Somerset

Guide to help 'hopeless, feckless and workshy' find jobs

I'm Ready - the guide
Image caption Clean Slate needs to raise £5,500 to publish the guide, which is called "I'm Ready"

A guide to help the "hopeless, feckless and workshy" find a job has been written by a social entrepreneur in Bath.

Jeff Mitchell, who is looking for a publisher, has spent the past 20 years working with ex-offenders and addicts to get them off the streets and back to work.

The book includes experiences from "hundreds" of the long-term unemployed people he has worked with.

Mr Mitchell runs social enterprise Clean Slate. Its clients are regular companies, but its workforce comprises ex-offenders, recovering addicts or just people struggling to get back into employment.

"There's a real misconception that long-term unemployed people are unemployable but it's a complete nonsense as far as I'm concerned," he said.

Image caption Jeff Mitchell is using a crowdfunding website to raise the money needed

Mr Mitchell set up The Big Issue in the West, modelled on the London edition, designed to help homeless people earn a living and some self-respect.

He noticed that as people got into a working routine selling the magazine they also started believing they were employable.

He said: "The light comes on, they're re-activated as active job seekers, it doesn't seem so hopeless any more. From there, anything is possible."

In Bath's Combe Down area I met a team out delivering leaflets for a local house-builder.

'Bunch of skivers'

The work looks dull, going from house to house dropping leaflets through the door.

But team leader David Cromarty said: It's a brilliant feeling, because we all want to work.

"I know some people call us a bunch of skivers but we all want to work so to be given that opportunity is great."

Image caption David Cromarty said delivering leaflets for Clean Slate had given him back his self-esteem

Mr Cromarty is 34, and worked as a pizza delivery driver until he lost his job in 2012. It was the third time, and he lost his confidence as well.

"I tried going for jobs but since I didn't believe in myself I was pretty unconvincing, he said.

Working with Clean Slate restored his self-esteem, but also gave him practical skills like CV writing and preparing for interviews.

Now he works as an actor as well as running Clean Slate's leaflet drop teams.

Helping long-term unemployed people like Mr Cromarty back into employment arguably matters more than ever now, because so many others have found work.

In Bath, the numbers claiming Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) have fallen well below pre-recession levels.

In December 2007 there were 890 people on JSA, rising to 2,368 in October 2012.

But by November 2015, the numbers had fallen back down again to 615. By contrast, there are still 165 people who have been out of work for more than a year, compared with 65 in December 2007.

'Self-belief'

Mr Mitchell's book is called "I'm Ready" and it tells the stories of homeless people and ex-offenders who have managed to get back into work, and pulls out tips for others.

In order to get it published, they are using the crowdfunding website Kickstarter. They need about £500 by midnight on Tuesday to meet their £5,500 target.

Local businessman Karl Tucker has put money into the guide.

He said: "I'd like to believe that by supporting this initiative it will provide people with the motivation, drive and belief in themselves to begin the journey back to full, positive involvement in society."

Mr Mitchell said: "We didn't want just to ask for charity. We've set it up as a business. Back us, take a share, take some books, be part of the project."

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