I am grateful for: People who understand.

I had a wonderful experience yesterday, despite us being in limbo waiting for the situation at Husband’s workplace to be resolved.

We need to start genuinely considering what we are doing next, as Husband is not sure even if this gets resolved that he wants to go back to this job. And having just the one part-time job (less than 10 hours a week) is not enough for us to live on and pay off the mortgage and our debts.

Husband’s mother suggested to us that now that Husband’s got a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, he would be eligible for more help and support in finding and maintaining employment, or accessing training and further education, mainly from JobCentrePlus and their Disability Employment Advisors. They were very supportive of Husband’s sister which is why she recommended it.

Husband was not very keen at all; we have been through the system many, many times since he left college and had numerous encounters with the JobCentre and Jobseeker’s Allowance, all of which have been bad. But he realises we have to at least try, so I rang the hotline to get some information about it and how Husband could access this.

We were off to a bad start immediately as the lady answering my call a) wasn’t quite sure what I was asking and b) did not seem very interested. I had a bit of time yesterday before going to do my voice work, so decided to swing by our local JobCentre myself to spare Husband the stress, and just ask what was available and how Husband could access it. I realized I might not get to see somebody as you are supposed to have an appointment but went to the Information Desk (it was empty) and waited for someone to come over.

A security guard came over and asked if I needed help and I explained why I was there. He asked me to wait and then went to fetch a lady who is one of the DEA workers there. She asked me to come round and sit at her desk and tell her what I wanted to ask about.

What a change! When Husband was previously on JSA he couldn’t speak to anyone unless he had an appointment and here I was just being invited in.

I explained our situation briefly and that Husband was having a hard time at work, as he has a zero hour contract and hasn’t been given any hours now for three weeks. And how soul-destroying it is and how it is wrecking his self confidence at the moment.

She was very understanding and seemed to understand how hard it would have been for Husband prior to being diagnosed as he would have had to come up with coping strategies to be able to cope with work and things. She also said that if we were to access the services she would like to speak to him as Aspergers and ASD is such a spectrum and as such, people who are in different places on the spectrum require different kinds of support at work.

She gave me the names and numbers of three different support groups and Remploy, and said that there is different support available for Husband, but that he has to decide what he wants to do next. Once he does, she said to come back and we can take it from there.

Above all, she was interested in what I had to say and Husband and his story.

So: I am grateful for people who understand. It’s like balm for the soul to not have to explain everything in great detail, because people understand. What a difference it makes. Despite everything that is going on in our lives as the moment, that really made my day and I for now think that things can get better as this support will be available to Husband.

 

 

Current mood: In limbo.

These last two weeks have been spent trying to keep Husband distracted as his mood has been quite low.

Since his boss left at the end of July, Husband has not been given any hours at all. Suspect that now that Deputy Manager is in charge, this will be a staple as she has been quite mean to Husband in the past and is know for gossiping about other members of staff.

One of the things Husband was marked down for on his appraisal was for not being available as he ‘took so much holiday’. The last three breaks he has been available almost the whole time and he has not been called in at all. It’s like he can’t win.

Husband is feeling very low now. Part of it is because he feels like they are wasting his time; he said to me the other night that if he had known he would not have been called in at all, he would have suggested we go away somewhere.

The other part of it is of course that he doesn’t feel wanted. Not being called in is really eroding his self-belief and he’s told me that he felt like he had a purpose there when he was at work. He really feels like he is the odd one out and that he isn’t liked.

He says to me that it is constantly churning at the back of his mind.

To make things worse, Husband went in at the beginning of August with his July timesheet. To find that there were two new members of staff there. We don’t know, of course, if they are volunteers or paid staff as the workplace often take on volunteers. But nevertheless, that means hours that Husband could have had are given to other people. This smells like constructive dismissal to me, on top of the discrimination and bullying husband has had to face at work, but we’ll see what the union rep says.

We are still waiting to have the meeting with the employer with the union present. This week was suggested but we have not heard anything at all.

So we are in limbo effectively while we are waiting.

