A Sneyd Green Mum writes

The Sentinel carried a poignant letter recently from a Sneyd Green Mum whose 45 year old son had been out of work for 4 years and despite hundreds of job application remained unemployed. He had volunteered for 15 weeks within a Co-operative Store in the City. His mother felt that such a comparatively young man had been tossed onto a scrap heap

This heart felt cry puts into plain words the central difficulty that the unemployed face in trying to get into work in Stoke-on-Trent. The jobs are not out there. Last week the Sentinel advertised 378 jobs in an area where there are 11,000 unemployed.

This week it had fallen to just over 250. I realise that not all jobs will be in the paper but it seems indicative to me of the dearth of jobs available in North Staffs. I suppose the question needs to be asked what happens if we never get back to a situation where we have a plentiful supply of jobs. Are we going to be content with a situation when approaching a third of the population are either unemployed or underemployed?

This Sentinel letter is important for another reason. We have to nail the belief that is out there that unemployment is a personal failing. Its your fault. The Sentinel play this game with the article on clothing and the unemployed. Believe me trying to struggle on the pitiful Job Seekers Allowance is not easy. The argument that unemployment is the fault of the unemployed suits the Government and the agencies behind the Work Programme. I have a friend who has been out of work since November 2010. He like the man mentioned in the letter is in his 40s and Mrs Bailey of Sneyd Green is absolutely correct the prospect of landing a job after 40 is slight. Anyway my friend has now been allocated an into work adviser courtesy of Leek CVS. Tom- not his real name- calls jokingly this man who he has to see at the Nicholson Institute his Probation Officer. Tom has to fill in forms in duplicate that this not particularly helpful individual can scrutinise. Tom feels that he will be electronically tagged next. My point is that the Work Programme also works on the premise that its your fault and your continued worklessness is down to a character defect and not down to the bleedin obvious reason of the shortage of jobs.

What happens to people like Mrs Bailey’s son. Well we can leave him to rot with the prospect of hopelessness and the prospect of depressive illness or we try to do something to change the situation

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