Posted by: bluefoxy | March 24, 2017

Discomfort, Distration And General Dissatisfaction

Alright, let’s get right into this train wreck.

So in an attempt to help Lav find work, the jobcentre asked her about what she might be interested in doing…now, since Lav did a one-day thing where she worked in a warehouse, and tried to get a job in another warehouse, she made that her first choice. She felt warehouse work was something she could do.

She had Office Assistant / Admin / IT as her second choice but that’s not important right now.

The advisor then revealed there was a warehouse course being set up…though warned Lav that warehouse tends to be a very male dominated industry, as it tends to involve lots of heavy lifting.

Lav said she’d be okay with that, so got put into a slot for the open day at Manchester Town Hall, where they’re supposed to interview her.

She goes to Manchester Town Hall, she meets the guy running it, and pretty much all he does is ask “are you able to come to the course?” Lav tells him yes, and he just signs her up then and there, no further questions asked!

Once the jobcentre learned of this, it was now mandatory for Lav to attend… “Failure to attend could result in a loss of benefit” was their wording. Standard stuff.

Lav goes to the first day of the course, she gets to the room, and sees nothing but men there…around 20 of them. And they all seemed to be giving her weird looks.

She felt very uncomfortable about this, and decided she wanted to cancel the course and leave.

We went straight to the jobcentre and told them of this…and were informed that it will be put down as a failure to attend, and will have to go to an independent decision maker…and if they decide this affects our claim, we will get sanctioned, and our claim will, at the very least, be suspended…for a month.

Now, here’s the thing…before the course started we both VERY CLEARLY remember being told on a number of occasions that we could cancel the course at any point, for any good reason…just tell the jobcentre right away if we do.

At no point did anybody specify that cancelling the course after she had been signed up for it would mean our claim would be affected by that decision.

We both assumed failure to attend meant simply, you’re on the course, but you didn’t physically attend it, and you didn’t inform anyone you weren’t attending, and then the people running the course ring the jobcentre and say “so-and-so wasn’t here” and you get in trouble for that.

The advisor that saw us gave us a chance to put forward our case to the independent decision makers, we did our best to try and explain Lav’s decision as best we could, although, at the time, we didn’t really have a chance to think of how to put it as articulately as I described above.

The messages that were sent simply explained that Lav felt uncomfortable, we feel we were told by jobcentre staff that we could cancel without any issues, oh and this is the first time Lav has had something brought to the attention of a decision maker.

We’re hoping that feeling uncomfortable is a good enough reason to not want to attend…after all, at an actual job, when you feel uncomfortable, there’s measures in place that you can take so your employers have to help you feel more comfortable. At least, that’s what I’ve heard.

I’ll get back to that whole situation in a minute, as there’s another aspect of our current situation I need to address.

So you remember in my last post how I was talking about how we were trying to move internet providers from Sky to Virgin Media so we could get good internet for a decent price?

Virgin Media kept delaying our installation date due to a “construction issue”…week after week for almost a MONTH we waited for them to come get us set up, and they kept rescheduling.

In the meantime, we were puttering along on a mobile Wi-Fi device we got from Vodafone just so we could have some semblance of internet.

We finally decided Virgin Media sucked…their customer service is completely rubbish…oh, and we found Vodafone has an even better broadband internet speed for an even cheaper price…so we cancelled Virgin Media and went ahead with Vodafone.

Vodafone’s customer service is so much better. Like, after we ordered the Vodafone router, the agent we spoke to asked us how much internet we had left on our mobile Wi-Fi…at this point we’d used all but around 2 gigabytes.

So…he sent us a 50 gig sim card for our Wi-fi device for free…he said they don’t normally do that, but since we’re getting broadband he decided to be generous and give us something to keep us going till our router arrives.

The 50 gig sim card arrives in the mail a couple of days later…guess what? There’s nothing on it.
No credit, no data, nothing!

Well, crap. I had to pay for some extra data on the mobile Wi-Fi sim card we already had just to keep us going while we waited for the router to arrive.

Soon as the router arrived, we put in the request for the two mobile Wi-Fi sim cards to have their service discontinued.

However, the other day we looked at our Vodafone bill…and it came to ONE HUNDRED AND FOURTY FIVE POUNDS!!

With the threat of no JSA looming, I called my mom to loan me the money to cover the bill.

She agreed, so long as I can pay it back afterwards.

Then we called Vodafone to see if anything can be done…from the way the guy was talking, it sounds like nothing CAN be done until both mobile Wi-Fi contracts officially end on April 10th.

Then he was saying stuff that sounded to me like, since we didn’t use the mobile Wi-Fi in all the time since we called for it to be cancelled, we will automatically be reimbursed the money we paid for something we didn’t use.

He then started talking about us needing to send back the mobile Wi-Fi device or we’ll be charged a fee for keeping it. He was talking about trying to get us through to the returns department when the call got dropped for some reason…signal got lost I think.

So yeah I gotta call them again at some point and ask for the returns department and ask them if it’s okay if I use a returns envelope I happen to already have…it came with the router, and is obviously too big length and width wise for the Wi-Fi device, even with the device in its box, but…

…hmmm, actually, now that I think about it, I can probably just cut off the address label and the prepaid stamp and stick them on the box.

It’s best I ask them first, though. Maybe they have a specific procedure, or need to send me the correct size returns envelope, or it needs to be sent to a different returns centre than the router, or something.

I should also mention another thing I like about Vodafone’s customer service…when they put you on hold, their hold music is not the usual classical music you get with most companies, it’s like pretty groovy pop songs. I dunno what the songs are called, but it’s a nice change from hearing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons or something for the umpteenth time.

Anyway, it seems like I still have to pay that £145 bill…fortunately it’s just this one time.

Also fortunately, it turns out the Jobcentre’s decision maker hadn’t made a decision by the time Lav had to come in for her sign-on, which means we’re at least getting one more payment of JSA, more than enough to cover the Vodafone bill, and still leave us with a bit of money for other things.

Also rather fortunately, we found that we don’t have to pay council tax until the end of April…
Apparently the first payment we made covered from when we started the tenancy agreement through March…according to the letters about it, anyway.

I was just about to e-mail my mom and say I didn’t need her loan after all but she had already paid it in. So I gotta send it back to her. I’ll go do that right after posting this.

With any luck, the jobcentre’s decision maker will be lenient and let Lav off with a warning to not let it happen again…which we won’t, now that we’ve learned from our mistake here to be careful what we sign up for.

But there’s still the genuine prospect for work thing to worry about…my advisor warned me that Lav is not very likely to pass that unless she pretty much had a job already lined up by the time it comes about. The course was supposed to help her do that…now she’s turned it down, which doesn’t look good.

She’s gonna keep poking a couple of agencies she’s signed up with, see if anything crops up, and of course generally search for herself.

But even if Lav is considered no longer eligible for JSA, we’re pretty sure I can still claim for myself…we’d only get around half of what we’re getting now, but as long as there’s no more unexpected gigantic bills, we should be able to manage what little money we’ll have until at least one of us gets a job and a nice tasty salary starts coming in.

Speaking of jobs…I managed to get another interview since my last blog post…nothing came of it, but the fact that I’ve had 3 interviews in around 2 months means I’m taking steps in the right direction.
With a little bit more help, and more perseverance, and a bit of luck, MAYBE I’ll snag something.

Hey, I almost did with that RSJ Global job, but like I said before, I need something with a guaranteed income now that I’m responsible for rent and bills.

Work Solutions called me up and said they’re transferring me to their Salford branch. Brill, I’d been meaning to pay that branch a visit anyway. There’s also another Jobs fair at the Salford Civic centre.
I wanted to go to that anyway, but my advisor needed to officially book me in.
She couldn’t get a hold of the organisers while I was at my last sign on but she said she’ll keep trying and will call me and send me a letter when she’s booked me in. She said to have some printed CVs ready and come in my interview clothes.
I saw a computer room at the local community centre. They should have a printer I can use there.
I’ll need to wash my smart clothes, though. I’ve already worn all of them at least once at this point.

So what else have I been up to?

Well, there’s this I suppose;

kingdom20hearts20furry_zpsme8mg9nh

Just a little something I’d been working on these past few months amidst all the chaos of having to move out of my parent’s place and into a place of our own.

Lav and I have also gotten back into playing Second Life…we need SOMETHING to pass the time while we’re at home with not much else to do…then again, we’re not finding much to do on SL either.

There’s also Minecraft if we don’t feel like SL, or we just each do our own thing if we don’t feel like SL or Minecraft.

Although we are very much letting ourselves get too distracted by our computers to do important things in real life like cleaning the filth off the kitchen counters, cleaning the outside of the washing machine, cleaning the fridge, cleaning the floors, doing the laundry and generally keeping this place neat and tidy.

Yeah…we’re gonna be sitting around in our own filth if we don’t start getting our act together.

Wish us luck!

Ciao for now,

Cordially, The Blue Fox.

Posted by: bluefoxy | February 10, 2017

Fix Everything

So on Monday 30th we had a different engineer come in than the guy that visited us before, and he just straight up replaced our heater’s timer with a brand new one…that got everything working as it should be!
He ran a few tests to make sure there wasn’t anything else wrong with the boiler and was on his merry way.
That first engineer must not have known what he was doing.

