Readers Letters and Emails

I have been receiving quite a few emails from members of our community telling me about their experiences of being unemployed and how they are, or are not, coping with the situation.

Many of them are keen to share their emails with the rest of our community in case it can help others so I thought the best way to achieve this was to add a readers letters / emails page.

Please let me know what you think and of course if you have something you would like to share or contribute, email it to me and I can add it here too.


Hello Steve

Saw your request for info on the web-site:

Do have a look at what we’re doing in Saffron Walden:

We’ve been active for just about a year now, seen over 90 clients in that time and helped many back into work.
If you’d like any more info about us, please feel free to ask.

Kind regards
for Transition Project


Hi Steve

I stumbled across your site whilst looking for support groups specifically for redundant professionals. I am delighted that you have taken the effort to drive this initiative as I am a recently redundant 49 year old who has worked in finance for the last 30 years in need of a new direction.

I live in the East of England (Colchester) and was amazed at the lack of a support network for people in my situation. After writing to a few people I have just found out that a man from Job Centre Plus has been given the mandate to set up a series of job clubs in the local region.

The Job Club initiative attracts people of all experiences and all ages. It is, in my opinion, almost impossible to define an agenda that will effectively marry the requirements of a redundant employee with 30 years experience to that of someone desperate to enter the workforce for the first time.

I am therefore eager to follow the example of the US 40 Plus groups who focus on the professional workers who have built and dedicated their lives to a career but now find themselves in a transitional situation. I firmly believe, as you do, that we need a collective voice for this demographic to better display our abilities and skills as well as to bring like minded people together.

I am interested in creating a physical meeting place, as per a job club, that would allow the group to deal with issues such as adult retraining and networking with employers desperate for skills of the already trained.

I would love to get your thoughts on how you think I should proceed with this venture as well as being able to work with your site to achieve this aim?

Kind regards.


Hi Steve,

I've just come across your contact details and wanted to find out if you know of any job clubs or networking events based around luton.

If not then i'm happy to maybe travel to london or the home counties.

Appreciate any help and assistance you can provide.

Kind Regards,


I had a look at the job club directory ( ) but there don't appear to be any listed there for Luton.
I did however manage to find this (below) which may be of some help:

Dunstable and Luton Job Club

If you have been made redundant, out of work, looking for a change or just wish to meet with other people in a similar situation to share ideas and contacts. The aim is to provide a place where you can get help with job searching, cv writing, interviews and network with others. 

Whatever your background or status join the job club today and start to feel positive about the future.

Please register your details via the Contact Page

You could also ask at your job centre if they know of any others as the government is supposed to be helping to set up job clubs.

Hope this helps.

Hi Steve

I've read about your site in The Guardian this morning.

After proving our business model over the last 2 years we are about to launch a white collar franchise (accountancy background preferred) with our company.

However after reading about the situation facing many 'white collars' I have decided to offer it for free to 3 of your members.

If your members have the background we're after and if this is interesting to you then please get in touch so I can give you more details..

Many thanks, you seem to be doing a great job.


Hi Steve

I've just found your website and thought I'd let you know about the Job Club I have set up in Eastmoor, Wakefield.

We meet every Friday morning (9-12) at the St Swithuns Community centre and currently offer free internet and computing access. We can also offer support with CV writing, interview techniques etc.

I have a good network of support in the district and so can also put people in touch with the support they are looking for if we can't offer it direct. Everyone attending gets a free memory stick to enable them to store CVs etc

We also have plenty of adult education classes running at the centre and so can help people access further training if required.

If you need any thing else please let me know - full details of the Job club are found on our website (under community groups).



Dom Charkin
Community Development Worker
St Swithuns Community Centre
01924 361212 ext 235
Visit our website for all the news and details of up coming events & activities.


Hi, could you tell me if there is a WCU group in Cambridge?

[ I am not aware of any groups in that area - do any of our other WCU community members know of any ? I have also asked - Steve]


I am a teacher / actor for a company called 'cat house theatre comany'. We are setting up a community project designed to help people who have been made unemployed or made redundant. I have spoken to Job Centre plus and they are interested in this, but I am finding it hard to find groups of people who have already been set up to help this issue in Birmingham.