Husband is unsure what to do now. We have spoken about it and he understand he will inevitably have to find something else to do, but is unsure if that means new job or going back to college. Both of which he finds daunting as he is so paranoid nobody is going to like him and he is going to ‘mess things up.’

I am not going to lie, I am worried he is becoming depressed again. It is ‘ok’ for now as I am at home but I am concerned what will happen when I have to go back to work at the end of the summer.

Still haven’t heard anything regarding husband’s PIP assessment either. The form was sent off in the start of June and Capita has sent us a letter to say they are processing it, but it will be a month since that letter at the end of the week. So need to chase that.

Part of me wonders why it has to be so hard for some people to just be nice, and treat someone with a bit of dignity.

Fly by, July!

Whew, where did July go?

July has been a good-ish month for us.

  • We came in at £133 for groceries which, while it’s good, is not £130! Must get this together for August!
  • Travelling to Wales to see husband’s sister and husband for the weekend was lovely. Very relaxing which is just what husband needed.
  • Our anniversary is on the 31st of July so we went out for breakfast and dinner as my mother sent us some money.
  • We were gifted a lovely garden seat!
  • College finished in the start of the month and as the uni job is largely finished for the summer I’ve had this month off. I’ve been doing self employed work, caught up on eBaying, doing surveys, and jobs around the house I’ve had to put off as I just haven’t had the time to do it until now.
  • We enjoyed going to the foodshare event in our local community.

Things that have not been good about July include:

  • Husband had a cold which he gave to me. It hit me much harder and I spent a little over a week in the house feeling really rubbish and drained of energy.
  • Husband’s workplace are still being mean. Manager has left now and since then Deputy has been running the show; Husband was not given any hours at all last week. When he went by with the time sheet for July so it could be processed, they had two new members of staff in. Looks like the meeting regarding the grievance will be held in August. Husband is very anxious about this and doesn’t want to talk about it, and alternates between being cross and sad about the whole thing.
  • Husband’s younger sister who has a learning disability has been exploited by someone she trusted by asking her for money under all kinds of pretexts. She was not supposed to be able to access her account but can transfer money out via the banking app and she’s been defrauded of £4000, her savings account is now empty. Bank have said they can’t help but we have contacted the police who are considering it to be fraud. Will challenge the bank via the Financial Ombudsman Service – how was she able to transfer the money out of her account if there are two people named on the account (her and her mother who is her financial guardian), without the other person’s authorization?

To end on a more positive note, here are some pictures from the garden.

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Our lovely garden seat. Just need the weather to warm up now that I’m better to actually sit out there and enjoy it.
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The nasturtiums are really growing well now and we’ve used their leaves in our salad for dinner on several nights. If I can grow this, maybe I can grow salad next year?
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Aaaah! We have a solitary tomato! Just hoping it’ll grow now!
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The Cat enjoys Husband’s lap.

The goals of this year’s staycation.

I’m done working at the college and the university for the summer (apart from the odd Saturday 10am to 2pm) as I work term-time. Won’t be back at work now until the 28th of August now, and not back full time (six days a week) until the 1st of October.

Part of me wants to bask in this. You’ve worked SO had and this year has brought out feelings you didn’t even know you possessed, you DESERVE a rest!

But not going to lie, it feels super weird to not be at work. It’s quite unsettling, the lack of routine. It’s been about two weeks now and I feel ready to come back!

Because of husband’s work and the grievance we have decided to pursue, I feel a bit in limbo at the moment as I don’t feel we can go anywhere until this has been settled. We are due to travel home to Norway in the end of August for a week to see my family but that’s everything we are doing travelling wise.

Husband’s workplace have received our grievance and confirmed that they have received it so we will see what they do with it. They have to investigate it and respond in a timely manner, they cannot legally ignore it according to our union, so we’ll see what happens with that. Work itself has been very calm and nobody has mentioned the grievance at all. However the quite frankly infuriating way husband has been treated at work this year is not diminished or excused by this period of apparent calmness. I don’t trust them and am very interested to see what they come back with once they have investigated our allegations, as the burden of evidence is on the employer, it is THEIR responsibility to prove husband has not been discriminated against.