We rang the letting agency to let them know the heating problem was fixed and then explained our money woes, and just like the housing advisor I spoke to said, they were fine with us paying what we can until the housing benefit came in.

Then on Tuesday 31st we remembered that we still had to pay one more exam fee to that dental nurse course Lav had to leave…with our funds drained as they are, we decided to ring and ask them if we can spread out the payment and lessen the blow while we build up our funds again.
Turns out she wasn’t supposed to pay all those exam fees in the first place! It was just the course fee that was non-refundable, the exam fees were a completely separate matter!
So she’s due a refund of what she already paid, and they said they were going to cancel the third payment.

Of course, a couple of days later we check our bank accounts and find they took the third exam fee anyway, taking Lav’s account into overdraft. Fortunately it seemed to happen on the day we checked so I just gave her some money to put her back into the black and hopefully the bank shouldn’t charge her for being overdraft for, like, a couple of hours.

We called the nurse course again to complain and they said they’d chase it up for us.

It’s all good now. She got an e-mail yesterday saying they were processing the refund and she should get her money back sometime on the day I type this.

In the meantime, we got some letters in the mail…from Salford City Council!
Our Housing Benefit and Council Tax Reduction claim went through! YES!!!
Now we only have to pay 10% what we would’ve paid for council tax, and the housing benefit covers most of our rent…we barely have to scratch our jobseeker’s allowance to cover the rest. Pretty sweet. We don’t have to worry about money as much now, but it would still be good to watch what we spend from now on.
We still got gas, electric, water and internet bills to pay, our mouths to feed, cleaning products to keep our place clean and bathroom toiletries to keep ourselves clean.

Anything other than all that can wait until we’re more financially comfortable for it.

On Friday 3rd, I went out to go get something from the local corner shop…only to realise after I closed the door behind me that I failed to bring my keys with me, and our door had a deadlock that locks itself when you close the door, so I was locked out!
No big deal, Lav was still inside, she can let me back in, so I knock on the window.
But when she went to rescue me, she let our flat door close behind her and she didn’t grab the keys either!
Oh, bugger, now we were both stuck outside our flat…our phones were inside, too, so we couldn’t ring for help.
The landlords weren’t in their office…they’re off on Fridays for some reason…
I asked around the corner shops if they knew of any locksmiths in the area I could ring to unlock our door for us…first place I asked didn’t know any, the second place came up with a couple of numbers, though.
So then I went to a payphone to ring the numbers…but then the payphone ate my coins and didn’t give me any credit to call with!
I was out of options…so I called the police.
I thought the police had some kind of skeleton key they could use to unlock any door.
Turns out that’s not the case…not in England, anyway.
The operator said all the police could do was break in for us, or we could break in ourselves…either way we’d be liable for the damages.
We were our of ideas…fortunately a guy from one of the other flats came along, and I asked him if he had any ideas. He went and grabbed a crowbar and levered the door open with that…and it worked!
So yeah, the deadlock’s broken off…which is fine, because obviously we were bound to accidentally lock ourselves out with that thing sooner or later.
We’ll keep it off and use the normal door lock and lock ourselves both from the outside when leaving the flat and on the inside when we’re in for security reasons…can’t have someone just barging in at any time.
That way, we’d HAVE to bring our keys to let ourselves out, and even if we do manage to go out the door without our keys, it’d be impossible to lock the door from the outside and we’d have to go back in and get them then.
We’ll have a guy come fix the deadlock when we wanna leave our flat for someplace better.
Oh, and from now on, no more frigging deadlocks for us!
If a place has one, we’re removing that straight away!
We’re NOT making the same mistake twice!

On Monday 6th, we realised Lav was lagging like crazy whenever we tried to play together on the same Minecraft world. We reckon the cheap internet from Sky is to blame.

The next level up on internet speed with Sky is quite a bit more expensive.

Virgin Media has a much better internet speed than Sky’s next level up for a much cheaper price than what Sky’s next level up would cost us.

So, it was agreed we should upgrade to Virgin Media.

The engineer will even put a new line in our front room for free, which is brill coz the existing lines are in the bedroom and our computers are in the front room…we can still connect via wi-fi but it’s not as reliable or as strong as being connected via ethernet.

Don’t get us wrong, getting Sky first wasn’t a waste of money…it was good for when we were starting our here and sorting out our finances, but now that we got Housing Benefit coming in we can definitely afford something much better.

So Virgin Media will be coming on the 21st…coincidentally the same day Sky will be cancelling our subscription to them, so there should be no signal conflicts.

On Wednesday 8th, my new jobcentre advisor was reviewing the changes to my CV she suggested I make, and she asked me why I’ve been out of paid work for over 10 years.
I explained I’ve applied to countless vacancies, but been getting little to no reply, and the few replies I do get are either the auto-replies from bigger companies thanking me for my application, or replies telling me they won’t be taking my application any further.

Then she asked me what happened with my last paid job, why did I leave?
I told her I was fired, and the reason the manager gave me was “I was too loud to the customers”
She asked me if I agreed with that, and I said no, that I felt my voice was normal.
She then revealed that actually she felt I had a very loud kind of voice and that I naturally project my voice very well. Not ideal in a close, one-on-one situation like our interview, but it wouldn’t be out of place in, like, a theater or something.
Nobody’s ever told me that before!
I mean, Lav’s sometimes pointed out I need to use a more whispery voice sometimes when we’re cuddling in the evening and we don’t want to disturb anybody, but other than that…

She then suggested I make a cover letter explaining both my reason for being out of work so long and my tendency to have a loud voice and send it to her to review.
I tought that sounded like a good idea…no more awkward explanations at interviews about my lack of paid work history, employers will know up front what they’re dealing with, and they have a fair warning of my loud voice!

My advisor then asked me how the job’s fair went, and I told her about how I lost that leaflet for that Asda product promotion job I was interested in. She made a phone call, and got the e-mail for me. Sweet!

She then asked me to take screenshots of some of the applications I make to show her what I do to apply to jobs. No problemo, I’ll save up a folder of a few to send to her before my next sign-on with her.

In all the years I’ve been at the jobcentre, I’ve never encountered anyone helping me as much as this new advisor is trying to!
That really brings up questions about what a lot of advisors are even doing to help jobseekers…

That’s their job, they’re supposed to help us…but while at Stockport the most they’ve done to help me is lump me off to some skills course agency or a work experience placement…that’s SOMETHING but…I mean…why did nobody tell me until now I had a loud kind of voice? I coulda probably used knowing something like that a LOT sooner.
Jobs that required you to have a loud voice coulda used a natural like me.

With the dental nurse course exam fee refund around the corner and another JSA payment looming, too, Lav and I agreed to order a nice coffee table we found from Argos…we needed one to put in front of the couch so Lav had somewhere to put her cups of tea and plates of food while on her laptop and somewhere to put her laptop away when she was done with it.

So we’re in a lot more comfortable position now than we were before, and things are definitely looking more promising for my employment prospects.

Fingers crossed!

Ciao for now,
Cordially, The Blue Fox.

Posted by: bluefoxy | January 27, 2017

Time To Face The Strange…

…Ch-ch-changes!

Oh, boy…where to begin. Where. To. Be. Gin.

So as I’m getting dressed for work at RSJ Global on Monday the 9th I get a phone call.

You guys remember in my last post how I mentioned a property in Salford that Lav and I viewed?

They accepted us. They were ready for us to move in as soon as the next morning.

I was stood there just stunned for a moment, while my mom was jumping up and down next to me going “yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!” enthusiatically and I looked at Lav and she was like “Yes!” in a we-need-to-take-this kind of voice.

So I accepted and arranged to meet the agent at 10 o clock the next morning to sign the tenancy agreement.

Unfortunately Lav was doing her induction at that picker and packer job that Temps hooked her up with, so I had to go it alone.

The agent was quite understanding and said to just have her come sign her half either before 5pm when the agency closed or, failing that, the next morning.

Lav wasn’t able to make it to the rental before 5pm but when she did make it she immediately wanted to clean everything because the place was in an absolute STATE.

So we had to go on a shopping spree for cleaning products around the local Asda and Tesco.

Clearly the previous tenants either didn’t know how to clean up after themselves or just couldn’t be bothered. Just about every surface in the place was covered in some sort of dirt or dust.
In fact, we think the previous tenant might’ve been a bear because we kept finding hairs EVERYWHERE and they seemed to be magic hairs or something coz they seemed to appear on surfaces we’d already cleaned.

It took pretty much our whole first week but eventually we got pretty much everything we could cleaned up.

Lav did most of it, though, because she’s OCD about cleaning and wanted to do it a certain way, and I’m pretty confident my cleaning skills aren’t up to good standards.

In the meantime, we quickly discovered our central heating was non-operational.
We had hot water, but for some reason the radiators weren’t being activated.

We had to have the agency call in the engineers as they have a contract and it was still under warrenty. While we waited, the agency gave us some electric heaters, but those things ate through the credit on our electricity meter like crazy!

