So during this time the employment officer helped me to find another job, but he was misleading me and messing other people about and I didn’t know it, he told me that the new job was also with a supported employment gardening team, but that I would be promoted, that I wouldn’t just be a gardener but that my title would be ‘assistant supervisory mentor’ and that I would be a role model to the other gardeners on the team.
I accepted the job, believing what he said, but it turned out to
be rubbish, I was not even a gardener, I was a 'client’ on their
occupational therapy list, we did act as a gardening team, we went round
doing very low level gardening, mainly for sheltered houses, there was no
one on that team with any real horticultural skill or knowledge, the two
supervisors were well to do men who played golf together and were
‘doing their bit for society’ by supervising us, the manager of the
operation was a psychological bully who had worked in a women’s prison,
he was a nasty case, he had a notice on his desk saying ‘Be nice or
leave’ and I wondered why he didn’t do as his notice asked.
being no good at gardening, the team was very sexist, talking about and
treating women as objects and making dirty jokes all day and passing
round the daily sport or star, including the supervisors, they had never
had a woman on their team, and they did not like it, and made that
I put them in their place a bit by telling them they could make
their comments and degrade me when they could do the work to the
standard that I could and when they knew what was a plant and what was a
weed, also they could not shock me with their jokes, if they persisted I
would outrude them and even made the supervisor blush. I may not be mature relationship-wise, but, especially back then, my uninhibited manner and my catalogue of disgusting things I had learned growing up in hostels and on sink estates meant I could outrude any silly lads easily.
There was no-one
on the team with a serious handicap, and I worked out that the team was
actually a bin for people who were ‘troublesome’ , couldn’t fit in a
category or go mainstream, the boss’s policy was to brutally smash the
‘trouble’ out of people, the team consisted of a paedophile who had had a
sexual relationship with a 12 year old girl and was proud of it, a boy with severe
asbergers syndrome and a bad anger problem, a brain damaged man who was
obsessed with sex, and an a boy from whichever country in Africa was at
war and throwing the white people out, and a man who only spoke to swear
at the supervisors, so I was out of the frying pan into the hot hot
hell. Believe me this place had a permanent and serious bad effect on
(I remain horrified that I was placed on a team with a peadophile who was proud of himself for it and not only was I too vulnerable but I was outraged, which made life difficult)
Me being a girl got a variety of reactions from the team apart
from the rude jokes and sexism, the Asbergers lad made it clear he
fancied me and was jealous of G, he talked about me and G. a
lot, as he knew G. and had been on a course with him, but this lad
had a girlfriend, and he told us about his sex with her as well, graphically.
who had had sex with a 12 year old was probably the most stable of the
team, he was ‘the top of the pack’, with the most skills and
intelligence, I really struggled with what he had done and been
convicted of, to the point of fighting with him, but in the end and all
in all we got on well, he got engaged and married while I knew him, to a
Down’s Syndrome girl from one of the homes we worked for, which also increased my respect for him.
Although he was not adequately supervised, considering that we were all vulnerable and worked for vulnerable people and families with children.
Looking back, he was not branded or restricted by his convictions, not even excluded from essential services as I am by the diocese and being on the run from them.
Again, I am branded worse than a peadophile.
Brain damaged man really had a problem with me, he had been a popular
man, a babe magnet who had had everything including girls and more girls
when he was younger, then he had crashed his motorbike at speed, and
hated the restricted life he was left with, and being alone and
basically unwanted, he talked about sex and sexual things all the time;
and he was very sexist, to extremes, he was angry at being unable to
shock me and the way I bounced back from his cutting comments, but he
did hurt me, no matter how I bounced back, his names and slurs were
nasty, and it got worse, he got more and more bitter because I was put
on skilled duties such as strimming, which he could not do, and he
didn’t like my speed and skill, just as he didn’t like the sex
offender’s speed and skill, he would sulk and bang about and get nasty.
On a good day he would tell us of his sexual exploits, including the favourite story about a girl who he and the team called 'the ginger dollop' who apparently used a vibrator, for some reason the team thought this was henious that she slept with him and then used a vibrator. I don't really understand.
He hit me on the arm one day and I had to tell the supervisor and the
boss, and he also threatened a very sick sexual assault on me, but I am
pretty sure I never reported it, I would not sit in the back of the van
with him, despite being strong I was scared of him, I told JM about him
and she said ‘Oh it sounds like he is really unhappy and what he needs
is a good cry’, which is bizarre.
JM's reaction to abusers and angry men was always in sympathy to them.
As for the other two, they just didn’t like work or life, they were no great problem to me.
This is the first time I have really thought about all this, and I am shocked to remember it.
boss of this team was a brute, trying to punish the anger and
aggression out of the Asbergers Boy, unsuccessfully, leaving him
confused, depressed and unhappy, punishing him, you cannot bring an
Autistic spectrum person ‘under control’ with aggression and harsh
punishment, in autism, anger means fear and distress, it means things
need working though and the root of the ‘anger’ found and resolved.
boss banned my employment officer coming up to see me, so I had to meet
him after work, the boss said that the employment officer had been
coming up interfering and poncing about in his office, thinking he could
change the rules.
