A while back I was called in by Maximus to go on a job search group session. Whilst I was waiting there for the session to start a young woman who was also attending was complaining about the fact she had been told to attend and that she was annoyed about the amount of times she is being called in by Maximums every week because she never gets to spend time with her young relatives.
I gathered she was in JSA and I felt sorry for her as it was obvious that the Work Programme was putting on the pressure on her to find work by making her attend as many times in a week as they could.
Then I got thinking what kind of reaction so many people out there amongst the general public would have to her complaints and the kind of hostile attitudes she would get.
They would tell her that she shouldn’t be able to spend time with her family because she’s claiming benefits and she’s supposed to be looking for a job. There would be people asking why should be able to spend time with her family whilst living off the money of “hard working taxpayers”.
There would be working people who would tell her that they don’t get to spend much time with their families as they have to work long hours to pay their bills and put food on their tables and that she should feel lucky that because she is unemployed she gets to see her family more than they do theirs.
They would call her a “scrounger” and tell her to stop complaining and go get a job because that’s what she is being paid by the government to do.
The reason I am talking about this woman and all this is because these are the nasty kind of attitudes people on benefits have to endure from sections of the public who have jobs. And these attitudes are created by the government and the media who pit the working and the non working ordinary people against each other.
They tell working people that whilst they work hard for long hours the unemployed sit around doing whatever they want with lots of time on their hands and lots of money for cigarettes, booze and Sky TV.
It’s this kind of rhetoric and propaganda that creates the nasty attitudes towards the unemployed and people on benefits which turns ordinary people against each other.
We must resist the attempts by the government and the media to divide us because anyone of us could find ourselves needing to claim benefits in our lives,