The engineer came a first time…I dunno what he did but he got the heating working…somewhat…it worked sproadically, off one day, on the next, and at seemingly random times. So we had him called in again and, so far as we know, all he did was press the reset button on the timer, and it worked perfectly…but we already tried pressing the reset button, and agents from the rental agency already tried it too…I think he must’ve done something else…or used some kind of secret engineer magic we don’t know about.

Whatever he did, it didn’t stick…soon as we switched off the boiler to conserve gas, and then switched it back on again later, boom, the heating wouldn’t work again. At all.
This time the agency had us ring the manufacturer directly to see if they can have us fix it over the phone…nope, no dice. So we got the engineer coming again this coming Monday. So we gotta use electric heaters again over the weekend. Urgh.

We also checked the brand of the boiler online for help…turns out a lot of other people with the same brand report having the same or similar problems…and it all seems to boil down to this particular brand being a cheap, poorly made hunk of junk with a complicated and temperamental timer system.

I had to can my job at RSJ Global…during the course of thier induction, I learned their pay was commission based rather than a regular salery.

My advisor from Work Solutions contacted me to ask about how the job is going, and when I mentioned the pay situation to her, she immediately raised concerns that it’s not a guaranteed income…and she’s had plenty of other people who’ve done the same kind of job working their butts off and having nothing to show for it.

She recommended I bow out right then and there as I technically hadn’t done any work yet.

I agreed. I need a job with a guaranteed income given my current situation.

She had a contact from Salford that had something that may help.

It led to an interview to be a ticket checker at Manchester Piccadilly Train Station!

7zkig

It ended up being another fill in a form and then see the interviewer deal.

When it asked for my work history, I had no choice but to be honest and say I’d been on JSA for over a decade…this, again, raised a concern from the interviewer. I used my whole “Work placements, voluntary work and courses” shpeil Caroline advised me on but I don’t think it worked. The interviewer explained he had to answer to his boss and then said he would let Work Solutions know of the outcome.
I haven’t heard anything since. I don’t think they did either. I’m gonna have to poke my advisor again.

Oh yeah and Lav wasn’t shortlisted to work at that Picker and Packer job.

So we had to do something called a “live switch” with the jobcenter to be able to sign on at the Salford one rather than have to go all the way to Stockport each time, and also let them know of our new address.

My new advisor was actually pretty helpful…first she gave me some tips on how to alter my CV…said I had to seperate unpaid work expereince from paid employment history so employers can see I’m willing to give my time and work for free…makes sense…she also said to include the months I worked rather than just the years…hmmm…well, originally I thought the short work placements might put employers off…but seen as we’re making the distinction between paid and unpaid work it might work alright.

Then she signed me up to a skills course at the Trafford Centre which she said included two week’s experience working in a placement and a guaranteed interview at the end.  She also told me of a jobsfair happening in the Salford Civic Centre for me to check out.

Guess what? The Skills course? Working towards a qualification I already had, only worded a different way…oh and there was no work experience or guaranteed interview.

There were a couple of promising stalls at the jobsfair…but I managed to lose the leaflet for one of them while just getting off the bus back home…it had an e-mail I was gonna e-mail my CV to for a decent job opportunity I think I woulda liked.
The other one was a couple of representatives from Reed. They’re gonna e-mail me with some opportunities they felt I might be interested in. We’ll see what they come up with.

We had a bit of bother with getting some internet into our new humble abode…

So we decided to get Sky since they’re the cheapest while still seeming to provide a decent service for our needs.
First, on the 18th, we missed the postman delivering our Sky Hub because our doorbell doesn’t work.
So I had to walk all the way to the post office, only to be told it won’t arrive there until the next day, which just so happened to be the day the Sky Engineer was supposed to come in.

So I had to go a second time early in the morning to arrive just as the post office opened.
So then the engineer came and tested our phone line…and said it cut off somewhere at the telephone pole…so he went to the telephone pole, and when he came back he said there was some 6-foot-tall brambles at the bottom and he needed to “make it safe” so he was gonna call landscaping or something to cut down the brambles and then call us back.
He didn’t call us back.

So we booked another appointment with Sky, and they didn’t have a slot until the 25th…the 25th eventually came, this time we got a different engineer and, after we told him our expereince with the first engineer, he assured us he would not leave until he got us sorted. He got one of his buddies to hold the ladder while he went up the pole and fixed the issue with the phone line, then helped us set up our Sky Hub…and hey, presto, our internet was working! Yay!

So…our rental doesn’t have a freezer. It has a fridge. So we can only buy fridge foods…which only stay fresh a few days…so we can only buy a little bit of food at a time.

So between all the cleaning products we had to buy, all the food we had to buy, having to pay for gas and electricity about every week at £10 a pop, having to pay for bus tickets, buying some stuff to help improve our home like a bedside stack of shelves from a furniture British Heart Foundation, a laundry basket of sorts, double bed matress covers before discovering our bed was king size and having to get THAT size matress cover, cutlery, plates, bowls, as well as having to top up our phones once in a while so we’d at least have some semblance of internet connection because we needed it for certain things like looking stuff up….yeah…all that money adds up…and it added up a little too quickly.

As I type this now…we actually don’t have enough money to pay for the next rent instalment…especially with having to pay for the gas, electricity, water, council tax and internet seperately.

What happened to claiming housing benefit?

Oh, we put a claim in for housing benefit and a council tax reduction…but after not hearing anything about our claim I phoned them up…turns out it can take anything between 8 and 10 weeks for a claim to go through because there tends to be so many to process.

Crud.

I went to a housing advice centre and asked for…well, some advice, and they said landlords and agencies that accept housing benefit should be well aware of how long it takes and should be very understanding and helpful and patient.

An idea I’ve had is to maybe ask the agency if we can pay a little bit of our due rent around the due date for now and pay the rest later when we’ve got a couple of jobseeker’s allowances lining our pockets.

And then from now on we watch our spending a bit better. Having internet now will help. It was difficult to keep an eye on our available funds without it.

Although I should really have warned Lav sooner about watching what we spend. Like…right from the beginning.

Oh we needed the food, for sure…but perhaps not all those sweets we bought…oh and maybe some of the cleaning stuff could’ve waited a bit…oh and why is it when you buy something you almost ALWAYS find it cheaper somewhere else later?!?

Man, I used to be so careful with my money for the most part…but moving to our own place has been such a big and sudden change that we’d eaten all our savings before we realised what was happening.

We’ll see if we can get some help from wherever we can.

Lav’s mom sez she’s gonna give Lav some money for her birthday after her grandfather’s funeral…don’t know if that’s gonna be much, but every little bit helps.

We read something in a leaflet with our water bill that we can have our water bill paid for us if we’re having money troubles. That should also help a little bit.

My parents plan to sell most of the stuff I don’t want or need at a tabletop sale…but they don’t have any official plans for that yet…I hope they do it soon…the money from that unwanted stuff can really help out, too.

We’ll figure something out.

Hopefully I don’t freeze to death or anything before my next update.

Until next time,

Ciao for now,
Cordially, The Blue Fox.

Posted by: bluefoxy | January 8, 2017

RKO (Really Kickass Opportunity) From Outta Nowhere!

Wow…what a week. What. A. Week.

We had to buy a dayrider on the bus pretty much for every day this past week…mind you we didn’t know when the week began that we’d be going out on the bus pretty much every day, and I didn’t realise what was happening until the week was almost over and there wasn’t much point to buying megariders for the rest of the week, so we ended up spending around £50 – £60 on bus tickets.

Mostly it was because each evening, Lav would find a rental and book a veiwing for the very next day.

So the first rental we viewed was the one in Rusholme we were viewing on New Year’s Day I mentioned in my last blog post…we met with the two current tenants…a couple of black dudes.
Turns out they’re renting from an agency which wasn’t gonna be open until the 4th.
They seemed to like us, though…we made them laugh a bit.
They said if they want us to live with them they’ll ring us back and then we can arrange to pay the deposit and a month’s rent.
They didn’t ring us back.

We were then going to view a place in Moss Side but then we realised it may not be a good idea to go for non-DSS rentals before she starts work in this picker packer job she got lined up in Clayton thanks to that Temps agency. She’s starting that this coming Tuesday.

So then, on the 3rd, on the advice of Shelter, we went to Stockport Homes to officially declare ourselves homeless because our living situation was so bad.
They asked us if my parents had said we need to leave and I said yes and went on to say they’re gonna kick us out on August.
That immediately had the Stockport Homes agent tell us we’re not an emergency as we’re not gonna be kicked out in 28 days.
Furthermore, WHY DID I SAY AUGUST?!? That’s not 6 months away, it’s 8 months away!
I know why…because my mind still thinks August is the middle of the year because I had school summer holidays in August when I was younger. Goddammit.

A lot of private landlords and agencies are asking for a reference and a history of having rented from a landlord in the last 12 months…
See, if we had known all this stuff about how Housing Benefit works and how some rentals require a recent renting history when we left Dave’s place we most likely would have had our own place for a long time by now.

Our problem is we just assume we know what’s what and not ask any questions about anything and just give up and make incorrect assumptions that we have no chance for anything and get punished by karma for it. So we gotta stop doing that.