The employment officer had heard of JM through
me, and heard that she was my mentor and priest, and he wanted to meet
her, so I agreed that and arranged a meeting, I would rather having JM
working with my life within my eyesight than doing it underground, so to
speak. So JM came to my bedsit, she seemed surprised by my
cosy little bedsit where I was so happy, I had a pot of tea and a plate
of biscuits waiting, and JM and I sat and chatted while we waited for
this employment officer to turn up.
The employment officer came in and he told JM that he
wanted to help me and make sure I had more support, but he needed to
work with us to find out what support I needed, I accepted this, he told
JM he also wanted to work with me without anyone getting the wrong
idea, and that is why he had asked to meet her and that he wanted me to
have supper with him and his wife in order that I felt safe and trusted
him, this was all very kind of correct and unusual, he also found out
that I knew a pub where hash could be bought and he was joking about
that with me and wanting the ‘codeword’ so he could get some for his
wife. It was a nice meeting, a hopeful meeting, I was not denying that I
knew I had unnamed problems and still needed therapy, in fact I would
have given my eye teeth, whatever they are, for insight, diagnosis and
therapy, and here was a man who was trying to help. I also remember a
comment he made to me about JM ‘The Vicar has faith in you’. Which is
But he got too involved and made too many promises, he kept
saying he would do things, get me on courses, arrange therapy, and he
did nothing, kept missing appointments, I got cross, kept texting him to
nag, which is a bad autistic habit, get something on the brain and keep
on and on about it, as anyone who is reading this will know. Autistic loop or fixation, causes a lot of problems, especially when I get angry with someone.
at the workplace said ‘why waste time with that ponce and the cobblers
he talks? I will be your employment officer and you can cut ties with
that organisation and just be under our umbrella’ (he had a green and
white umbrella but I do not like umbrellas), I wasn’t sure, so the boss said, ‘keep it in mind’,
JM spoke to him, but this was a time where JM’s opinion and
intervention was not to my benefit, then the employment officer was
being transferred, he tried to refer me to another employment man who I
instantly disliked, he was the sort of man you could look at in the
street and know he was extremely gay, but that wasn’t the problem, I
like gay men normally, but this guy just gave me the creeps. It was not his sexuality that gave me the creeps exactly, it was something about him.
transfer time I had an interview for a job elsewhere, I had been
searching again for a job since not long after coming to the current
‘job’, and the old employment officer adamantly said he would go with me
to the interview despite the transfer, and then shortly before the
interview I was contacted by the new guy who said he was going with me, I
said no, he said yes, and said I was to meet him somewhere to go with
him, he was ORDERING ME TO MEET HIM, I was not going to a scary job
interview with this domineering stranger, so I did not go, and so I was
in his black books, and lost my interview, the boss at the job again
said that he would be my employment officer, looking back I know that
the two supported employment organizations were rivals and at
loggerheads and not just over me. They clashed about other clients caught between them, including the Asperger lad.
But then along came my original
employment officer, he was normally working in a different area but came
back to help me, I remember funnily enough having a dream that he would
come back not long before he did. He started looking at moving me from
that stressful team who were making me sick with stress. But then he was
promoted, I jokingly told him he was promoted because he was the only
employment officer who could work with me but he didn’t understand my
joke, then he was gone and the grim boss became my employment officer as
well as my boss, but I was afraid of him.
He was only briefly my
employment officer, because after threats from my team mates and being
hit, he told me I was the one at fault, even though I had not caused the
threats and jealousy and being hit, the brain damaged man and the angry
autistic man had been building up to this and had also damaged my
motorbike by moving it, which I complained about, because they shouldn't have touched it, but the boss thought he would squash me when I
fought back, so he tried to squash me, I had a breakdown and was off
work for some time, I ended up on anti-depressants that affected my
concentration and memory and made my muscles twitch, but didn’t make me
better, I became severely depressed and considered suicide but did
nothing about it.
Again the anti-depressants left me ill.
I voluntarily and out of curiosity joined MIND and started going to social groups there, I met some lovely
people, I made a friend who was very like my old friend from college and who also got me
hyperactive with her, but we came to no harm.
I liked Mind but
my autism meant I could be in a whole roomful of people there and still
feel and be alone, I would get a cuppa and disappear into the quiet
room, but if one or two people got me to join them for pool, I was
happy, there was awonderful support worker, who as well as getting me to
play pool would get me to draw cartoons and play noughts and crosses
with him, and in the end other people would join in with this and I got
quite socialised, but sadly the structure and funding at mind changed
and no one told me
Suddenly there was nothing to join in with and
one of the two support workers who had worked with me had gone back to
Scotland, and I don’t know if the other stayed on, he was a rock singer with
long hair and piercings, a most unusual support worker, he and the
other support worker, helped me tremendously, and I was very
disappointed in Mind for the way they took that support away in the new
structure and did not explain anything to me.
The other support I
received was from the youth service, which also restructured
in a way that left me without help, and the youth worker who helped me
also moved away to return to university, she was a traveller and understood my background.
The Youth Service worked very
hard towards getting me assessed for Autism as well as helping me look
for new jobs after hearing what I was suffering in the ‘job’ I was in.
And Mind provided me with many activities and day trips which
enriched my life a lot.
The work placement described in this post did me lasting psychological damage.