If you have any information it would be greatly appreciated

Thank you for your time



[ If you can help or are interested, please email me and I can pass it on - thanks Steve]

Hi Steve

Just been onto your website and it looks pretty thorough..
However wondered if you or your website might be interested in taking a peek at my blog.
I started it back in 2008, 6 months after redundancy came my way.
Back in March this year I got back into work. The Blog is a diary of my experiences, some funny, some serious, and it may also be useful to those wondering how to make sense of it all etc. The job i've now got isn't the end of the story...

Best wishes

Mr WorkHope

REnovo flyer for job seekers


Following our phone conversation please find attached some literature that we give to JCP Advisers to help promote our service.  People can get access to our service at no charge if they are claiming JSA.  For those people who are not claiming then we can offer the following rates:

Renovo Online - Career management portal

Three months access to Renovo Online = £49.99 (normally £59.99)

Career / Job Search Consultations 

Personal Career Adviser consultation - £50 / hr (normally £75)

Combined package

Three months unlimited access to Renovo Online and 3 X 1 hour consultations with your own Careers Adviser = £175 (normally £250) (all prices inc VAT)


Although there are many providers on this contract we are the only one which combines 3 months unlimited one-to-one consultation with trained personal career advisers combined with 3months access to our career management portal.  Our feedback stats are impressive:

Nearly 50% of customers referred to us were back in work and to date we have had just over 9000 customers referred to us by 364 JCP offices in Scotland, England and Wales.  

Similarly our feedback has been equally pleasing. 



My Renovo adviser understood my needs


My CV has been reviewed and advice given on how to make improvements


I found my Renovo adviser to be professional and approachable


Overall I found that Renovo had added value to my job-search


In addition we are constantly investing more money in improving the depth and breadth of our Career Management Portal – Renovo Online.  New functionality includes:

  • Aggregated Job Sites: - Groups together many thousands of job boards and pulls the roles into one easy to search location – Saving the customer time and finding more roles to apply for.
  • Webinars: - Online career workshops; customer has live access to interactive seminars – Easy and free to access from the comfort of their own home.
  • Hoovers Online Database: - Covers 28 million companies from 600 sectors – Extremely helpful when finding companies to apply to as well as interview preparation.
  • Psychometric Tests: - 5 different tests for your customers to practice on. These tests are more frequently used within interview processes and our tests not only produce valuable results regarding possible career options, personality and work style, but reduce the anxiety the customer may have.
  • CVs: - If you have customers who simply need help with CVs, please refer them to us, we know how to write a CV that will get read and noticed in today’s market.

Kindest regards



[Please substitute "members of our WCU community" in place of "customers" in the above text - Thanks, Steve]


Dear Steve,

I was pleased to find your site.

Unemployed, a former research fellow in Universities on fixed term contracts but also a professional lone parent, I feel that taking charge of my life goes beyond a pro-active approach to job search.

As a lone parent, I feel very frustrated. Having done in the late 80s and early 90s everything that the government is NOW advocating in the 'New Welfare Reform', I am back in the poverty trap. I returned to education as a mature student to prepare myself to go out and bring up my daughter free of state benefits. It was hard, in the years prior the New Labour government when there was no support with childcare, no tax credits. 20 years down the road, I fulfilled my part of the bargain and achieved this target.... and here I am back in free fall into the poverty trap not able to support my daughter through the last mile of her education and training.

During the years working and bringing up my daughter, I forfeited to try to contribute into an occupational pension because I needed the income to provide for my child and give her the opportunities for her future I felt she deserved. I couldn't manage it all, housing, her education, care and living... I do not regret my choices, the options were very limited on one income and I did the best I could.

I am not prepared to take my return to the poverty trap and be silent....certainly not, when the coalition government is planning already £11bn cuts to the welfare state, while the banking sector is only (after having been bailed out by the public purse) asked to contribute a levy of £2bn, which it will no doubt pass on into service charges to its customers.