Anyway. Yes, Staycation this year. So in an attempt to make it more structured, I sat down and wrote a list when the staycation started, naming some things I want to do this summer.

I have added to it though as I’ve completed things. I know, I know, I need to relax! But let’s face it, as I work six days a week from September to June, WHEN will I have time to do things like:

  • Visit the Windmill. We have a working windmill that’s open to visitors and in all my years of living in Nottingham I have never been to visit it.
  • Clean the whole kitchen. Cupboards, inside and out. Sort them. Doors. On top of cupboards. Clean oven. Clean outside of oven. Pull oven out and clean behind it. Done! YASS!
  • Clean the windows and windowsills I can reach. Done.
  • Visit husband’s sister and husband in Wales. We are going, this weekend!
  • Write a review a week. Since finishing at work I have written two. I write and publish my reviews here.
  • Go through our clothes upstairs and my clothes in the bedroom to sort and donate/sell/give away stuff not used.
  • Dust the blinds downstairs. Done
  • Visit the park up the street, bring food.
  • Go to Wollaton Hall and walk around the lake.
  • Tidy, wipe down and sort the shelf by the bathroom. Done.
  • Copy down all my reviews and store them somewhere safe.
  • Do our tax returns. Done.
  • Get a will written?
  • Take our duvets and pillows to the launderette. Done.
  • Do 30 minutes on the exercise bike every day. Pahahaha. Not even done this once yet. I am so bad at this whole healthy lifestyle thing:(
  • Clean the covers of the two Poang armchairs. Done.
  • Defrost and clean the fridge freezer.

What about you? Do you have anything you’d like to do this summer? Are you having a staycation?

Some news and a gardening update.

It’s been an interesting week and a half.

We are having a heatwave here; husband has been melting and his joints have been giving him a great deal of bother – this happens every summer. Remedies consist of eating Ibuprofen as though they are sweets, having cool cloths and taking cool showers, and for tonight, setting up the sofa-bed in the much cooler downstairs sitting room.

The heat has done wonders for the garden though, everything is just growing away there. I have discovered that we now have aphids on the sweet peas I planted – I need to use something on them that is safe to use on edibles as well as the sodding rosemary is growing next to it. Many people have suggested washing up liquid in water so will make that up tonight in a spray bottle and try to get rid of them.

Husband’s parents did an amazing thing for us yesterday; they came and helped us tidy up the front garden and cut things back. We have so much space there now, I’ll get us a rake on Tuesday so we can tidy it up and then we can perhaps put our tables and chairs outside there. Not quite sure when I’ll have time to sit in them but never mind.

Have had a text from the DWP to say they have received the PIP form.

We stayed with friends from Saturday to Sunday and had a lovely time eating good food and playing games. A much needed break and a lovely treat for us, husband really enjoyed it.

Last week we went to see the union solicitors at their surgery. It proved to be a very interesting day. They took a look at husband’s contract and recognized the name of the employer; they are quite confident they have had to represent someone from the same place before. We have decided to go ahead with a formal grievance due to disability discrimination and bullying and harassment, as we cannot sit and wait for the employer to get it together, not to mention, employers are obligated to respond to it.

Not oh, I don’t know, push husband’s performance review back for the 6th time as they needed to have a different meeting that afternoon.

That meeting also proved very interesting as the manager announced suddenly and unexpectedly that they have handed in their notice and their last working day will be in the end of July. Everyone present including husband was very taken aback by this. Not even the deputy manager knew and asked if it was a joke. The manager would not say why they had handed their notice in and was and has been very tearful since. Some of the staff are wondering if the manager has been given a choice by the board: To either hand in their notice or be asked to leave.

The union rep has written a blistering letter to the employer – I showed it to my manager and she said she was feeling faint at reading it and it is not even addressed to her! Just need to put the finishing touches on it. Husband pities his manager now and wonders if we should send the letter at all. I feel that even though things are hard for the manager now, they are still at the end of the day the manager and is responsible for what they have said and done (and not said, and not done!) up until this point.

