A jobsearching Mum’s story

Looking for work can be really tough, looking for flexible employment that fits around school hours and holidays can be even harder, as the jobs that do come up are in such high demand.  Below is the very honest account of a Mum who has fled her previous life to start afresh with her child in a new area, she has kindly shared her story with us.  We are working with her to find the right solution for her, and we will hopefully be updating this story soon with a happy ending!

I married for love some years ago to a man my age but of a different colour and culture. I took on his religion and a new name to go with it. Things were good to begin with, but things slowly changed, so slowly I did not see it coming. The control and my life diminishing apart from work and home, nothing else. I had a child and things got worse. Me as a person was gone. I was a full time worker and any other time I was Mum. No “me time”, no free time, no nights out and I let this go on for about two years. I was getting more and more in debt thanks to him. Life at home was awful, so miserable, I got very bad depression and was signed off work for two months. My child and I were suffering, weeks of silence in the house, one living upstairs and one downstairs, the child torn between the two.

There came a night when things came to a head and 8 weeks of not talking was broken by a dreadful argument and wrestling match. Things did not change and there was no acknowledgement of any problems in the marriage. I decided I had to take action for my child’s sake and my own.

My husbands culture meant that his friends would “report” back on me if they saw me out, so to leave him, I had to move away. Far away. I planned everything for when he was out the country, managed to pack some stuff into a friends garage and pack clothes, but everything else was left. I walked away from my home, my car, my friends, my job of eleven years and started again.

We moved into a women’s refuge for four months hundreds of miles away from what I knew. Then we got a house of our own. We started to build a new life for ourselves. I filled the house with charity furniture and other people’s generosity, my child started school and it was hard at first, I had to walk away listening to the screams.

Then my child turned 5 and suddenly I HAVE to find work. But now things are so much harder. I have no car, so rely on public transport to get anywhere. I hardly know anyone here so do not have a reliable source of child care. So I need part time work, that fits in the school opening hours, close by for transport.

Yet everyone thinks it sounds easy to get a job. “There is loads out there” is what I hear them say. There are jobs out there, but there are also lots of people applying for them. I have applied for over 60 jobs so far. And most of them you don’t hear a word back from. No acknowledgment at all. It is so demoralising, soul destroying. I have applied for jobs that I could do with my eyes shut but maybe I am overlooked in the volume of applicants. Also as I have a foreign name, there is the chance I am discounted as maybe I am seen as not having English as a first language.

I have had full time jobs pointed out to me by the job centre. I have no problem personally working full time, but what about my child? After what they have been through, how fair is it to put them in breakfast club AND after school club? That would be from 8am to
maybe 6pm every day, so 10 hours a day, 5 days a week in school. Is that fair?

I understand the culture of getting people in work and helping mums back to work. But the job centre and the government just see numbers, they do not see individuals. I am so scared that I am going to be worse off financially. They do not understand my worries. And they do little to help with them. I still do not know if I will lose my child’s free school meals. How much I can earn before my housing benefit is affected. Will I have to pay the council tax? But all they see when they look at me is another number on the unemployed list. I will have to pay transport costs. Possibly child care costs. Tax credits pay 70% of the cost of child care, but I pay 30%, how am I going to afford that? And what about school holidays? Six weeks of child care?

And then there is the stigma to live with, of being “unemployed”. One man told me I should be in the gutter for not feeling guilty for being unemployed. Until I pointed out to him that I am out of work because I had to run away from an abusive marriage so had to leave my job.

I am not stupid, I can write my own CV, my own letters, I don’t need a job club. I just need for them to keep off my back and let me get on with it. If they want proof of my applications, I can provide it. Stop making me come in for meetings. There is nothing to gain, every time they just tell me that I am doing everything I can….I already know that! I want to work, I need to work, I need to get out and mix with people and keep busy, some people think I enjoy not working. I DON’T.

I have had the depression now for nearly 3 years and still on the medication, recently it has been bad. And the job searching is not
helping me. How can I keep up the enthusiasm to apply when all I get is rejection or just plain silence? I have come close to asking the doctors for help. Asking them to “sign me off”, take away the pressure the job centre is putting on me.

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