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Give yourself a chance

A recent report shows that an increasing number of people who work are in poverty - so should you give up on looking for a job?

The news this week that 13 million people in the UK are living in poverty got me thinking about my time as a support worker. I spent nearly four years working  with people who, among many other issues,  had poor mental health, suffered abuse, lived with drug and alcohol addictions or were experiencing homelessness – but regardless of their situation most shared the problem of living in poverty.

John* was 18 when we first met – he was struggling to find work so was volunteering at a local sports and recreation centre in the hope that the experience gained would help him into paid employment.

I helped him with the process of moving into a flat, setting up his utilities and claiming the benefits that he needed until he could find work. It soon became obvious that his out-goings far out-weighed his income. He received less than £58 per week Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) and although housing benefit covered his rent, he still had to pay for his water, gas and electricity which, between them, took up well over half of his income – and that’s before we consider the cost of his TV licence and travel costs to get to his ‘job’ and his regular trips to the job centre.

He seldom bought clothes, but when he did it meant a trip to the charity shop. His food cupboards contained the cheapest beans and pasta – not the healthiest or most nutritious meals and he had no social life whatsoever.

His time was spent either volunteering or searching for work – he was desperate to start earning so that he could eat properly – it was a harsh welcome to the adult world for a young man who had no family to support him.

The latest report from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation shows that of the 13 million people in poverty, half of them live in a working family. With it also suggesting that wages have fallen, John’s dream of climbing out of poverty by finding work may be tougher to achieve than he first thought.

Luckily, John didn't think that it was an option not to work and I’m of the opinion that, if given the opportunity, it is always better to be working – even if at first you are struggling financially. If you’re not in work (paid or voluntary) it's hard to progress and grow – you have to be open to opportunities and by not working, fewer opportunities will be available to you. Everything that we do in the work place goes towards building much needed experience that employers look for when recruiting or promoting from within.

Getting into work and giving yourself the chance to escape poverty is one of the highest priorities of many people. Bromford’s focus on this area has increased greatly in recent times with work clubs ‘popping up’ in many areas in which we work.

Bromford's work club in Perton, West Midlands, helped Brian to get online, put together a CV and get in touch with an employment agency who quickly found him his next role in his line of work as a wood pattern maker – watch his story here.

Preparation when searching for a job is key to making your quest for work as effective as possible.Take a look at these dos and don’ts and you may soon find yourself in a position where you are preparing for a job interview. When looking for work you can give yourself a better chance of getting in front of your potential employers by following just a few golden rules when completing a job application. Find out more here.

*Name changed


Communication specialist - My days are spent telling stories, networking, copywriting, posting on social media and delivering training to colleagues - a bit of everything really! 

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