So on the 4th we went to view a property in Salford…turns out they just want the deposit and 1 month’s rent…after that we can just apply for housing benefit from Salford Council.

Then we went to Manchester Council about our situation but they forced us to reveal we had until May to find something, which meant to them that we didn’t have emergency need for a place, just like Stockport Homes.

Then, when we had arrived home, from out of nowhere I got a couple of phone calls.

Both of them from companies inviting me for a job interview.

One was a company called Prestige Promotions,
The other was a company called RSJ Global.

Both liked my CV.

Yeah, this is the result of me applying to a bunch of places like crazy, as suggested by Lav, via CV library the previous evening.

So on the 5th I went to my interviews…though both were not quite what I was expecting.

I was expecting a one-on-one thing where I’m asked all the usual questions…I had even prepared a script of some questions to expect and answers to give to those questions and practised it like crazy to make sure I remember what to say.

When I arrived at my first interview with Prestige Promotions, what ended up happening was first they had a group of us sitting in a reception filling in some form, then they invited us into a seperate room for the actual interview two at a time.

The interviewer asked us questions based off what we put on the form to get more details, and also asked about our work history and experiences and who we are as a person.

All was going quite well…the interviewer even said both I and the girl she invited into the room with me were “blank canvasses” who would be easy to train and wouldn’t likely fall back into the usual routines of retail and sales, as that’s not what they want in their line of work.

They promoted a fun workspace…the receptionist had music playing and was singing along to some of the songs. This lines up quite well with my belief that people of any age work well when the work is made fun.

But then the interviewer asked me when my last paid job was…I wasn’t ready for this and answered with the truth…that I’d wasted over 10 years of my life as far as paid employment is concerned.

She immediately told me that this was a huge concern…and at the end, because of this exact concern, she trold me I wouldn’t be invited back for the second round of interviews…

Bummer.

So I went home for lunch and relayed this information to Lav face-to-face and to Caroline from Work Solutions via e-mail.
Lav suggested I pretend I had some personal problems I’d rather not talk about if I have to specifically say I’d been out of paid work for 10 years, but I still worked to keep my skills as fresh as possible. I felt that sounded believeable.
Caroline suggested that when asked about my work history to talk about the voluntary work I’d done for over a year of my life as well as the skills courses I’d been on.

Armed with these suggestions, I headed to my second interview with RSJ Global.

Again, I had to sit in a room with a group of other people and fill in a form…then, pretty much once  was done I was invited to speak with the interviewer.

One of the things he asked about was indeed my work history, but he didn’t specifically ask about when I last had a paid job, so I was able to use Caroline’s advice to talk about my voluntary work and courses to improve my skills. That seemed to impress him.

So much so that later in the afternoon I got a phone call inviting me back for the second round of interviews the next day!

The second round of interviews was quite fun and interesting. first they started out with an icebreaker where they asked our names, an interesting fact about ourselves and if we could be any animal in the world, what would we be?

Well, for an interesting fact I went with my birthday being on rememberence day…as for animal…well we all already know what I picked, don’t we?

They then explained about what the company does. Sales and Marketing. Helping other companies sell their product to new customers either via going to events, going company to company or by going door-to-door and speaking to people directly.

Afterwards, the interviewers saw people from the group two at a time like Prestige did.

This time I got paired with a rather timid and quiet female applicant, who, I’ll be honest, only served to make me seem even more confident than I already was.

Yeah, I pretty much knew I got the job even before I got the call later that afternoon.

Lav and I went to view a place in Bramhall.

The place itself was amazing. The room was quite big, there was an awesome glass desk just waiting for my computer to sit on it, the home owners were quite pleasent, and there were a couple of kitty-cats there! they also had a big ol’ fish tank and informed us they had three dogs in the back somewhere…we didn’t see the dogs but were told they can be quite…boisterous.

Unfortunately it was a bit further away from the main road to Manchester than I thought, and the buses there proved quite unreliable as the bus back to Stockport was 20 minutes late. Good thing my weirdness had kicked in and stopped us from saying yes right at the place and gave us time to think and see these issues, or we’d have been stuck with the inconvinient location and unrelaible buses and liable to arrive to work late.

My mom had gone to Primark to get me some smart shirts to try because I didn’t have any proper smart shirts for work…with her help, we discovered I was a collar 17…but just 1 smart shirt is not enough, obviously. Luckily Primark has them at only a fiver each, which is pretty cheap.

So yesterday Lav and I went to the Primark in Manchester to get more cheap smart shirts for my work.
We also got a couple of pairs of smart pants and some new belts to go with them.

We chose the Manchester Primark for two reasons…one, they were likely to have more of a choice of clothes than the one in Stockport…and two, we had yet another rental to view close to Manchester in an area called Moston.

But then the en suite room we were interested in was poached right from under our noses literally minutes before the lady showed up to show us the place. Like, she had JUST got the phone call from the landlord before she turned up on the street as we were waiting.

Bummer. That place would’ve been so perfect, not just because the room was quite spacious, had a table I can use for a computer desk and everything else we needed, but also because it was just an amazingly convinient location…just a short walk from Clayton where Lav is working, and frequent buses that could get me to Manchester quickly.

Oh well, there’s always more properties to view…and now that I have a sales and marketing job after some training starting Monday and Lavander could well have a packer job after an induction that’s starting on Tuesday, we can pretty much just go for any rental we like and not worry about Housing Benefit anymore!

Yep, we’re off to one heck of a start to 2017!

Yay!

Ciao for now,
Cordially, The Blue Fox.

Posted by: bluefoxy | January 1, 2017

Happy 2017

Ok, wow…what a year 2016 was. What. A. Year. Holy frijoles, it was a long one.
Feels more like two years, at least!

Eh…screw the list of things I’d like to do over the year I made last New Year’s Day. I failed all but one of them and that was to switch to Barclays bank.

I think the whole set myself up for a YouTube career thing needs to be put on indefinite hold until we’re nicely set up with our own place and our own lives and everything is settled down again.

I suppose I can work on it a little here and there if I have time to kill and don’t feel like doing anything else, but other than that…yeah, there’s more important things to take care of first.

So what actually did happen this past year?

Well, among other things, as I mentioned, I’m with Barclays now. Couldn’t be happier with that.

We went to Romania for a week back in June. That was quite the trip.

And then the UK had that big ol’ referendum vote. Oh my sweet omnipotent deity, if I could go back in time and undo something, it would be to go back and warn everybody I could that Brexit was and is not such a good idea.
I’m holding on to hope that this supposed UK supreme court ruling that the referendum was done illegally converts into a ruling that Theresa May can’t go ahead with it.

We found Lav a job for half a year but she was struggling to cope with it so we got her out.

We then found a course to have her become a dental nurse but we realised right now is not the best time for her to take it. She needs an actual, proper, full time job, not a traineeship.
Even though she told them she wants out, they’re not doing refunds and they still want her to pay the extra fees for the exams she’s not going to take. Urgh.

A Jobs Fair at Stockport Town Hall got me in touch with Work Solutions to work me towards getting a paid job. I need all the help I can get, I suppose. They’ve already helped me with some fresh retail course certificates from Job Gym and some improvements to my CV.
They’ve now set me up with some work at a charity shop in Stockport starting with an interview on the 6th of January. They’re gonna have me do an interview prep on the 5th so I’m ready for it.

I don’t know if I should go through with that arrangement, though…

You see, Lav and I realise we really, REALLY need to find our own place to live A.S.A.NOW!!!

We just can’t continue living in my parent’s house any longer than we have to.

It’s just way too inconvenient, especially for Lav.

EVERY time she tries to use the bathroom for anything, my dad needs to use it and complains that she’s hogging it. And he doesn’t seem to need it ANY other time. I swear it’s deliberate.
Even when he’s out of the house, if she pops in the bathroom, he suddenly arrives home and immediately needs the toilet.
We’ve even tried asking him beforehand if he needs to use the toilet at all before Lav uses it, and he’s said no, he’s fine, but then 5 minutes later when she’s in there, he’s pacing outside sighing angrily and cussing to himself that it’s occupied.
It’s fricking ridiculous!
It seems to be only affecting her, though.
Other than that, there hasn’t really been any toilet-related clashes.
Also, my dad gets so drunk every night that when he uses the bathroom he leaves his …well… ”leavings” all over the place…on the toilet seat, on the sink…sometimes even on the floor and walls. He should be classified as a toxic hazard and we should have men in hazmat suits coming to decontaminate everything.
Lav is very upset by it. She’s even saying we’re gonna have to go out on the streets just to get out of this situation because of the problems with my dad. But then, what’s she supposed to do for a bathroom and a place to change for work?
Yeah, she has another job lined up in January thanks to one of the job agencies she signed up to.
We don’t have all the details yet, but regardless, she needs the bathroom so she can get cleaned up and ready for work each day when that job starts, which she can’t do when we’re stuck with my parents like this.
Originally we were hoping she’d just have to wake up early in the morning just to have some time free in the bathroom, but nope, just this morning my dad had to wake up for the bathroom early in the morning too, so we can’t even rely on that anymore!
Also, my dad seems to get angry quite easily, especially when drunk, and his anger scares poor Lav.
We’ve raised these concerns about my dad with my mum, but she just laughed and said to just ignore him…um…exactly how does she propose we do that?

