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WRAG - Depression/Anxiety/Social Anxiety


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So I was placed in the WRAG with apparently quite a lenghty prognosis which by my research (if correct) means that I cannot be forced into anything other than WFIs with the Jobcentre (and what they ask me to do)

 

At my 1st WFI the 1st thing on the agenda was apparently getting me into part-time paid or voluntary work. How will this work I (and the person accompanying me) asked with one of my conditons being social anxiety? I was a total mess at my ESA assessment. At this point it seemed my only option was to appeal to get moved into the Support group which filled me with dread of the thought of all the extra stress that would bring. On exploring further I could stay in the WRAG if I looked for part time voluntary or paid work that I could do from home but from my research upto now this kind of opportunity just doesn't seem to exist. I doubted paid work from home work would be available but was surprised/dissapointed to find no voluntary work either. I'm starting to suspect even voluntary work from home work doesn't exist and so my only option will be to go to appeal and see if I can be moved into the Support group which is quite a depressing and stressful thought. I just wondered if anyone else has been in this situation and if so what they did?

 

I would like to do a little work from home be it paid or voluntary as I think it would do me good and even better if voluntary I would feel I was giving a little back but the opportunity just doesn't seem to be there. It's just starting to feel that unless you are ready and able to work in an office etc and be around people then work of any kind is just not an option which is really sad.

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Hi Telemark,

 

I don’t profess to be an expert on this so please bear with me, I used to work for a big charity that used volunteers extensively and for a while we did contemplate offering home based volunteering.

 

We ran into a few problems, the first was being able to offer training to people either at their home or gathering people together in groups to do the same. As you describe in your post you may find that getting to a training session with other people quite challenging at the moment. The alternative of sending someone out to people’s homes fell victim to the difficulties around ensuring we were getting value for money. One trainer going to train one person in solely financial terms made no sense when they could be in front of a group.

 

Insurance also played a part as did the use of someone’s private computer for ‘work’ purposes. Issues around information security, data protection and anti virus all cropped up at various different points. The show-stopper was ensuring that people had access to support to be effective and safe. This was comparatively easy in an central location but a nightmare to try to implement remotely.

 

There are home based opportunities out there, I’ve seen a Domestic Violence charity do it especially well but the caveat was that they only allowed very experienced volunteers work remotely from the office.

 

Whilst I don’t have an appreciation of the severity of your anxiety I know that we had people come in to volunteer with us who were in, what seems to be on the face of it, similar circumstances.

 

Often they came with a friend, family member or support worker. We ensured that they were in control over the things that meant the most to them. So, we helped them choose a time that suited based on transport, how busy the area was and how busy the office was. We discussed what tasks would be best suited, be it helping with correspondence or answering phones or anything else that suited. We offered the chance for people to gradually move towards more challenging situations when they felt able to do so and always took their lead.

My views are my own and are not representative of any organisation. if you've found my post helpful please click on the star below.

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Sorry, managed to submit that without finishing it…

 

Speak to some of the volunteering places that might interest you and see what they can offer at the moment. Try to remember that whilst it might be an office like environment at first sight many such places I’ve visited are very relaxed and accepting. Even if the first few times is just a 5 or 10 minute visit to say hello and have a cuppa, then maybe 20 mins or half an hour keeping busy with something and trying to build it up from there.

My views are my own and are not representative of any organisation. if you've found my post helpful please click on the star below.

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Are you currently undergoing any treatment for your condition?

 

In any case, DO NOT AGREE TO LOOK FOR PART-TIME VOLUNTARY WORK.

 

I would read the support group descriptors and if any apply then appeal on that basis. Otherwise you can claim if there are exceptional circumstances; basically in this case your argument would be that being found capable of wra would lead to a significant risk to your mental health.

 

Whilst you are in wrag you may be asked to do things which just aren't possible. In this case you must ask your advisor to reconsider; if they don't relent and you don't comply then a sanction will be raised which will go to a decision maker. In your case it is highly unlikely that the sanction would stand if you explain your condition (medical evidence will help, as will the reasons given for the award of esa wrag).

 

You should not be asked to do anything which would contradict the limitations listed in your award of ESA. Make sure that whoever accompanies you knows this and speaks up on your behalf.

 

Hopefully someone else can give more definite advice and links to the relevant regulations (which can be printed out should your advisor continue to be unreasonable).

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hi to the OP just a thought - local freecycle groups are usually looking for online moderators. Similarly, if there are certain fields you are interested in / forums you are a member of, then you could ask whether they're looking for moderators. This could count as voluntary work & be done from home online. Best wishes.

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Make sure you know how much you can earn before you lose benefits if looking for paid work.

Also you need to think very carefully about what you agree to - if being in WRAG was all fair and honest, then it WOULD be seen as helping your recovery, only sometimes this is seen as being well enough to actually work.

So just think hard before you commit.

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think about it, I wasin a similiar position to telemark when I was in the WRAG.

