« Previous | Main | Next »

5 live Drive: Unemployment Blogs - April

Jo Meek | 13:26 UK time, Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Drive is following the fortunes of a group of young jobseekers who come from areas hit hardest by the economic downturn. Each of them is facing different barriers to finding work, but all are determined to find ways to change their lives for the better.

This month the group discuss how their hunt for for work has been going, and how the UK could learn from other countries.

Craid Atherton

It’s been a month since my last blog and it seems like yesterday. So much has happened within the last four weeks.

Soon after the last live broadcast I travelled down to London to see Wayne Euston-Moore at Adrem, which is a creative career consultancy designed specifically for architecture, design and the digital industries. I had almost two hours of his time and I didn't feel rushed; we spent time discussing each element of my CV and folio. There was a huge improvement from the first attempt but I still had a lot of work to do.

We also talked about what direction I should take. He suggested to head towards being an editorial designer - this would be working for a magazine and designing the layout. It’s definitely a role I’d love to do! There are way too many things to list that we talked about, as I took so much from the meeting. Not just information and facts but confidence too. I can’t thank him enough as his advice was invaluable.

That same day I spent hunting around London for rooms to rent. j-me original design, based in London, had offered me some work experience with them earlier that week via my mentor Richard Joseph. I was feeling confident and thought that I’d got nothing to lose. I couldn't refuse this opportunity so signed a contract for a room that night. I moved in a week later...

I’m now in my second week of being a resident of London. It’s been tougher than I thought. Everything is different from Manchester; I think northerners are a little bit more chilled. It’s weird because I never thought it was possible to be lonely in a huge city like London but you could walk past a thousand people down here and not one will speak. They’re all going in their own direction and they don't say sorry if they bump into you. It’s like you don't exist sometimes but I am quickly learning how things are done down here. 'Don't txt and walk at peak times'; 'Don't take things to heart'; 'Squeeze on that tube because the next ones just as full'; 'Get an Oyster card'; 'Purchase a tube app'; 'use Google Maps for everything'.

I now have a completed 30-page CV and folio, found myself some unpaid work with new magazine 'Oath' to be launched next month, and met up with Sarah Farrari who runs Spindle Magazine who gave me advice and tips.

I’m trying to network like crazy but it’s hard when you have no money to go anywhere. As soon as I get some spare cash I need to print some business cards. I still have a mountain to climb but for once in my life I have some direction and I am feeling confident in my abilities as a designer.

In between moving to London and learning the southern ways I had the opportunity to go back to Manchester where I met Javi, a Spanish lad who moved to my home city to try and find work as a teacher. We spoke about the economy in Spain, their new government and reforms and the effect it’s having on the people. This was a huge eye opener for me. I had seen vague reports on the news about Spain but I didn't know they had a 24% unemployment rate and that things are getting worse. It sounded like they were having the same problems as us in England but theirs seems to be on a much larger scale. It was nice to hear that the Spanish help each other out and that they are very family orientated; hard times like we are in has made those ties and morals even stronger. The time I spent with Javi was a huge eye opener, I questioned, is this what's to come for us in the UK?

Who can tell what the future holds but I think more needs to be done by our Governments. We need to look at places like Holland and look at why they have a low unemployment rate. We need to stop experimenting with ways to get the economy going again and learn lessons from those that are working. We need to manufacture more products within the UK instead of importing them. We as consumers need to fully understand the consequences of our buying actions. We all need to educate ourselves more on how our country is run.

I have learned a lot within the past few months and I am determined to use this opportunity to the full. Who knows where ill be in another three months but I have my confidence back and I am keeping myself upbeat and optimistic about my future. I've come so far but still have a long way to go and I wouldn't be at this point without the help of Vic Turnbull and the team at NoiseFestival.com and Jo Meek from Wise Buddah. Thank you. x

Danielle Devlin

I was left pretty dejected after the last radio show. I didn’t feel I come over all that well and was pretty flummoxed when it came to being put on the spot about pricing.

Trying to explain pricing of this product is pretty difficult because it is governed by a lot of different factors. For example, mural size, the time it would take, or materials. I really need to see the space or at least have the size of the space as a guide so being asked on the radio a price was pretty hard to gauge.

Afterwards it got me thinking that I may have bitten off more than I could chew. Maybe it wasn’t a good idea with the economic climate the way it is to be trying to start up a new business. It also worried me that I seemed to be putting all my eggs in one basket, so at the start of the month I set about putting applications in for different jobs from KFC to the RSPCA. I began to panic that soon my New Enterprise Allowance would drop to half and I wouldn’t be able to keep going without at least a part-time job.

But fate stepped in and gave a helping hand…

Just as I had resigned myself to the fact that my business was going to be a non-starter I got my first call from the local school who wanted a mural for the computer room/library. This mural consists of 20 canvas paintings making up a timeline. This stretches from the Big Bang to present day. I finally have my first paid commission!

This gave me a great confidence boost; finally I knew that there was a market for my business. I called the local community centre back to see how they were getting on…and that gave me my second mural. The local Community Centre wanted the mural finished for their communal garden. I’ve spent the second week of the Easter Holidays completing it with the help of everyone there.

It was a fantastic experience and has given me an even bigger confidence boost; the people that I worked with were great and here were some fantastic artists involved, it’s going to look beautiful in the communal garden. They are also putting my name forward for further art projects within the local community. I’m dropping some business cards in next week.

