One of the best parts of this blog – and one of the most humbling – is hearing the stories from those who are unemployed or have their own unemployment story to share. I received this story from Emma Asante, a blogger at My Sidekick and Me. She agreed for me to share her details and I hope that by doing so, one of my readers can reach out and lend a hand. The rest of this post is written by Emma.
After a relationship breakdown, I gave up my job to become a full time parent. My daughter was not much older than a year and my main priority was just to make sure she was taken care of. Obviously with no income, I put in a claim for benefits. At the time, I figured It would be a couple of months and I would find something, sort out some childcare and get back on my feet.
This was about 9 years ago!
As I sit writing this, I just think what the hell went wrong? How did a few months turn into 6, then a year, then 2, then before I knew it I’m sitting here knowing that 9 years have passed but yet nothing has changed. I’m still struggling to pay for basic necessities. Rarely able to afford any nice luxuries, never had a holiday and at times had to choose between spending the last few pound in my bank account on gas or food.
How did things get like this? I have gone from being on income support, to being “forced” onto job seekers allowance where I have fortnightly signings and get penalized like a naughty child if I don’t mark down every little thing I have done in relation to looking for work.
I seem to have lost my way and the longer I am out of work, the harder it is to get back into it. I am nothing more than a statistic now that I am unemployed and I will always be in that category of the typical single mum claiming benefits. No one cares that I am daily trawling the internet looking for available jobs. No one cares that I go to an interview for the highly “unskilled” position or “frozen produce replenishment” (which is just a fancy way of saying freezer filler) only to be told that the other person I was interviewing with was more qualified for the role.
I know I have little or no chance when applying for jobs, given that I left school before sitting my exams so have no formal qualifications. That and the long gap in employment hardly leaves an employer eager to learn more about me. I was even told that I was too old to go to college and that if I chose to study I would relinquish my right to my benefits. I just feel worthless and it is a near impossible task to try and sell yourself to an employer when you feel you have nothing to sell.
Is this all I have to look forward to?
Another 10 years of doing nothing and barely scraping by? My daughter is now 10 years old and I want her to be proud of her mum. But all she sees is a daily struggle making ends meet. I could easily say that this will be the year things change but believe me, as quickly as I say it, the year comes to an end and its January again.
I know that most of the (working) people would read this and think I was just a typical lazy single parent that would rather sit around getting paid for nothing. That’s just the way society thinks. But I want nothing more than to be able to sign off and start earning for myself. I know that with employment will come self worth and confidence and I am just praying for that one day that someone will look past the piece of paper and give me a chance to be a hardworking successful person that I can be.