 

Also I have in the past thought about working from home, the problems you listed I respect but society doesnt.

 

Working from home jobs are very lacking in this country for the reasons you listed companies/charities will only do whats cheapest and least risky to themselves which is have workers at a central location and also for security and supervision purposes.

 

Sadly society doesnt recognise this barrier and as a result any assessments that test ability to work completey disregard that anyone found fit for work is generally expected to be able to get to a workplace, be around people and work set hours every week.

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Telemark. Yes, it is possible to transfer from WRAG to SG. Based on my experience each claimant's facts and circumstances are different and you should try a non commercial organisation such as CAB who can spend the time that is required to go into sufficient detail with you face to face re your particular options.

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Yes, that's right. WRAG is about preparing you for work - courses, etc.

 

Well they sort of can - not actual paid work, but they can make you attend courses and the likes - if you refuse they can sanction you.

Not so bad whilst under the wings of the job centre (well not in my case) but once with work provider things change drastically.

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At my 1st WFI the 1st thing on the agenda was apparently getting me into part-time paid or voluntary work.

 

That is the extent of the "Help" I have been offered at my WFI at jobcenter over the last 18 months. (The WP offered me weekly jobsearches). I have asked if there is any (recognized) training/ re-training available, but always get told No.

 

With WRAG, you have to do something for work preparation. Any refusal can get a doubt raised. So it is better to find something yourself, something that is interesting to yourself.

You mention working from home. If you have something in mind, then could you not start preparation for that?

 

For example. You may be interested in web design. Is there any software (free/trial) that you could learn at home. That way, on your next WFI, explain you are not good around others, and it would be more beneficial if you did some learning(web design) at home.

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For example. You may be interested in web design. Is there any software (free/trial) that you could learn at home. That way' date=' on your next WFI, explain you are not good around others, and it would be more beneficial if you did some learning(web design) at home.[/quote']

 

Not just web design; but in general - there are some distance learning courses which can be done at home.

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I go to the WP each week and take part in work focused exercises for 1 hour in a small group. I am lucky in that I am numerate , literate (ish) and can use a PC. The people in my group can't so I tend to do 1 on 1 with them. Helps me and keeps everyone off my back.

I have to say though that the 1 hr leaves me shattered so it's home for 10.15 and a mid morning snooze

Any opinion I give is from personal experience .

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WFI is work focused interview where you discuss goals barriers and objectives to get back into work. So my barriers were being too ill my goal was to get well and objective to get a part time job within a year. The WP is the external agency, in my case intraining.

Once you have need in wrag for a year you can work up to 15 hours and ear £99 without it affecting your benefit. But it only lists for a year.

Any opinion I give is from personal experience .

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Lily

Have you filled in your form yet?

I filled mine in and they got it 15th Nov , still not got a medical date

 

Yes I filled out my form but only a few weeks ago.

I am wondering as they are looking to get rid of ATOS has this slowed the system down even more.

This is the most horrible time - waiting - medical - then waiting for the result.

 

Good luck.

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They aim to deal with completed ESA50's within 3 months.

 

The actual format of the questionaires and face to face assessments was never set by ATOS, the government created it and they just employ a firm to administer it. So the replacement company will be picking up the same forms and the same assessments and doing the same job. Two problems here is 1) the questions/assessments are not fit for purpose, many people do not meet the descriptors necessary to get sufficient points to be awarded ESA but are nevertheless not well or able enough to work (and some people meet the descriptors to be awarded ESA and yet are well enough and capable or working, with the right support) and 2) it is open to each practitioner's interpretation of ability. Only the second problem can be solved by getting in a new agency, maybe the new firm will have a greater understanding of illness or disability but with whips cracking and targets to meet I am not holding my breath. ATOS may be rubbish but mostly it wasn't their doing imo, it was a problem created for them.

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Hi, I did work on a forum in the past. Worked my way up from member to moderator to admin. I did find the moderator work stressful at times though when it involved dealing with unruly members (due to my mental problems) and tended to rely on my co-moderators when that kind of stuff came up. I was fine with the other stuff. I felt a lot more comfortable when I moved into an admin role where I was basically looking after the server, software and the design of the forum though. I guess with moderator work it would depend on the nature of it. Also the forum I worked on was a privately owned one (not my own), not a charity. Do some charities run forums and look for helpers? I know my ESA advisor enthasised that any voluntary work I thought about needed to be for a charity/a position that would not normally be a paid one.

 

hi to the OP just a thought - local freecycle groups are usually looking for online moderators. Similarly, if there are certain fields you are interested in / forums you are a member of, then you could ask whether they're looking for moderators. This could count as voluntary work & be done from home online. Best wishes.
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That sounds interesting and something I would like to look at.

 

Are there any known reputable sites out there that provide online courses? Obviously money is tight and also I wouldn't want to get duped in anyway.

 

Not just web design; but in general - there are some distance learning courses which can be done at home.
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