Nothing substantial was done to cut Tax Havens, a radical measure which would have brought a minimum of £10bn to £15bn into the public purse in the first year, for example. But for that, the government has to be prepared to clamp down on the huge abuse that is made of tax havens, from corporations (including the banks!) and rich individuals. It has to take a stand for collective social and environmental welfare above and beyond just private profits. We have lost sight of some basic human values. Business (economic activity) is not just about creating private wealth for the few but for creating a more equitable, socially and environmentally sustainable society and world. We need to put our economies in transition.

This 'transition' is not about creating more of the same: it is a big shift and we are at a turning point historically. We have to heed the call of the times. Currently we are regressing.  Those currently holding a disproportionate share of wealth and power, brainwash the rest of us into making us pay so they can retain this power and wealth. A quick check at the Office of National Statistics will show that 1/5 of the British population hold (and control) 62% of its wealth. It is also a fact that the value created in the real economy is a minute fraction compared to the huge speculative (unproductive paper) value that was the thrill of the last 30 years.

Note that in the late 90's, the 'real economy' (goods and services) had value of $30 trillion/year, while the paper assets trading and speculation (including currencies) had a value in the same period of $2 trillion a day. Something a lot more radical has to be done to reset the conditions for a healthy way forward. Money is fundamentally a 'public good'.... we should try to remember this and behave accordingly to regain some sense and control over 'money flows' and a more equitably distributed wealth creation. We don't need 'social mobility' we need a more equitable society.

The fact is, working people are made to pay for the casino economy that has driven the cycle into the pits.

I think that taking control over my 'small' life, means taking control and assuming my individual and democratic responsibilities, yes, but also to demand my rights, as a citizens, as a mother and as a worker. Unemployment today is a political and ethical issue. What tomorrow do we wish for? Are we going to stand for a better tomorrow? And if so, and we are honest with ourselves, what does this imply?

I am now 55 years old and my experience of job search has been incredibly tough like all the other contributors. Over-qualification is as much if not more of a hindrance (together with age) than an asset. I have searched widely prepared to take pretty low pay. But none of it works. I have been referred to a Flexible New Deal provider which is a total waste of time and waste of tax payers' money as it simply duplicates my signing on at Job Centre Plus, nothing else. I sign on at Job Centre Plus and I sign on at FND. The scheme has strictly NOTHING to offer. Nobody is yet putting a figure on the cost of this 'private providers' to the public force! No doubt we will come back to this with hindsight, in a decade or so!!!. In the meantime, many are multinationals!

I have had enough. My view is, we need to stand and be counted. For the unemployed, it is a time to think very seriously.. the answer is not to be found just on an individual level, but on rethinking the significance and value of who we are, as a 'community'.... I personally am choosing among other action to join the Unemployed Workers Union. Alone we are nothing, together we can really change the quality of our lives and that of our future communities.


Hi Steve,

I have been unemployed for over 17 months. I wish to obtain a professional qualification (Microsoft Desktop Support Technician) in order to return to work in the IT sector. I have asked about financial help with the course fees at my local job centre, the Educational Grant Advisory Service and the Flexible New Deal provider (Standguide Ltd) . They have all told me that no help is available. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Hi Steve,

I have the following question for you ... do you think there is a good argument for the UK forcing employers to re-advertise all jobs occupied by temporary visitors from the likes of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa (ANZAS) on their jollies once unemployment goes over a certain level?

I raise the question because in the City Bank I was working, 8 of the 10 staff in Group Accounts were South Africans and today I’ve been for an interview where I was told they (the employer another British Bank) were looking for another “Stew” – A lovely Australian guy who has been temping there for a year… blah blah…

I am an older professional accountant who is fed up seeing our temporary market, particularly in London where the Job Agencies are run by ANZAS, distorted by these people enjoying a jolly at my own and many others expense.

And I am sure they aren’t just pinching the professional jobs, as I said they are firmly in the recruitment agencies too…

I’d be interested to hear what your other readers experiences are.




