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.