So on the business side of things it’s going great. I just hope it carries on, even if I get one a month. It’s an amazing feeling being able to work for yourself and know that it’s your business and it’s your hard work. It is also such a joy to do something you love to do for a living. Fingers crossed in six months time I’ll still be here painting murals.

In between doing the two murals - which both started the same week - I also recorded a phone call for the programme and spoke to a lovely German guy called Lion. The idea behind the call was to discuss Germany’s situation because they have a much lower unemployment rate.

Germany have mini jobs, where you can earn up to 400 euros per month tax free from a job and you can have many mini jobs that run alongside each other. From talking to Lion, these are really helpful for gaining much needed experience in the work place and earning at the same time.

I think this could be a workable scheme in Britain. We could choose certain job sectors such as bar/waiting staff and make these jobs part time only. People could work say 16 hours a week in these rolls but no more – for a full-time job you could employ 3 people within the role where normally there would only be one. I do wonder if it would be a false economy but at the same time this system has worked in Germany, maybe it’s worth giving this a go? What do we have to lose with unemployment figures at there highest for years?
I hope that from what we have touched on through this series of radio shows the government can take something from it. There are so many people in the UK working so hard to find work but looking at it at its most basic we don’t have enough jobs for the people we have unemployed. We have a recession where everyone is tightening their belts and we also have local high streets that are disappearing by the day, while every day in the news we hear of a different business going into administration. I do think the government need to look at better ways to help us as a whole because right now it isn’t working.

I also hope that more people will learn about the New Enterprise Scheme and that it’s more widely advertised within Job Centr. Someone might just have an idea like I had, and maybe with the help of the scheme they could start their own business. Fingers crossed for the future.

Karen Wan

A lot has happened since I was last on air; I’ve had interviews to prepare for, researched networking groups, started some work with The Scarlet Life – a motorsport, fashion and lifestyle marketing company - and revisited my thoughts on permanently moving to Hong Kong to find work.

Last time, I mentioned I had an interview coming up. How did it go? Well, unfortunately I didn’t get the job as I lacked client-facing experience (it was for an assistant consultant role), which for the nature of the position is completely understandable. However, the feedback I received was very positive. The interviewers really liked me, were thoroughly impressed with my presentation and thought my interview performance was great.

Since then, I’ve had a couple more interviews, which I’m still waiting to hear back from so fingers crossed!

I’ve also spoken to my friend Martin about his experiences of job hunting in Hong Kong. He moved there a year ago after not having any luck in the UK job market either. Since he’s been in Hong Kong he’s had two jobs and now looking to set up his own business. He’s also found that it’s not just British graduates making the move over there, but graduates from around the world including America and Canada…am I missing out on something?

I’ve given myself a deadline for getting a job in the UK. If I don’t get anything full time by October 2012 I’m getting on a plane and leaving. I’ve always dreamt of having a job that involved international travel and if those prospects aren’t looking good, I might as well go internationally for a job instead.

In the mean time, I’ve got work with The Scarlet Life to help me towards reaching my goal. So far I’ve done some social media work with them, created a web brief for an upcoming project and talked strategy. There’s more to come and I’m thoroughly looking forward to it as I’ve really enjoyed it so far.

5 live Drive's unemployment series is a Wise Buddah / NOISEfestival production.

Jo Meek is a producer for 5 live Drive's unemployment special


  • Comment number 1.

    UK Unemployment is reported down by 35K between November and February 2012
    Is this due to amendments restricting no's of foreign students as a contributing factor?

  • Comment number 2.

    I heard Craid (hope that is his correct name spelling) on Drive. After Peter saying the usual anti-London scathing stuff Craid actually said how much he was enjoying life here after the initial shock, and that does not come across in his blog. I am so sick of every vox pop and studio guest appearing to come from a 25 mile radius of Salford, whilst the rest of the country can go hang. Shame if it is different (it is) in Bristol. or Norwich, or Cardiff. We will never know. Likewise the 2012 Radio 5Live commissioned poll, saying most people think negatively about most of it - probably done on the main shopping drag of Manchester.

    Frankly everyone who is unemployed should get a mentor, I said this in the earlier blog about these young people. But if this isn't possible, there are many charities running local schemes and if there isn't one where you live, then maybe local BBC radio should be trying to encourage them to be set up. Craid clearly loves his home city so surely he should try to stay there? Why set him up with London-based helpers?

  • Comment number 3.

    I see from the old blog it is Craig not Craid as appears above.

  • Comment number 4.

    Why don't the BBC pay the 6,000 odd interns & work experience (usually nieces, God-children & mates of mates) as well as the contributors here, instead of exploiting them?

  • Comment number 5.

    There's been some comments on other blogs asking 'what is the point' of these blogs. Will's response has been - to paraphrase - to add depth and broaden knowledge.

    This seems to be a great example. I, amongst many, am lucky enough to be in employment and so struggle to understand how long term unemployment must affect the mind of the majority of these who are unemployed and yet not the stereotypical 'wasters'. These blogs have given me an insight, I'm rooting for them, I;m pleased for Dannielle and her first paid commission.

    These people do not fit the stereotype so many of us have of the unemployed as sitting at home, counting the benefits but I bet they are more representative of those who are looking for work.

    Well done five live, this piece seems to have fullfilled the objective of broadening my knowledge both on air and then on the blog.


More from this blog...


These are some of the popular topics this blog covers.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.