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Benefits - ESA/DLA/PIP/JSA/ATOS etc Post here about Benefits / ATOS etc.
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  #1  
Old 09-02-12, 17:19
Sarah755 Sarah755 is offline
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 10
ESA work programme?

Hi all, I posted previously about my struggles with the Job Centre, (I'm presuming you can search my name if you want to have a look, i'm still not sure how to navigate around this site, sorry ).

Long story short. I worked all my adult life until I was made redundant over two years ago. I have suffered with anxiety and depression since I was a teen, and IBS for three years (diagnosed about two years ago I think).

I was moved onto jobseekers from income support in early 2011 when my youngest hit seven. Within three months I was threatened with sanctions as the jc advisor decided I wasn't trying hard enough to find a job. I tried to explain that I hadn't applied for many because A: There aren't many, and B: Most require an early start which I dont have childcare for. Despite the fact that when claiming as a Lone Parent certain restrictions are in place (work during school hours), I was ignored. The stress of the threatened sanctions kicked my anxiety back into play to the point where I was feeling panic attacks coming on every time I entered the jobcentre, and could hardly sleep every week before my appointment.

I put in a claim for ESA which was successful and about six months later attended the ATOS assessment which I "passed". I was placed in what I believe is called the "work focussed" group.

I was called into the jobcentre before Christmas and told that I would be sent on a work programme in my local area. I was then called by the people who run the work programme and asked to attend to be assessed about thirteen miles away. First hurdle, hugely stressful for me. I can't travel to new places on my own, they know this. I've been told I will have to attend the actual programme once a week in my local area. That's fine, but I have to attend on my own, and it's a programme run for people with learning disabilities. Now don't get me wrong, I dont have a problem with people who have learning disabilities, my own son has special needs. But surely, this can't be right. I don't have a learning disability, I have anxiety. My needs are very different to my son's for example.

The thought of sitting in a group situation has me frozen in terror. I am not a people person, I can't handle it. Apart from that, I don't understand how this is supposed to help me. I know how to look for a job, I have experience, and qualifications. I'm already applying for every job I find that I can do taking into account my anxiety, IBS and childcare.

I'm already fretting over it. I have no problem with seeing someone once a week on my own, I still dont see the point but i'm happy to do that.

If they force me into some group i'm thinking of just not claiming anything at all, because as daft as it sounds, I know it will make me ill again. I fear crowded places, and group situations, that is a huge part of my anxiety.

Does anyone have any experience of this?
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  #2  
Old 09-02-12, 18:12
eight days a week eight days a week is offline
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Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 638
Re: ESA work programme?

Sounds like madness to me.

I am really upset to hear that you are considering not claiming a benefit to which you are entitled because of their (in my opinion) bizarre demands.

Are you under the local mental health services? If so there will be a benefits adviser you can access - mine is usually a great help. I did not really understand my rights until I saw him.

If not how about contacting the CAB for advice? Mental health charities might be able to offer advice or local contacts who can help - just a thought?

Sorry I can't help more than that. I was under a 'back to work' adviser one-to-one a couple of years ago. She realised there was no way I could get back to work until things improve and so when I attended she just completed the paperwork and in the end discharged me, now I don't see anyone.

Really hope you don't give up and get some good advice, good luck!

---------- Post added at 17:12 ---------- Previous post was at 17:05 ----------

A long shot here - but if you are in Kent PM me and I'll give you the number of the benefits advice office I use.
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  #3  
Old 09-02-12, 19:10
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Stormsky Stormsky is offline
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Posts: 1,858
Re: ESA work programme?

Can your GP write a letter for you to give the Jobcentre explaining all these worries you have due to your anxiety? Surely theyd have to take a letter from gp into account.
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  #4  
Old 09-02-12, 19:23
eight days a week eight days a week is offline
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Join Date: May 2010
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Re: ESA work programme?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stormsky View Post
Can your GP write a letter for you to give the Jobcentre explaining all these worries you have due to your anxiety? Surely theyd have to take a letter from gp into account.
Great idea! They don't seem to have the courtesy to let you know it's available, but if your GP will fax Atos a letter saying that due to your health condition(s) you are unable to travel to a medical and will require a home medical, you will get one. I just did that today.

For my tribunal (after I was turned down for the benefit a couple of years ago after a 'failed' home medical) they paid for a taxi as it was the only way I could make it - even then about halfway there I almost had to ask him to turn around and take me home.

I would think it's the same for this meeting with them 13 miles away.

Placing you into that particular kind of group sounds just wrong. I'd definitely question/contest the decision myself.

Again, good luck!
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  #5  
Old 10-02-12, 14:03
Lilyblue Lilyblue is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2010
Posts: 125
Re: ESA work programme?

I got to go for my 3rd meeting with my advisor, it's one to one, apart from introduction which i sat at table with 20 people while they discuss what will happen,
It's pointlesss to me, i too know how to get a job and do cv's etc, they didnt even discuss about esa or mental healthm was full of people who have never worked,
Mine is 15 miles away, they know i can't use public transport or go on my own but they don't seem to understand, they want me to do activities on my own and try go on a train there, i have to pay for taxi which is 50 pound return every time but they don't refund you for taxi's.

I just had another medical, if i fail this then i am so canceling my work programm as willl have no money to get there, next time i go we are sorting out my cv. Er my cv is fine, yes it needs updating but i know how to do it, my cv did get me a job after all.

I really don't see how they can help, i can't even leave the house on my own, my mum has to cancel her work to come with me, it's a good job she's self employed and part time or she ll prob of been sacked having all this time off, or i wouldnt be able to attend any appoiontments.

Hope you get on ok at first appointment, it only lasts 30 mins. :-)
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  #6  
Old 14-02-12, 11:37
MargaretHale MargaretHale is offline
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Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 132
Re: ESA work programme?

I had similar when I was on JSA before I learned about ESA. I was made to go on a 'workshop' and it was torture. I sat there shaking and sweating and clockwatching. This sounds like bloody madness to me, forcing someone with anxiety to do this!
Let us know how you get on?
x
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