I love what you are doing. I am interested in knowing whether anyone plans a job club in Winchester – I moved here 5 months ago - and also whether you are interested in a live synchronous version – I would be interested in training how to run one. Well I can do the live synchronous bit, it is the job club I would need training for.

I have two white collar sons not working and really stuck with all the mental apparatus that goes with that.

B. Winchester 020610

The Entrepreneur

He is someone who has observed a problem and seen opportunity, this is the true Entrepreneur. If you work in a large institution and feel frustrated, trapped and do not like what you do, well you too could be a candidate.

Perhaps redundancy has presented you with an opportunity to rethink how you want your life to move forward. There are real opportunities out there for you. Common traits can indicate an entrepreneurial personality.

The entrepreneurial adult often shows as an entrepreneurial youngster. A desire to succeed is greater among those whose backgrounds show an extra drive to fit into society.

Entrepreneurs are driven not by the need to make money, but by the need to make their dreams a reality. More often than not, money is a by-product of an entrepreneur's motivation rather than the motivation itself.

The Armed Forces have many great examples of entrepreneurs – the list of achievers is more evident than in any other institution or industry. Obvious traits include – lack of fear, follow the known practice and accomplish, teamwork and motivation. Above all they are
participants not observers. All these traits are a necessary requirement in the business world.

In 1964 as a boy of thirteen years I left school to go to work with a clear goal to succeed. I did not know exactly at what, at 25 years of age I was in business for myself and later I would sell four of the five companies I had started and on further reflection from 1964 I was never unemployed for one single day or received any state benefits even through recessions. (These were the early signs of success and being an Entrepreneur)

Entrepreneurs are participants, not observers; they are players, not fans. To be an entrepreneur is to be an optimist, to believe that with the right amount of time, you can achieve your goals. Never seek advice or opinions from those who do not share your enthusiasm or drive.

In my own personal case I could always see the end game. Anything that arose between the Idea and the end game could be overcome, for me these were just issues to be overcome and as I could see the end game that would have to happen. I would always expect challenges and know that I would have to overcome them. This is part of making things happen.

Serene he stands amongst the flowers,
And only counts life’s sunny hours
For him dull days do not exist

The brazen face old Optimist

The more that say No it is impossible, the more that say there is a recession there is no point, and then there are the ones that say what if this or that happens. Read the signs, there is so much less competition for success.

Happy Days!

Hi Steve,

Wish I’d found this site sooner – I discovered it from a mention in The Guardian. At the time I was working (in a so-so position) and was about to go for interview for a “proper” job, which I was subsequently offered. Just like to let you know that I support what you’re trying to achieve with your site. I’ve experienced at first hand the nightmare of being made redundant from a middle-to-senior management position and then finding that the statement “don’t worry, with your experience/qualifications you’ll soon be sorted” didn’t apply in a recession. Here’s the story:

July 2008 – After a private equity buyout in the early part of the year, firstly my boss (one of the directors) was made redundant, and then it was my turn. So after 24 years of continuous employment, the last 14 for the same company, I was unemployed. The positives were that I was getting a reasonably generous severance package, some credits to use with an outplacement consultancy, and use of my company car for three months. The negatives (apart from the obvious one) were that my wife had moved to a lower-paid (but much less stressful) job, we’d committed a significant sum of money to buying a business for my wife to run, and my two sons were approaching university age.

September 2008 – Several job applications, no interviews. Belatedly registered with the Job Centre because I hadn’t realised I could actually claim JSA. As money wasn’t going to last forever, registered with an employment agency and got temp work as a data inputter. Most boring job imaginable. I was totally amazed by the sheer pettiness and incompetence of the management and supervisory staff. Carried on applying for jobs, had a couple of interviews, but no success.

March 2009 – Still data inputting, but contracts drying up and hours offered slowly dwindling. Ended up being sent home because there was no more work, and that was that. After a couple of weeks of fruitless searching, found a job as a driver/roadie for a theatre company. Self-employed status, flat daily wage rate regardless of hours. Proved to be interesting, but also proved to be erratic in terms of pay, and mostly seemed to be 18 hour days.

