Avanta Work Programme - By Anon Mum Of Three


Being a prisoners wife and mother of 3 children who are all in school i decided around 6 months ago to get motivated and get back into the the job market. I voluntarily signed on at the job centre and started at my local charity shop part time and which I truly enjoy. The Job centre also referred me to Avanta, formerly TNG who run the work program. With me being new to the job market I was happy with this and happy to do what ever was asked of me within reason. Once I started with Avanta I was told to apply for 5 jobs a week and to keep all and any appointments or interviews made by them for me to attend, which they changed and remade frequently by letter and by phone with very little notice or explanation. As I do run a family and work in a charity shop and sign on at the job centre it was bound to happen that appointments where to clash but I did everything in my power to make sure all was met. One clash occurred on my day of work in the charity shop, when I told Avanta this there attitude was plainly that the work in that shop did not matter and that I must attend the appointment. There tone was far from understanding and I had noticed early on that there tone was often demeaning and belittling when trying to hold a sensible conversation. Now I don’t have transport and with 3 children in school I must stay reasonably local so at to be home for them from school. Avanta got me a interview as a cleaner in St Helens which is 40 or 50 minutes away by car and it was for a night shift post!? A second interview was also made for a minimum wage part time job in a sweet shop 5 miles away and that’s at least 2 bus rides for me. When I expressed my concerns that these interviews where a waste of time and that I could not possibly work a night shift with 3 children at home their reply was if I didn’t attend the interviews I would be sanctioned. As I didn’t want this I found a way to go. Even on a day when I had to take my daughter to hospital I was so worried about a sanction I still rushed to get to the appointment made by them in fear of losing my benefits. It was not a major concern to me but 6 months down the line I had noticed my health was not its best and I couldn’t place why so decided to get to the doctors for a check up to make sure there was nothing badly wrong. It was a shock to me when after a long conversation with my doctor that over recent events he made a certain diagnosis of stress and depression due to the increased added pressure from Avanta and there work program to which he immediately gave me a sick note. I was not looking for this outcome and had never suffered this problem before so with sick note in hand I visited the Job centre who had no problem at all with it. When I informed Avanta of this development there attitude was quiet different. They was adamant and insisted I must attend there appointments or again there was threats of sanctioning. My patients was now way past broken for no amount of common sense was getting through to them and they kept repeating the same thing so I put the phone down on them. I called the job centre to and clarify my situation and see if I was going to be sanctioned. There reply was it was not compulsory that I attend Avanta’s work program while on sick but I could if I wanted to. This was not the impression they gave me.