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Blog: A Surprise At The Job Centre

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I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before, but i REALLY like living here in The Olympical Village, as it is ACE. On Monday night, for instance, we went for an evening stroll and got to a) nosey round the shop units, where've they've just put up vague signs saying roughly what they're going to eventually BE e.g. "Under Offer - Cafe" b) Wander (accidentally) around the "Year Of The Bus" sculpture trail and c) stroll beside the canals looking at the lovely lighting displays and the new fountains. It was pretty bloody GRATE!

On Tuesday morning, however, I was expecting a somewhat different experience, as I had an appointment at the JOB CENTRE to see a CAREERS ADVISOR. When I went in to sign on on Friday my ADVISOR said "I don't know if it'll be much help for you, but it's worth a try" and I really was NOT expecting much - I'm pretty sure HOLLYWOOD PRODUCERS don't advertise for their latest blockbusters in the Job Centre - but I thought it only POLITE to go and see.

When I arrived there was a small crowd of people outside, who I assumed were having a FAG. I walked to the door, pushed it, and nothing happened. Looking through I saw nobody was inside. A man behind me laughed "What did you think we were all doing out here?" so I said "I thought you were having a fag!" "All of us?" "Well, it CAN be quite stressful" and then we had a bit of an old CHAT. I was basically still NETWORKING from last week.

My appointment was for 10am, and I was relieved when the doors opened at 10 on the DOT. Some people in the queue said they'd been waiting for ages, but nobody inside seemed flustered, so maybe it was a training session? I went in and, as before, it was a bit of a SCRUM as there's no receptionist of any kind. I suppose this is meant to make it feel more OPEN, but it just means that everyone has to crowd round a G4S person who, to put it mildly, does not appear to have been trained for Customer Relations.

Eventually I got upstairs and to the desk of my Careers Advisor, Debbie. She asked why I'd been sent to her and I told her, as reported above, that my Signing On Person said there probably wasn't much she could tell me but we'd try anyway. I told her I was hoping to do screenwriting and KAPOW! She was OFF!

We got onto the Careers Advice website and suddenly there were OPPORTUNITIES! LINKS! IDEAS! ACTUAL ADVICE! I was completely stunned - I thought I was going to spend 10 minutes saying "No, a scriptwriter, not an underwriter" or "No, I don't want to do Data Entry" but she TOTALLY knew her stuff. Apparently she'd worked round Hackney and Dalston so had met a TONNE of unemployed actors, writers, cameramen, sound guys etc etc. "I did used to think I should write some of my stories down" she said. I thought she might as well, she clearly has a VAST contacts list!

The most reassuring bit was when we looked at the Government advice for becoming a screenwriter and it said the best thing to do was to enter competitions and do lots of networking. "You want to be in Hackney drinking in the wine bars" she said. I wanted her to put it in writing so it could list it on my BACK TO WORK PLAN - "This weeks activities: WINE" - but she thought maybe that wouldn't look so good. SHAME.

I was absolutely astonished by the whole thing. As I told her at the end (I didn't really want to leave, as we were having a RIGHT old laugh, but she had someone else waiting), I'd expected the whole experience to be pointless but it had been brilliant. "I'm sure you'll make it" she said as we shook hands and I came away full of ideas and HOPE that this could all work out.

It was all A BIT FLIPPING WEIRD. Perhaps I went in the wrong door and saw the HOLLYWOOD LIFE GURU instead?

posted 30/10/2014 by MJ Hibbett

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