Places that accept housing benefit near Stockport are just very hard to find, it seems.
However, there appears to be a whole bunch up in Oldham! At first, I was a bit unwilling to go all the way to Oldham for a place to live, but…well…when you’re desperate as we are…I guess I may have to step out of my comfort zone of living in the Stockport area all my life…and besides, it may only be for a little while until Lav’s been at her job for a bit and maybe I find some work too and then we can grab whatever rental we damn well please.

We asked on Reddit for some advice about our situation as well, and they suggested we contact Shelter for some advice too.

We did that, and they told us we can speak directly to the council for help with our situation.
They said our situation can be classified as straight up homeless since it’s so bad.

Regardless, we gotta wait at least a few more days yet. Everywhere that can help us with housing is shut for the Christmas and New Year Period and won’t be open until the 3rd.

Yeah, it doesn’t help that we only found out off Luna about getting Housing Benefit to pay the whole rent for a fairly decent place in the run-up to Christmas. Not a good period of time to be trying to deal with this sort of thing.

If only either of us had thought of asking her how she got her place sooner. Granted, she got it because she happened to be friends with the landlord (HOW?!?!?) but maybe she would’ve given us some tips on how we can find our own place sooner, and we may have had something by now!

Eh…no matter…we just didn’t know. Learn from your mistakes.

We just gotta survive until the 3rd…then hopefully we can quickly find a solution to our housing problem.

…so yeah…we may end up living in Oldham…which doesn’t make it too convenient for that Work Solutions work experience placement in a charity shop in Stockport, now, does it? Hopefully we can find something in or near Stockport first.

In the meantime, later today as I type this, we’re gonna go view a place in Rusholme. It doesn’t accept DSS but Lav is hoping we could pay the deposit and one month’s rent for it and then pay subsequent months with the salary she’ll be getting at this job she has lined up in January.

It looks quite the bargain actually. Very modern and nice looking for only £410 a month for couples.
We’re getting a little over £450 a month from Jobseeker’s so we should be able to afford it long enough for Lav’s salary to take over at least. We just gotta not tell them we’re technically on Jobseeker’s now and will be getting the job later. I don’t think the landlord would like that.

So yeah. That’s our plan for 2017.

  1. Get our own place as soon as we possibly can.
  2. Since Lav already has a job lined up, get me into paid work somehow.

Anything we can do beyond that is a bonus.

Ciao For Now,

Cordially, The Blue Fox.

Posted by: bluefoxy | December 11, 2016

Dream Ultimatum Solution

Sunday 13th November 2016

Lav and I had a walk around Etherow Country Park with my parents. Just a nice jaunt for some exercise and fresh air.

Tuesday 15th November 2016

Finally got some warm-ish clothes for Lav plus some new slippers for us both coz she didn’t have any and my old ones were wasted. Our feet will be much more comfortable indoors now.

Wednesday 16th November 2016

So I had a dream last night.

In the dream there were these anthropomorphic pigs…they were kind of cartoony, I guess.

Anyway, these pigs were at this fun fair / carnival kind of deal.

Now, at first the dream was about this one pig trying to ask a girl pig, who works at one of the booths, out on a date…I don’t remember if I dreamt any outcome of that.

Then the dream changes to about how all the stalls or booths have signs on them. Well, they were not really signs, they more like sheets of A4 paper stuck to the window with words printed on them.

And it was always two sheets of paper, one stuck above another, and the paper that was below told you what the ride or booth was, for example, the ticket booth, or the shooting gallery, the ghost train, the hall of mirrors, the rollercoaster, etc…

…then the piece of paper above it would instruct the pigs what to do there…only it wasn’t something like “get your tickets at” above the sign saying “the ticket booth” or “shoot the ducks at” above the sign saying “the shooting gallery”…

…it was weird instructions like “whisper at” or “shout at” or “both at”…

…and the pigs would actually be obeying these instructions, too!

The really weird part is the instruction signs kept getting swapped around the different booths somehow.

I remember the ticket booth starting out with one sign, I don’t remember what it said, and then it switched to “Whisper at” so this pig was there whispering at the pig in the ticket booth that he would like some tickets or something…

…then the sign changed to “both at” and I remember this because I remember there suddenly being two pigs side by side at the ticket booth, and then it switched to “shout at”, at which point the two pigs were screaming for the attention of the pig in the ticket booth because he wasn’t hearing them up until now or something. I think he was reading a newspaper on the job.

That’s about all I remember of the dream.

Friday 18th November 2016

Work Solutions has started doing these coffee mornings and they invited me to join.

Looks like this was actually the first one at Stockport…one of the advisors running it had done them at another Work Solutions elsewhere and had decided to bring them here.

Anyway, me and a small group of other people that’re getting help from Work Solutions just had a talk about random stuff.

Stuff like hospitals reducing in number and size cause of lack of funding in the health industry.

We also discussed the idea of going on group walks out to various places and we all suggested a few places the group could go, like parks and museums and other attractions…something to do in the New Year and when they wrangle in more people to the coffee morning.

The coffee morning is gonna be happening every Friday morning. I guess it’ll be one way to get out more and hopefully even make some new friends.

Friday 25th November 2016

2nd coffee morning…we just came up with a few more places the group could go in the New Year.

Sunday 27th November 2016

I had another dream last night.

I dreamt I was looking out what I believe to be my bedroom window, only the world outside the bedroom window in my dream is a whole lot different to how it looks in the real world. I’ll get to how it looked different in a minute.

Anyway, I get this sort of bird’s eye view of this guy…he had, like, a grey goatee, and I think he was wearing some kinda baseball hat and a green, tatty trench coat…I think he might’ve been a dream-hobo or something, come to think of it.

Anyway, this guy has this toy with him…this toy looked like a penguin centaur…seriously, from the front it probably would look like a normal penguin toy, but from the side you could see it’s body extended back to an extra pair of foot flippers.

And it was like a wind-up walking toy, and this guy was winding it up and had it walking along the top of the brick wall at the back of the garden.

Side note: My garden in real life has fences, not walls…also, the back of it is a lot further away in real life than it seemed in my dream. There, that’s my explanation as to how the world outside was different.

Now, the thing is, along the top of the brick wall was like this long stone brick that was carved into a triangle shape pointing up…so, as you might imagine, this caused the toy to fall off the wall with every attempt to make it walk along it.

I remember each time the toy fell off, the guy would vault over the wall to retrieve it, wind it up and set it walking again, only for it to fall again, so he’d have to vault over the wall again to retrieve it…rinse and repeat.

That’s about all I can remember.

Tuesday 29th November 2016

So it turns out Work Solutions had changed their rules to be able to help people that’ve been out of work for 3 months instead of 6, so now they can help Lav with finding a dental practice! We could use all the help we can get!

She’s got her first appointment with them this Friday.

Wednesday 30th November 2016

Had the hep B blood test at Stepping Hill today.

Hopefully the Hep B vaccines worked. We’ll see what they say in 10 days.

The jobcentre has booked me into an initial assessment with Working Well.

Looks like Working Well are pretty much doing everything Work solutions is doing with me.

After this initial assessment, I don’t have to go to Working Well anymore if I don’t want to.

The appointment is on the 23rd of December. I didn’t think they’d do one so close to Christmas.

Thursday 1st December 2016

I got some new pillows and pillowcases from Asda, since they were very cheap. Only 3 quid for the pillows and 2 pound for each pack of cases. Got a couple of packs of cases so we have plenty to change to when we change our sheets.

Friday 2nd December 2016

Lav’s now signed up to Work Solutions.

Hopefully they can help her find a Dental Nurse Trainee vacancy.

Saturday 3rd December 2016

So this happened;

Wednesday 7th December 2016

So my mum has given us an ultimatum.

Either we both find ourselves a job…be it voluntary, paid or whatever…or she’s kicking us out of the house in 6 months’ time.

She doesn’t even care if we end up in a homeless shelter…she wants us gone.

To be honest, we needed this kick up the backside to get into gear and do the things we’ve been meaning to do.

Things like me signing up to CV Library and Linked In.

That’s good for a start.

I got some CVs to hand into stores down Stockport, too.

I also gotta go to Jobwise and Adecco and see how they can help.

And there’s still Work Solutions doing what they can to help as well.

Thursday 8th December 2016

O…M…G

So Lav had been telling me to try texting Luna so see what’s going on…and I managed to strike up a conversation with Luna in texts…and I wound up telling Luna about our situation…and SHE revealed that Housing Benefit should be able to cover the ENTIRE cost of a rental, not just a small portion of it like we were told before.

Had we asked in STOCKPORT for help rather than in MANCHESTER, we probably would’ve already had our own place by now.

Heck, had we asked LUNA how she got her place sooner, again, we would’ve probably had our own place by now.

She told us to ask Fred Perry House behind the town hall for some advice.

Well, we’re going down Stockport for the Work solutions Coffee Morning tomorrow anyway.
Might as well head up to Fred Perry House afterwards.

Friday 9th December 2016

Fred Perry House said get a place that accepts benefits first, then show them the rent agreement, and sent us to Stockport Homes office back down the hill a bit.

