Jenny Barr’s mum is helping her to make ends meet at home by driving her to work.
Just 45 minutes into the four hour round trip on weekdays, the British National Party supporter doesn’t have a job, and cannot find a paying job.“My mum drives me five minutes round the clock,” says Ms Barr, 28, “Every weekend I go home at 11pm and get a bucket of food in the morning to eat at home. I eat and sleep from 7am onwards.” She has two jobs. The first is as a nurse’s assistant, and the second is a postal worker for the National Housing Federation. “I live in an in-work social housing block,” she says. “Last year I tried to get a job there but they wouldn’t take me, and my dad was turned down for a job back home because he’s disabled.”
Ms Barr gets paid for her work by attending events held at Taunton Social Club – she makes £11 an hour, plus £3 for taxis.“At three o’clock she always has dinner ready and I take her for a quick smoke. On any given day there are sometimes 1,200 people there.”
Without her mum there would be little food left for the four of us.“I grew up with us having to fight for what we wanted,” she says. “My parents took extra work to help us get by.” Jenny Barr
They could not raise the same effort now, especially after she fell sick with coughs and nose. “I just want to put my straight foot forward and put out a useful message that all people can become self-sufficient again,” she says.
Benefits policies that make job-seeking difficult usually only pay for meeting the daily running costs. These include fuel, rent, utility bills, food, childcare and telephone bills. There are no direct claims for driving time, which means the whole household can bring in income without using a car.Margaret Fotheringham, director of Standon House – a home for homeless people – in Taunton, has worked with many job seekers in the past, but says she is surprised by the scale of what Standon House can do. “We offer the most realistic social housing allowance,” she says. “In a sense it is an emergency accommodation, where the social structure can be found to meet the demand.” Ms Barr moved to Standon last month. “I know the hardship that it can be,” she says. “The homelessness crisis is becoming too serious to allow others to get on the ladder.” Work could be it for you Use the following advice to work from home and get a normal working life:
Make sure you have a regular working diary. If you are planning a week-long trip or a school holiday, you are risking your normal working hours. Check in once a day with Your Minutes from Work website to count the days when you get more than 12 hours of work in a week, or face redundancy. If you don’t work a regular Monday to Friday, move to Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays. Ensure your weekly sleeping time remains the same each night. If you switch jobs, stick to having a regular bedtime – and lunchtime – so you are not facing nightmarish nightmares at 3am. Find a neighbourhood-based council. Look at local housing associations. Look for somewhere with a bus pass you can use to get to your work. If the houses are older, look for places that are in prime locations. Avoid trying to commute to work by public transport. Or hire a car. Although cheaper, renting a car probably won’t do you any good – rent a bike will. Browse the web. Scrap magazines. Join social clubs. Visit student unions.Ms Barr’s mum (pictured above), who works full-time as a postal worker for National Housing Federation, says: “She drives me, and I love being with her.”