Two weeks ago I’d lost my temp job from a recruitment agency where I’d been an administrator for Lakesmere construction in Winchester, and had signed on at Eastleigh jobcentre on the 28th September a week before receiving my last week’s pay. I’d hoped that I could get a rapid reclaim so I wouldn’t be struggling with money, but since I’d worked for more than a week, I’d had to start a new claim for Jobseekers allowance. I’d assumed since I’d signed on two days after making my claim, that I would receive a payment the following week, just as my money ran out. When my bank account still appeared overdrawn, I’d called the department of work and pension and was put on hold in a queue after selecting their automated switchboard to the right person, they said I’d needed to speak with the jobcentre not the employment benefits and then gave me a different number to call.

I’d called the jobcentre, who couldn’t find my details at first, but then gave me the direct line to Eastleigh jobcentre 02380288000. The adviser told me that it’s not unusual for claims to take longer than two weeks to process, and I’d explained that I’d signed on a week ago and didn’t have any money after my job ended, and then asked whether there was any emergency funds I could get as I had done several years ago when this happened. The adviser told me that I wouldn’t receive any payment until after my next signing on the 14th October, which would be the 20th, twenty-two days after I’d made my claim, and several weeks after my money ran out. They’d said that they no longer issued emergency funds to claimants but would give me the number of my local council to call about foodbanks.

I called Hampshire council who then transferred me to another department that dealt with housing and benefits, they said they couldn’t help me and transferred me to another department that offered support to the homeless, then the adviser I’d spoken to said he couldn’t help me, but would pass my details onto a colleague who might be able to help and that they would call me back,  so I hung up. I feel lucky because I have friends and family who can support me, although obviously relying on others to pay my living costs is a serious burden to them, and which I will have to pay back eventually when it’s possible. If I didn’t have friends and family, and a place to live, would I just be left to starve and remain homeless? I’m 33, British, and I have a degree, I don’t understand how this can be allowed to happen to me, and why is there such apathy with government agencies and support services