Stockport Homes told us to sign up on their website.

So that’s what we did once we got home. We should hear from them within 10 days if our application was successful, then we can bid for some places.

Sunday 11th December

After much discussion on the subject, Lav and I have agreed that she should leave her dental nurse course. She needs to get a proper job right away…a traineeship doesn’t really count as a proper job.

She needs to be able to apply for anything she wants, rather than be restricted to struggling with finding a dental nurse trainee vacancy.

There’s no point in remaining stuck in this course for a year when we can just go apply for any job and be paid pretty much the same salary.

It’s only money, anyway…we’ll make up what we spent on the course in just one month!

That’s about all I have to update you on so far.

My next post will be the New Year’s Day post I do every year. That’s coming up thick and fast!

So, until then,

Ciao for now,
Cordially, The Blue Fox.

Posted by: bluefoxy | November 11, 2016

Anniversary Of Birth Number 28

Monday 17th October 2016

Day 1 of the call centre course started off with an ice breaker, of course, where we told each other a bit about ourselves…and it turned out the guy teaching us used to work for WWE and TNA and even The Jeremy Kyle Show!
We got a bit of insider knowledge that some of the Jeremy Kyle staff were actually hired to wind guests up with whatever the other people were saying…they didn’t completely make up stories, per say, but they probably did some embellishing on a lot of them.

Then the day consisted of the group trying to figure out how to balance 12 nails on top on one single nail embedded in a block of wood.

One guy on the course had done it before, apparently, and produced an interlocking technique that worked perfectly.

Then we has to pretend we were terrorists planning to blow up a road.

Guess we just wanted to annoy the council with a new pothole.

The point was that even terrorism requires careful planning with a team of people in different areas of expertise, demolitions expert, electrical experts, communications experts, etcetera, with proper organisation.

Tuesday 18th October 2016

Group did some practice calls to each other, all of us pretending to be a company that sources hot dogs and anything to do with hot dogs.

Some of the group had a laugh with it.

I think I had one of the better scripts prepared.

I managed to get the third longest total talk and average time of the group on the tracker the tutor set up tracking how long our calls took, how many calls we did, etcetera.

Wednesday 19th October 2016

Did some more fake calls within the group pretending to be customers complaining to John Lewis agents about some missing PS4s or ordering some luggage from the website.

Then a maths tutor came in and did some maths with us to illustrate how employers may track employee performance.

The day ended with a bit on data protection and being careful about who you give the info to.

Thursday 20th October 2016

Did some live calls to some actual people on behalf of Job Gym.

We called some local garages to see if they’ll accept some e-mails from the marketing department about some government-funded initiatives where they send students for some practical work at those garages.

I didn’t think there were all that many garages around, but actually there were a few smaller, hidden, unknown one-man businesses hidden around Greater Manchester.

Friday 21st October 2016

Listened back to some of our calls from yesterday, finding out what needs to be improved.

Then we tried some more live calls today, but got a lot of folks we called responding with not interested or too busy. Must have been that Friday end-of-the-week feeling, I guess.

Tuesday 25th October 2016

Went to Work Solutions to work on my CV using the tips from Job Gym as a guide, refined with Work Solutions guidance.

Because my CV mentions some experience with radio, I mentioned the leaflet I took from the Jobs Fair advertising a radio course.

My advisor wants to see it at the next appointment on 10th November.

I also voiced my concerns that my CV looks kind of random and unfocused, but my advisor assured me most of my skills actually complement each other quite nicely, and any out of place ones just show I’m willing to branch out and try new things.

Monday 31st October 2016

Lav + I took a trip to Manchester to see how long it would take to get to the dental nurse course location.

Looks like it takes a little over an hour.

We then did some shopping and bought some new foods to try.

Today we tried pasta with pasta sauce and cheese with a chicken slice sandwich on the side.

It was interesting, something different, rather than having chips or potato waffles all the time.

Tuesday 1st November 2016

Had such a chicken meal today. Chicken soup and a sandwich with chicken slices and some kind of chicken “jam I guess you can call it. It had apricots in it, apparently. Not the kind of thi9ng you’d expect to see coupled with chicken, I wouldn’t think.

Thursday 3rd November 2016

Phone call from my Work Solutions advisor.

Apparently I’d been booked on another retail course.

Gotta get a mega rider voucher off them tomorrow.

Saturday 5th November 2016

Lav had her first day on her dental nurse course.

Bit of an icebreaker followed by some explanations as to what the job requires her to do.

Judging by the explanations, it sounds like she’ll have a lot to do and she has to work fast.

But hopefully Lav should be able to handle it all. They should give her time to learn the role a bit when she’s starting out with any job she gets, at least.

Monday 7th November 2016

Turns out this retail course Work Solutions put me on might be working towards a certificate I already have.

I gotta bring in my certificate to show them tomorrow and see if it’s the right one.

If it is…well, I don’t need this course…not much point working for a qualification I already got, eh?

Tuesday 8th November 2016

Yep. It’s the right certificate. That’s me off the course, then.

Thursday 10th November 2016

So my Work Solutions advisor pulled some wellbeing exercises for me to do at home.

First off, I need to try drinking more liquids coz I don’t think I’m drinking enough.

She showed me a sort of drinks bottle, which she said is a good measure of half a litre or something like that. She said it’s recommended you drink 2 litres of liquid a day. So four juice bottles full, pretty much.

I just so happen to have a couple of tango juice bottles at home so I can use those and put some still orange juice in them. Three of those, combined with my normal tea drinking habits, because tea is mostly water, should do the trick.

She also told me I need to exercise more, get more active. Plus I should look up some social groups in my area to join. And try and make some new friends.

Then Lav and I went to the three store and got me a nice, shiny, new smart phone. A Samsung Galaxy J3. It’s not the latest phone, but apparently the latest Samsung Galaxy is all over the news as being prone to EXPLODE IN YOUR FACE, so yeah.

Plus this was going fairly cheap…only £120 plus they added another £10 top up. I also got a flip wallet for it to keep it relatively protected in my pocket. I’ve seen lots of people using their phones in flip-wallets, so I thought I’d hop on that bandwagon. Might as well splash out the extra £15. Why not?

So yeah…finally got an upgrade from my wasted ZTE F390, I think it’s called, to a proper android smartphone! Yay!

Then Lav and I went food shopping and got me a chocolate cake and some custard to pour onto it for my birthday tomorrow. That’s gonna be delicious.

Friday 11th November 2016

Urgh…I’ve just completely lost all manner of excitement for birthdays since quite a while now. I think everybody loses that the second they become a teenager…and then it’s just all downhill from there…it gets worse every year, according to my parents. Not looking forward to that. Nope.

I wish I had the power to just stop ageing and live forever young.

I guess that’s all I have for this blog post.

Till next time,

Ciao for now,

Cordially, The Blue Fox.

Posted by: bluefoxy | October 16, 2016

Claims, Courses and Call Centres

Dangit, I completely forgot to update my blog at the end of September.

Oh, well…It’s not like I necessarily HAVE to update at the end of every month.

Let’s get started…

Wednesday 7th September 2016

Jobcentre says Lav was actually taken right off my claim for some reason. That’s weird, they said they would only put things on hold while she was in work.

Anyway, we have to start a new claim from scratch. <Sarcasm> Joy. </sarcasm>

We had a look at laptops in PC world. We found an Asus that would be perfect if only it had a quad-core processor instead of just a dual-core, but it’d do fine for tiding Lav over until we got a job and more money. Definitely be better than the old wasted laptop I gave her.

Monday 12th September 2016

Lav’s 2nd Hep B vaccine. One more to go. Then it’s the blood test. Then the year-long wait for the booster the accelerated dosage requires.

Tuesday 13th September 2016

Lav found a smexy-looking green gaming laptop from Argos for a reasonable price, except it appears to be out of stock everywhere, so she sent them an e-mail to try and find out why.

Wednesday 14th September 2016

Lav and I had our jobcentre interview to re-start our claim.

They booked her in to a group meeting to discuss useless stuff we kind of already know.

Friday 16th September 2016

Yep, the group session was about as useless as expected. On the bright side, we found some leaflets advertising a jobs fair next Tuesday. We can go to that see if there’s anything we can go for.

Monday 19th September 2016

Lav and I went shopping for some smart clothes and shoes for me to wear to the jobs fair and any other employment-related stuff I go to.

We saw a crane driving down the street. There’s something you don’t see every day.

We both thought the boom arm was gonna knock our heads clean off!

We also saw a kingfisher flying down the river from the bridge across to the Peel Centre.

Tuesday 20th September 2016

Lav and I went to the jobs fair. I guess it was fairly productive.

Applied to TK Maxx there.

Got some info on some websites and other stuff to check out.

I was also approached by a lady who recognised me from my time at Seetec.

She’s now working for a place called Work Solutions…she reckons they can help me get a job.

They’re gonna help me with stuff like Interview techniques and freshening up my CV and hopefully find me some fresh work experience, too. Well, I could do with all the help I can get, so I signed up.

Thursday 22nd September 2016

Well, this Work Solutions gaffe certainly seem to know what they’re doing.

