google search, talk to a nice fellow comms professional, or use their own sodding common sense.


New job nerves

I start my new job tomorrow. I’m quite nervous. Essentially, my job before last I had a manager who bullied me horribly until I was a shadow of my former self and cried a lot. My most recent job had an evil Director who hated me for no real reason and I now have an irrational fear that my judgment isn’t sound because if I checked with other people, that was apparently the wrong thing to do, and if I made a decision, that was also the wrong thing to do.

So I have less faith in myself that I used to. But I’ve learned a lot and know way more than I did. I know that everyone fucks up at work on a fairly regular basis, and I will fuck up from time to time. I guess I just have go in and fuck up with enthusiasm and a good sense of humour!

I just hope that tomorrow goes well and I get a good placement. I hope I don’t fuck up that much. I hope the Tube runs ok. Erk. Cross your fingers for me.

Last day

It’s my last day in the office and I’m about to let my soon-to-be ex-colleagues have this blog address. Always worrying. This is why I keep my Twitter and blog secret to colleagues and why I never mention my workplace’s name or incriminating details. Nothing worse than feeling you have to censor yourself.

It’s that strange feeling I get when I leave somewhere – sad to not be seeing the people everyday, excited to be moving somewhere new, happy to be leaving some of the shitty politics behind and not a huge amount to do. I always want to be able to pop in the following week to make sure everything is ok. I wish I could say it was dedication, but it’s most likely my control freak peeking out.

Anyway, the sun’s come out to greet me and there’s an article I must blog about regarding youth unemployment and I’m going to get hammered tonight. Things are looking up.


Sometimes office politics is so blatant it makes you feel a little bit ill. Our team is being reviewed except for the team that runs the Mayor’s events, because that’s how he gets re-voted in. Quel surprise.

Anyway, they will be getting rid of people – how many, we don’t know – and will be combining jobs and probably regrading jobs. The public sector is screwed for communications, y’all.

All change

Apparently we are going to learn about the fate of the Comms Team today at my council – although I won’t work here for much longer as my last day is Friday.  People are noticeably nervous about their roles, and who can blame them with all these stories about council redundancies.

While I think that yes, we need to streamline some of the bloated mess that a lot of councils have grown to, I really think that the government is naive in thinking that they will automatically reduce the management. Most places are looking at closing libraries and other frontline services and reducing free services (such as free swims) for kids and the elderly. This means frontline redundancies – you know the people who collect the litter and look after your parents in a care home. Gone. They weren’t paid very much to begin with and management (including our management) have decided they like being senior managers with a fat salary too much to give it up.

This is really a management fail. And this kind of thing happens in most places, except I do think that the private sector tends to axe management more readily as they have shareholders to answer to. Councils don’t tend to answer to anyone – if you can’t afford it, you have to accept council services rather than go elsewhere.

The government fail is really a system fail – and damn, I hate saying that as blaming the Tories is my new favourite hobby.  Those who get more funding will be adversely affected when the funding goes. Those not needing funding can’t have any money taken away from them as that’s what they earn from Council Tax and paid-for services. So while it’s vastly unfair that Richmond is cutting 4% of their budget and my council is cutting 8.9%, the only way for us to even it up is to make them stop charging for services or for us to start. Guess which will happen.

Anyway, we learn what will happen at 2pm. I’m sure I’ll do an update as I have a feeling most Comms Teams will be facing similar issues if they work in the public sector.