From working at Macintyre (which wasn't the happiest of experiences, of which I am not going to discuss here.) I went off to join several temp agencies in Bedford and did industrial temping, working in such places as a factory making cook/chill meals, working on a production line packing flowers for some well-known supermarkets (an experience in itself. Whenever I go into a supermarket such as Tesco and I see the flowers which are generally on display near the entrance, I get a shiver down my spine as I recall the long hours standing packing similar blooms near Sandy, Bedfordshire.) packing Christmas cards and even sticking items inside magazines out on an industrial estate in the north of Bedfordshire at the dead of night, and returning home at around 6 a.m. Not nice.
Having done this type of work for around a year to eighteen months, during which time I had no car, I eventually saved up enough cash to eventually purchase a new car and then sign up with a care agency in Bedford called Care On Call. I reckoned that I would actually prefer that sort of work to being treated rather badly as an industrial temp. I have to say I rather enjoyed the work, even though my experience of working for Macintyre wasn't exactly great. There were quite a few instances when, as a temp, I was expected to arrive at a particular office of one agency at some unearthly hour of the morning, for example 6.30, and be expected to then board a mini bus and be taken miles to some industrial estate in the middle of nowhere and start work on a production line, but on many cases then to be informed that your presence is no longer required and have to wait hours before you can expect to be transported back to central Bedford. In some cases you have to pay the agency £10 for them to ferry you home at unexpected times of day. Just a clever way for them to make money out of you. Or to be taken somewhere you weren't expecting, not being informed and then working in another industrial unit without your knowledge until you arrive.
Anyway, having signed up with Care On Call, as with anything to do with care, you then have to go through the process of providing a great deal of paperwork to prove your identity, your bank statement, ultility bills, etc etc as well as paying a fee for a C.R.B. check to be made before you can work for them. Once that is done, which can take several weeks, you have to undertake the mandatory training which includes manual handling, fire safety, etc etc. I have done manual handling numerous times and can perhaps parrot the whole course off the top of my head I've done it so many times. One agency I signed up for, which will remain nameless, would give you a set of DVDs to watch for training purposes and a sheaf of paperwork to fill in, in the expectation that you will fill these in having viewed the DVDs, and this was very easy as all you had to do was stop and start the DVD to find the answers to the questions in the paperwork we were given. This on such subjects as fire safety, infection control and protection of vulnerable adults. Quite honestly, not a very good method of delivering this sort of information. Once you'd completed the paperwork satisfactorily you were then given a certificate. As someone said, Sam Goldwyn I think, not worth the paper it was printed on.And to cap it all I was expected to fork out something like £25 to this agency for the privilege. You might call it a total rip-off.
When I did eventually get out working for Care On Call I found the agency quite good to work for. You'd get a telephone call to ask if you could fill a shift, the next day, or even an hour or two hence. I did shift in many of the N.H.S. homes for learning disabilities that had opened up since Bromham Hospital closed at the end of the 1990's. Some of these are out in the out-lying villages, such as Oakley, Harrold, Carlton, Bromham, Wilstead as well as several within Bedford town itself. I then did some shifts at one home at Everton, on the road to Potton. This was called Country Cottage, actually a bungalow, and it's residents were elderly people with learning disabilities. It was quite a pleasure driving the 12-or so miles out through Sandy and across the A1 and part of the drive went through a very attractive wooded area near Sandy Heath. During the spring there were bluebells in the woods and I even saw munkjack deer wandering across the road, which made the journey all the more interesting. What made this particular place good to work in was that the hours of work were from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., which meant I could get home in good time. By 7 p.m. most of the work was completed and so I was able to go home then, but staff remained until the usual time of around 9 p.m. when the night shift began.