They had me do some English and Maths tests, of course, but they also did a kind of personality test and a test to see what kind of teaching method I respond to best.

Maybe I can finally get some proper help to get a proper job!

Monday 26th September 2016

Went to Work Solutions again to review the results of my tests and make a plan of action.

Their personality test revealed I had silver stars in everything…even a gold star in one aspect! The only aspect I didn’t have a gold star in is something they think is a result of me being out of work so much, so really I just need a job!

I’m to e-mail my advisor my CV and cover letter template to see if they need improving at all and to also speak with someone from the National Careers Service to see if they got any retail or Customer Service courses I can go to in order to boost my CV a little bit.

Wednesday 28th September 2016

Today I got a very unusual phone call…

Let me try to explain it as best I can from what I understand…

So the woman on the other end was talking about how folks who have travelled with an airline on an all-inclusive holiday (all-inclusive meaning hotel and food) within the past couple of years or so are eligible for a refund of at least £1,500 per passenger.

This is due to, as I understand it, some kind of investigation that found that some European airlines were not up to modern standards of health and safety and other such legislation.

So she started asking me if I’d been on an all-inclusive holiday.

Well, as a matter of fact, I had. My girlfriend and I took a trip to Romania last June to visit her family as she’s originally from there.

We booked it through Wizzair and were able to add a hotel booking and a taxi ride to the hotel through their website for over half the price of what it would cost booking the three separately. Set us back a little over five hundred quid in total if memory serves me correctly.

So once I informed her of this, she simply asked me for my e-mail address so she can send me an e-mail with some information.

She then explained that, at no point, will they ask for any of my personal bank details or anything, simply the booking confirmation details and ATOL certificate of my flight, and my National Insurance Number. (NINO is a red flag right there…preeeetty sure I’m not supposed to give THAT out to pretty much ANYONE outside of the jobcentre and the bank)

Then her manager is supposed to ring me and forward me to their legal department to finalise everything and get a cheque sent off in the mail to my home address.

This all seems very fishy to my girlfriend (who was listening in on the call) and I for a few reasons.

One, It’s completely out of the blue random.

Two, that trip to Romania? Yeah, we booked it through an account my GF had already set up on the Wizzair website (from when she first came to England from Romania) with HER e-mail, HER details, HER phone number…I was just her plus one, pretty much. No real details, just my name. That’s it. Oh, and they didn’t really mention ANYTHING about my girlfriend being on their system. Oh and wouldn’t it make more sense to try calling her in the first place?

Three…I’ve been getting a few random phone calls recently telling me they had me on their database that I had a credit card, and I could be eligible for something they call “funds due” on that. Insert Family Fortunes wrong buzzer here I’ve never had a credit card in my life for fear it’ll open me up for a big shove into a pit of debt.

It’s likely I’ve been getting these calls lately because my mum put up an ad on Gumtree on my behalf to sell some stuff I don’t use and/or need and included my mobile number to contact me.

Huh…would you look at that…I checked my e-mail inbox for the e-mail they’re supposed to send me, and here it is!

I have made no edits beyond minor formatting alterations and censorship of sensitive info to protect the innocent and/or guilty.

I’m probably not the only one that’s hearing a robot voice as I read this;

– Good Afternoon

– Following our recent telephone conversation, I would just like to give you the following information.

– The Travel Advisory Line works along ATOL protected tour operators throughout the UK. We have a list of over 10,000 hotels and resorts, which in the last 3 years, at one time or another, have failed in food and hygiene checks. As a result there has been refunds set up for anyone who has travelled to the affected resorts and hotels.

– We have all the relevant details necessary to proceed with your application.

– Holiday: Romania All Inclusive

– Date: 2015 (Note: I accidentally told her 2015 because the trip feels so long ago now)

– Tour Operator: Wizz Air

– Please reply to this email with a copy of your booking confirmation and ATOL certificate and preferable contact time for my manager to contact yourself.

  • Full Booking Confirmation – This will be in your email inbox and should have been sent to you at the time or around the time you booked the holiday. If the holiday was booked in-store you would receive paper copes of the documents.
  • ATOL Certificate – Once again this is emailed to you around the date you booked the holiday. If you booked it through either Thomas Cook, Thomson or First Choice, then you will not have been issued an ATOL Certificate, as all holidays with these tour operators are ATOL protected and will have been full package holidays.

– Wizz Air Customer Services: -[number redacted]-

– Once we have received your booking confirmation and ATOL certificate, my manger will call you to process your refund. If you have any problems or queries regarding the process, please do not hesitate to call us on -[number redacted]- and ask for myself -[name of lady who called me]- or my manager -[manager name]-, and we will be more than happy to assist you in completing your application. If the line is busy for any reason please do not hesitate to email myself and ask for a call back.

– Thank you for your time and we look forward to speaking with you very soon.

– Kind Regards,

-[name of lady who called me]- (Travel Advisor)

– TRAVEL ADVISORY LINE Tel: -[number redacted]-

www.traveladvisoryline.co.uk

…yeah, after we thought about things a little bit, we realised this is a very obvious scam…

But yeah…plane holidays, that’s a new one.

Usually it’s PPI or something like that.

Her manager rang back the next day asking for our booking confirmation, and I told him I felt things were a bit fishy and got him to get me off their records.

Monday 3rd October 2016

So I had my meeting with the NCS agent and she differed me to Job Gym for a Customer Service course they got starting next Monday.

Lav + I ended up ordering an MSI gaming laptop we found for her. According to the specs, it should be just as powerful as my desktop. Pretty amazing considering the very reasonable price tag it had.

Should arrive tomorrow.

Tuesday 4th October 2016

Yay! Lav got her smexy new gaming laptop! No more being frustrated at the old wasted one!

Wednesday 5th October 2016

Got new computer mice (one for me, too) a laptop tray and an Ethernet cable for Lav’s new laptop.

Saturday 8th October 2016

We both got Team Fortress 2 and played a few practice rounds to learn the controls.

We need to get good before we enter multiplayer.

Sunday 9th October 2016

We both got Minecraft, now, too. Though we had to buy it twice to we both could have the full, non-demo version that we could play on separate accounts. Now we just gotta figure out how to get both of us playing the same world.

Monday 10th October 2016

Job Gym had me do English, Maths and IT assessments, then had me fill in my details on a form for their system.

Then there was a presentation explaining what Job Gym do to help me and the other people there get in work.

The course is gonna be 9 – 4 over the next 4 days. Kind of simulating a work shift, I guess.

Tuesday 11th October 2016

The teacher at Job Gym taught me some interesting things about CVs and cover letters.

Apparently you got to constantly update your CV, keep it fresh and tailor it to whatever job you’re applying for…I don’t know how, exactly, you tailor your CV to each job, but I’m sure I’ll find out as we go along.

Here’s a funny thing…we also got to view the CVs of 8 applicants for the position of President of the United States, and pick one to take the job in our group of four.

My group pretty quickly figured out which CVs were Trump and Clinton so they were out.

In the end they seemed to pick one candidate purely because they had some pet dogs. That’s nice an’ all, but not exactly the basis for who makes a good president.

I didn’t really get a good enough look at all the CVs to make an informed choice…I was gonna pick someone based on them having a lot of political experience…it didn’t dawn on me that it was a sign they may be advanced in years until it was revealed at the end which CV belonged to who…

…I was gonna pick Bernie Sanders!

Wednesday 12th October 2016

I don’t really remember what we were taught today.

Thursday 13th October 2016

I was interviewed by a work coach today. He mostly spoke to me about my CV and what he thought should be done to improve it…bearing in mind the CV he was reviewing was ALREADY altered by the teacher of the course I was on!

He pretty much wanted it reverted it back to the way I had it originally, only with a bit more bulk to my personal profile, a few suggestions for what to include in my key skills, and to add Hobbies and Interests.

Oh, and I learned I’ll be doing a call centre / telephone manner course next week. <Sarcasm> Joy </sarcasm>

I suppose I’m gonna have to look into call centre work if I’m ever gonna have a hope of getting a job.

Then my group of 4 had to design a board game.

We came up with something kind of similar to Trivial Pursuit, only for young kids. Easy Maths and English questions for the kids to answer. Get it right, advance a space, get it wrong, go back a space.

There were also some random cards which were just instructions to go back spaces, move forward spaces and miss a turn, stuff like that.

Friday 14th October 2016

Today we learned about what workers are entitled to by law in the workplace, such as a contract clearly stating their responsibilities in the job, their salary, breaks, holidays, sick pay, stuff like that, and the responsibilities of the worker to do their job and do it well.

As part of that, we covered bits about Health and Safety, as well as equality and diversity.

I think that just about covers everything that’s happened so far.

So, until next time,

Ciao for now,

Cordially, The Blue Fox.

Posted by: bluefoxy | August 31, 2016

Jabs, Jobs and Jaunts

Tuesday 2nd August 2016

So Lav had the first of 3 Hepatitis B vaccines…turns out it’s in the arm like any other vaccine…I guess that stuff about it being in the thigh is for babies or something.

Apparently it wasn’t too bad either…it helped that I kept her distracted, I guess.

The next one is on September 12th.

