Volunteering and Working in the UK (part 2)

I last left everyone off with the joyous (in the way that a punch in the nose is joyous) discovery that a lot of employers in the UK will not even consider you for job positions without UK-based job references – a blatant tactic to not just discriminate but to also undermine the attempts of migrants trying to establish their lives here.

To put it mildly: it’s annoying, but that’s not what we’ll be covering in this post. No, in today’s post, we will discuss the bizarre world that is applying for a National Insurance Number. So, stow your trays, put your seats in the full up-right position and fasten your seat belts; here we go…

On Tuesday the 18th of November, I called Jobcentre Plus’ application line (note: this is not a free call) and after waiting on the line for a minute or two I was able to answer the questions that were asked and was given an application reference number. That part was pretty simple, the next bit? Not so much.

You see, they require you to schedule an appointment to prove your identity in person at a local Jobcentre. Something that would be fine all on its own, except for one major problem: supposedly they only allow people to schedule appointments a few days in advance. And they won’t open any more additional days until all of the time slots for the other days are completely filled.

So what happens if you can’t make it at any of the dates or times that are available? They tell you to call them back in a day or so and try again. Long story short, I have called them (in caps for emphasis) THREE TIMES so far and I am yet to be able to schedule an appointment. They had only one more open slot on a Saturday available and they weren’t allowed to schedule for any other days until it was filled. I don’t know in what world this could be considered efficiency, but it isn’t in mine that’s for sure. Nor one of the people I spoke to on the phone with them.

What is particularly irritating is that, on the fourth try – after the weekend – I was able to schedule an appointment… THREE WEEKS FROM NOW. So all of that talk about “oh, we can’t schedule more than a couple of days in advance,” was lies, utter lies. That said, there will be a part three to this series in which I will share how the appointment went.


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