July 2009 – Theatre work finished (end of tour) but friend of wife’s (an IFA) needed an administrator. So started working in an office environment again. Salary reasonable for the work, but less than half of what I’d originally enjoyed.

January 2010 – My former boss had found a vacancy in a trade magazine which he emailed to me “just in case”. After some thought, I applied because “I might as well”. Good job I did – IFA had problems with the FSA and no longer had money to pay me.

February 2010 – Interview on Wednesday, job offered on Thursday, started Monday. Ecstatic. Negatives – only that the salary is around ¾ of original. Positives – management position, working in area that I’m familiar with, closest to home I’ve ever worked, and my employers don’t believe in anyone working all the hours god sends. 

I’ve learned a lot:

  • 18 months from redundancy to getting back into a proper job. In all that time I was only registered for JSA (and hence on the unemployment stats) for around 4 weeks. For the rest of the time I was seriously underemployed. Can’t think of a solution to this, but it certainly needs more publicity.
  • Get professional help with your cv. I had the benefit of advice from the outsourcing consultancy, and while I didn’t get many interviews, I did at least have confidence in what I’d sent out.
  • A lot of applications for jobs advertised on the internet seemed to disappear into the ether. I’m not convinced that all the jobs advertised actually existed.
  • Can’t prove it, but I’m sure age discrimination is alive and well. Doesn’t take much to work out an applicant’s age even if you don’t put your date of birth on your CV.
  • Never underestimate your qualifications and experience in terms of life as a whole. My selling points for my new employers were not just my career history, but also my experience in helping my wife set up her business, and the fact that I’d gone out and done something like the roadie job rather than sit at home.
  • Unemployment/underemployment gets increasingly stressful as time goes on. Even working for the IFA with a salary that some would kill for, it was simply demoralising to think about the lifestyle we had and to wonder if we’d ever get it back. Even the most understanding of families will start to fall apart eventually.

I consider myself to have been very lucky. The family didn’t fall apart, and because we had been reasonably sensible financially in the past, we have been able to clear the mortgage and to pay off the loans we took out to buy my wife’s business. And still got some savings left. Not everyone has this amount of good fortune.

I don’t know if any of the above ramble is of interest or of any potential use. If you want to ask me anything or if you want me to try to put together something more usable for the website please get back to me. Or if you want to use any of the above as it stands feel free. But in the meantime good luck, especially with highlighting the underemployment issue. 


6th April 2010

Hi Steve,

Firstly, I hope you are well.

I have recently discovered your website and found it to be very informative.

I am a seven year PQE Solicitor who was made redundant in April 2008.  The recession has destroyed the legal market.  I obtained temporary non-legal work between April 08 and July 09 and then submitted a claim for JSA.  I have encountered nothing but difficulties/errors from DWP employees and my local office failed to send me for a professional consultation. 

My JSA has now been revoked because I didn't attend an interview for an office junior role.  I was not invited for interview and the Charity concerned have provided me with written confirmation of the same.  It is an absolute nightmare and has resulted in me being without money for food for over four weeks.  Another error. A few weeks ago the Manager said that "I should get a job...any job...even sweeping the streets...You have been unemployed six months so you will not find a job in law".  My Agents hold a different view.

Please note this is a brief summary of events.  A journalist from my local newspaper and my local MP have contacted the DWP but they ignore requests.  I have also contacted Yvette Coopers Office and the Cabinet Ministers.  Prisoners receive better treatment and I have no doubt that I would have starved to death without the help of my retired widowed mother (68).  My father passed away in August 09.  My Mother was also diagnosed with cancer in 2008 and I am sure the stress is not aiding her recovery.

This morning I read Dolbert's Diary and I would like the opportunity to write a similar blog.  I feel that my case may help others feel a little better about their own situation.

At the moment I am selling personal belongings to survive. I was forced to leave my rented house as I couldn't afford the rent (£635 per month) and place my belongings in storage (£183 per month).  I am now forced to borrow money from my Mother to pay for my storage - she is retired and this cannot continue indefinitely.  In short, I am being treated like a common criminal through no fault of my own.  I know that my case is not isolated and would like the opportunity to share my difficulties with others.

