Mary Turner writes about her son struggling to find work.
My son is shy and does not always mix well with other people. He lacks certain social skills, but he is a lovely person and sensitive to other people’s needs. He has been unemployed for some time, and there is pressure on him from all sides to ‘get a job’.
He has had various jobs, but many have ended with him being made redundant. He was forced into claiming Job Seekers Allowance. As everyone knows, there is a stigma associated with claiming benefits. Unemployed people are thought to be lazy, idlers, scrounges and the rest. Signing on every two weeks became an unbearable process for him.
He would try to get work and spend most of his time looking through ads. Or he’d search for jobs on the internet and visit the local Job Centres. But all this effort always ended in frustration. Rarely did he get an interview. When he did, he would get so worked up he could barely speak to the panel. And after such an interview he would come home upset with himself, and sometimes with us and the family pressure ‘to get some work’. He was miserable and more and more dispirited. His dad and I decided the best help we could give him would be to ease off the pressure and, above all, stop asking him how the job searches were going.
The Job Centre interviews the jobless on a regular basis. Unemployed people lack confidence anyway, and more ebbs away with all the pressure. But the worst part is when you are made to take courses which you have already done, and for subjects for which you are well qualified. The final humiliation is when you are sent to work for nothing – for no pay, just your travel expenses for a month with a half with a promise of a job at the end, which does not materialise.
I’ve been frightened that our child, ‘now a man’, will feel so bad that his depression will turn into something much worse. I fear he might decide he would rather not be here, with us, in this world. We’ve been close to this already. It was a situation that could not be ignored.
Our son became ill and needed professional help. He went to the doctor. But the doctor did not realise how dangerously near the edge he was. The doctor sent him home with a prescription, never looking further at the cause of his depression. This meant our son found himself back in the hands of the agencies. It took a good few letters to the Job Centre, and elsewhere, before he was assessed as unfit for work, got sickness benefit, and help from a psychologist. Our son is now recovering and doing voluntary work.
But how many other people are trapped by joblessness in this society?