“Fairytale of Athlone”
Once upon a time there was a 38-year-old married man with one child. He spent 6 months of 2009 unemployed. He spent every day searching for jobs, while doing the best for his family.
“Job seekers allowance” paid him and his family 365.00 euros per week. That money was badly needed.
When he had the chance to get back into the workforce he jumped at it. Working again, a reason to rise in the morning and a belief that he could make a difference.
The job paid minimum wage, which meant that he would be 25.00 euros worse off per week. Not a great start but at least he was working, back in the swing of things, back communicating with people, making decisions and making a difference.
He applied for Family Income Support on the 15th October 2009 and was told that there would be a delay of 4-5 weeks before payment would be made as there was a huge increase in the volume of applications for F.I.S
He waited until the 23rd November and rang the social welfare to see how his application was progressing.
He was then told the astonishing news that there would be a further delay of between 5 – 6 weeks before any payments are made.
The employee at the social welfare office did say that the payment would be backdated when it was paid, so that makes it all ok then.
So it will be 2010 before any payment is made. What about Christmas? He screamed, how would he get through Christmas, how will his family get through Christmas.
His son wants Santa to bring him a toy tractor; a bloody toy tractor is all he wants.
What will he get his wife? What will his wife get him? Nothing I’m afraid.
There can be no presents for his nieces and nephews, no presents for his parents or his wife’s parents; it’s just not possible. Friends will just have to be patient.
This is a real person with real human concerns. He is angry, angry at everything, but will refuse to give up. He will continue to fight to re-establish himself. He refuses to go back on social welfare. He prefers to work and give something back to his community
And yes his son will receive his tractor for Christmas. He will make damn sure of that, and he will make sure that it comes with a trailer and is the best tractor that he can afford.
To his friends at the social welfare office he can only ask that every time a claim comes across their desk that they think of the human aspects of each claim. They are not just pieces of paper, there are lives affected by your actions every day of the week.
Try and process one more claim each day, take five minutes less for your lunch break and process one more claim, come in five minutes early and process one more claim. Don’t go on strike and you can process lots more claims.
This recession will not beat this man and not beat his family. 2010 will be a better year full of the ups and downs that every year brings. Here’s hoping for more ups than downs.