Sunday 7th August 2016

My parents decided we should all go for a walk up Werneth Low.

We didn’t really see anything interesting like a bird of prey or a skylark but it’s still a nice walk up there.

Wednesday 10th August 2016

I managed to get back in contact with Luna again…and among the things we talked about she told me that, employment-wise, her boyfriend was in a similar situation I was, but had signed up to a course with a guaranteed interview at the end…she suggested I ask the jobcentre about that and see if they can hook me up with something.

So today I asked my advisor…unfortunately all the ones they had available at the moment were either fully booked, the start date had already passed, or not in a realm of employment I’m interested in.

However, they DO have a jobs fair next Wednesday, so she signed me up to that.

Can take some of me CVs down see if I find anybody worth handing them in to.

Another thing we talked about was when we can hang out in real life so she can meet Lav.

We arranged something for next week Thursday.

Gonna be soooo awesome!

Wednesday 17th August 2016

So I went to the jobs fair, but…it was pretty naff.

It was mostly call centre stuff and care home stuff…nothing for me.

Oh…I finished another arty endeavour.

blurple20heart20snuggles_zpsqbna9oll

Thursday 18th August 2016

Lav had a bit of anxiety about meeting Luna for the first time at first…she got all panicky and scared and stayed quiet, but eventually she calmed down and opened up enough to get some words in before we all had to part ways again.

It was awesome to hang out with Luna again, and we’re hoping to do so more in the future soon as they know what’s going on with this warehouse job her boyfriend’s got.

Tuesday 30th August 2016

Managed to ring jobcentre and tell them of the change of circumstance, specifically Lav resigning work. They said we need to fill in a form and get a P45 from the care home.

Guess we need to sort out the P45 first coz we don’t have that yet…

So I guess that’s pretty much all that happened up until this point in time.

Ciao for now,

Cordially, The Blue Fox.

Posted by: bluefoxy | July 30, 2016

Injecting Some Fun

Thursday 30th June 2016

Had a couple of dreams last night.

In the first dream, I was a passenger in a car with my mom and Lavander and my dad was driving.

I dunno where we came from but we were driving into Stockport Town Centre from the west entrance.

My mom wanted something from Stockport market so my dad parked up at the new traffic light junction that’s been recently built, just…on the corner…blocking other traffic.

We were sat there while my dad was trying to figure out how to drive up to where Stockport Market is so he can drop my mom off right there.

This wouldn’t happen in real life…my dad is perfectly capable of getting us up to the St. Mary’s end of the marketplace.

Anyway, I remember in the dream saying I had a day rider and I could just go home on the bus, and I remember pulling out the day rider and showing everyone.

I have no idea why I had a day rider in the dream.

That’s pretty much where the 1st dream ends.

In the 2nd dream, I was riding my bike from home, down Lancashire hill, into Stockport Town Centre.

I arrived where Stockport Barclays is, and noticed someone there trying to get my attention…

For some reason, I couldn’t get my bike to stop. In my attempts to do so, I ran front wheel-first into a metal pole, but somehow that didn’t work…then I ran into the wall next to where the person trying to grab my attention was.

Their physical appearance was that of a skinny farm girl with white freckles.

But to my mind, she registered as someone I knew in secondary school but lost contact with pretty much after I left there.

That’s about all I remember.

Wednesday 6th July 2016

Lavander is still not happy with her job at the care home…so she decided to start hunting round for something better…and found a dental nurse course that’s starting in November.

Normally, this course would cost close to £3,000 but they seemed to have some kind of special offer on coz we only needed to pay a little over £1,000.

So, Lav signed herself up.

She’s supposed to do practical work in an actual dental surgery alongside the course itself.

They’re supposed to help her find a participating surgery to work in.

This would be a great step up from care home work…Lavander would be receiving more money for simply cleaning dental tools, handing them to the dentist, and a bit of reception work.

Much easier than everything she has to keep up with at the care home, at least.

She can just do a one-year course to begin with, then build up some experience at that level for a few years…then, if she wants, she can do a second year course, and become a full dental hygienist with an even bigger salary!

I suppose I can live with having a dentist for a girlfriend. Heh.

Thursday 7th July 2016

Apparently before Lav can work at a dental practise she needs to check to see if she needs a Hepatitis B vaccine.

We looked it up…it’s a course of 3 injections over a 6 month period. Arrrgh!

Monday 11th July 2016

So we checked with the local GP about getting a Hepatitis B vaccine.

We kind of realised the 6 month period will over-run the start of the dental nurse course.

So the GP looked in some kinda huge magazine o’ vaccines, and found that Hep B has an accelerated dosage…3 shots, 3 months…however, you have to come back and do it again next year.

So either way there’s no getting around it being 3 vaccines and a blood test.

Also, since the nurse course seems to be a private one and not on the NHS, we have to pay for the vaccines, apparently.

The GP suggested we ask the course provider about them paying for it, so we e-mailed them, but all we got was them suggesting we use a pharmacy for the vaccines instead.

So we contacted Stepping Hill Hospital and, as I type this, have an appointment on the 2nd of August for the first shot. Oh, boy, what fun. End Sarcasm.

Tuesday 12th July 2016

I completed a reference sheet for my ponysona, Typhoon, and managed to give him a pretty epic backstory, I reckon.

Wednesday 13th July 2016

My jobcentre advisor asked how my girlfriend was doing and I kind of explained about our plan with the dental nurse course, and they thought it sounded like a terrific idea.

They confirmed what I already knew, to ring the change of circumstances number when she leaves the care home so I can claim benefits again until she secures a dental nurse job.

Thursday 14th July 2016

So there’s this messaging service similar to Skype called Telegram. Only Telegram has these things called “stickers” which are like the custom emoticons of MSN Messenger.

This is like a pseudo Skype-MSN messenger merged chat program. Love it.

Anyway, Reddit was advertising a chat group on there for anybody interested in paganism…since I was interested in the Pagan Wiccan faith thanks to Luna, I decided to see if I can get some info and help from there.

A guy I spoke to on there kind of helped me realise that, since Norse mythology seems to feature quite a bit in various avenues of my life’s interests, it could be a good sign to follow the heathen branch of the pagan faith, at least as a starting point to get me going.

The heathens praise the earth mother, which is perfect for me since I’m into nature and animals and all that jazz.

I’m picking up some other stuff from the group too…like there is such a thing as fox magic…

Apparently there’s some fox deity that has a history of kind of jumping around the different pagan religions and can’t seem to settle on a particular path…sounds like she’s just investigating them all like a curious foxy to see what she likes…there are special shrines to her dotted about the planet… though, of course, none in the UK.

That could be something for later in life…me, erecting the first British shrine to the fox deity Inari and introducing her to the Norse/heathen pantheon, since it seems she hasn’t investigated them like a curious foxy yet.

Sunday 17th July 2016

Last night I dreamt I was in some kinda church courtyard, and there were birds EVERYWHERE.

All kinds of birds, too. There was a family of owls on top of some kind of pole-mounted birdhouse, and a second owl family nestled on some kinda platform on the side of the church.

There was a kestrel flying around, as well as a bunch of blue tits, great tits, sparrows, starlings, and all sorts of other birds…way too many to count.

Tuesday 26th July 2016

Another dream…this time of what seemed like an animé about some students who were having some kind of party in one of the rooms in their school.

It seemed to be quite a big school too…or at least very tall, because I remember at one point there being a shot of one of the characters falling out a 3rd or 4th story window and cartwheeling to the ground, and there were definitely more floors to the building above that one.

That’s about all I remember. The details of the party itself are kind of fuzzy.

Friday 29th July 2016

So there’s this new avatar-based site kinda similar to Ernya called Furvilla.

I found out about it earlier this month via Reddit and decided to sign up to the beta.

It looks pretty good so far…it’s not perfect but they’re still working on it…that’s what betas are for!

It’ll admit, it was kind of boring at first…though I may have myself to blame for that since I tried to pick animal husbandry as my career and didn’t get very far.

Things really picked up once they opened the forums. I quickly assumed my role as a social butterfly and talked to some people.

Well, today the forums were down for a bit because the mods wanted to clear some spam, but they also had a chatroom, so I decided to check that out.

I started talking to a guy called electro-cat…

…he started asking me stuff about what it’s like to be a fox and what a blue fox looked like…

…I showed him my fursona reference sheet…

He says “can I draw him?”

I says “Sure, you can have a go if you want”…I’ll admit, I wasn’t expecting anything too special anytime soon.

In pretty much no time at all he whipped up a lineart…

I was like “that was fast”

He was like “fastest paw in the west”

I believe it.

Then, about another amount of no time later, he pumped out this.

electrocat-giftart_zpsck2qw7zd

Ah…buh…whu…guh…*dies from awesomeness*

He also gifted me 100 FurDollars (the premium monies) so I can upload a paintie of my fursona to use for my villager.

That guy’s generosity knows no limits.

I finished the ponysona reference sheet for Lavander’s ponysona! Yay! And I managed to come up with quite a good backstory for her, too.

My parents had a new stove delivered to our house to replace the old one we had that was wasted.

And that’s pretty much everything that’s happened this past month.

Ciao for now.

Cordially,

The Blue Fox.

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