The manager is still an adult who has to face the consequences of their behavior.

Such as sending husband a text at MIDNIGHT on Monday this week to ask if he could come in to work Tuesday morning.

The delight of zero-hour contracts.

 

 

 

 

 

A manic May.

Today is the first of June – how did May hold up?

 

Good points about May were:

  • We were able to stay under budget again for food, toiletries and stuff for the cat, even with husband’s birthday celebrations. I was able to use all my Nectar points which took off £32 off the shopping for this month. We’ve continued to eat out of the freezer as well which saves on the grocery bill.
  • People’s generosity is like balm for the soul. My sister inlaw has gifted us the rest of her leftover underlay for when we have the floors laid tomorrow and my mother inlaw has gifted us a lemon balm and a chive plant. Husband’s friend gifting him her jigsaw boards and a bunch of jigsaws.
  • Husband had a lovely birthday seeing friends and family over several days. He had lots of presents and feels he is much calmer and relaxed now as he’s had a break.
  • We have both had a week off due to half term, which we both really needed.
  • Getting lovely reduced bargains. Small pleasures but it feels like a treasure hunt for me.
  • The weather has gotten steadily warmer and lighter.

 

Things that could be improved about May were:

  • The absolutely, absolutely rubbish situation at husband’s work, at both workplaces. It has left both of us feeling raw and brought out feelings in me I did now know I even possessed. After discussing our options we will get some legal advice from the union this month.
  • PIP. That is all. It is due in June so have been working steadily on it.

I wonder what June will bring?

(I do know one of the things June brings: The builder and his workmen are coming to lay the floor tomorrow. Need to empty both rooms of stuff tonight.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

New week, new things to do.

So it’s another week. Another Tuesday, in fact.

I am feeling a bit better now and a bit calmer.

I attended my husband’s meeting at his workplace as his advocate. The school have been in contact with the Safeguarding designate for our local area and decided that he does not pose a risk so they will not take the allegation further. They clearly do not see him as a risk as he as a) been allowed to come to work and b) they have not told the parents about the allegation the three boys have made against him. It will not go on his employment record and it will be only kept on a safeguarding file which is held internally at the school. Three times during the meeting I stated that we wanted the notes to say that the allegations have not been substantiated. (Not to mention the boys have sought him out to talk to him during last week and this week)

At his other workplace they have had a change of heart. Not only has the meeting been pushed back to next month but management have said quite firmly that husband is not allowed to take anyone with him to the second part of his appraisal; so, not me and certainly not the union. We asked if it could not be done as a reasonable adjustment because of husband’s Aspergers and they have still said no.

We just keep logging stuff, and we’ve let the union know about what’s going on. Not sure who his employer are taking advice from but they are just digging themselves into a deeper and deeper hole every time they seem to open their mouths.

All of this has left husband feeling vulnerable and he feels like he just goes in to work now just to work. The enjoyment and satisfaction he felt from doing it has gone now.

Today is a day off (?). So far I have made us breakfast, made the bed, hung stuff out to dry (I wash my handbag regularly on a gently cycle – just need to go through all the infernal things my handbag seems to accumulate now) and done my self-employed work due for tomorrow. I am attending some training this afternoon and tonight the builder is coming to give us a quote for having floors laid downstairs. I also have some sad looking parsnips and carrots I am contemplating making soup with, and I need to go collect a parcel we missed yesterday.

I am currently reading Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson, and I am waiting for How to be a Bawse by Lilly Singh to come through from the library transfer service so I can collect it from the library down the street. I love libraries – you can borrow books and enjoy them for free! And it’s green as well as you aren’t buying stuff, but reading and then bringing it back for someone else to enjoy.

Lastly I will balance this post and inject some positivity into it by sharing a picture of the cat enjoying the sunshine in the back yard yesterday.

Oh and the PIP form arrived this morning. It’s a 40 page beast. Will make a separate post about this.

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The cat enjoyed lying in the back yard yesterday ❤