Yours sincerely

5th April 2010


Being unemployed can be soul destroying, at least that is how George described it. Being made redundant at 46 he felt he was too old to be looking for a new job, working in the Bank lending sector, George saw no recovery in this area of finance for some time to come.

Not a great lover of the daily journey to the city for the last 24 years, he was by his own admission, stuck in doing something he never liked. But now somehow it's worse, not much at all on the jobs front right now, just a little hope that maybe there will be a quick recovery of the economy and maybe the Government can get its act together and the business community wakes up and smells the coffee.

He now saw little future for his children, all on their way to being well educated and now, no jobs for them, the whole system stank.

Bill is 47, worked with George; in fact they shared an office for 20 years. Bill like George saw no quick recovery of the economy when he too was made redundant. After 25 years as a Banker Bill thought "I can offer something out of all I have learned in Banking. If I could find something I could do for myself. I have seen people bottle water and sell it (can you believe that, it is free in every tap at home, office. park. People buy it.) I have seen people pay large phone bills and Skype and many more like it do the same job for free (can you believe it) I have seen people wash carrots and sell them at a premium how simple is that?"

Unemployment made Bill think really think! "I could be my own boss at whatever I choose. I will have choice and lots of help, all I have to do is what that  NIKE  add said, Just Do It. I'll start looking all I need is a good weeks pay. Id  be a fool if I thought that someone else is going to do it for me."

Thinking is the real key to becoming an Entrepreneur, age does not enter into it and you don’t have to earn a million a year. The choice on whether it is healthy (positive) thinking or unhealthy (negative) thinking is up to you and like being happy you can choose to be happy and refuse to be unhappy, all begins with a thought. A building is the thought of an architect, a suit is the thoughts of designer, bread is the thought of the baker. Bear in mind FEAR is not real, you think FEAR. Here is an example.

I fly a lot for business yet Fred has a fear of flying so he will not fly. Both of us would be getting on the same plane at the same time but Fred wont fly, so it cannot be the plane or me as I get on the plane, Fred thinks it's Fear; it’s not real. 

Unemployed get thinking.

Keep an eye out for more on the thinking subject



Hi Steve,

I strongly suspect I am not alone in this situation however I would like to take a few lines to explain and perhaps draw on the experience of others who may be in a similar situation.

I am 56 and last March I was made redundant by a company who had been hard hit by the recession. I had held several senior management posts (up to Director level) with previous employers.

Due to my own arrogance / pride / stupidity (choose the appropriate one) I did not 'sign on' immediately as I thought that (a) I would not be entitled to any benefits (having followed Mr. Brown's advice and been prudent and saved) and (b) that the local Jobcentre would probably not be much help.

When eventually I did visit the Jobcentre I was told that I could not claim jobseekers allowance because (a) I had too much in savings and (b) even if I hadn't because I delayed my signing on for some 9 months my 'stamp' was now in arrears and was not entitled. 

It is now approaching 12 months out of work and despite applying for some 400 + roles I am either told that (a) you have too much experience for this role (i.e. you are too old) or that "other candidates have a closer match to our requirements", either may well be true but that doesn't make it any easier to bear.

Not only have I applied for jobs within my experience (technical / engineering sales) but I have also tried for jobs that typically would be advertised in the jobcentre or the local papers again without success.

To date I have found government agencies e.g. the Jobcentre to be a complete waste of time. Once they find out you are not claiming, or entitled to claim benefits they are not the slightest bit interested in you as finding you a job would not impact on 'the jobless figures' and as such they would presumably receive no recognition from their paymasters. 

It would be interesting to find out how many of us 'invisible unemployed' there are. In the main they probably consist of people like me who have worked hard for the majority of their lives, held responsible positions, have savings, paid our taxes and have never relied on the state for any handouts. 

What a mistake that has turned out to be. In my own small town in the North East I know of people who do not work and have no intention of doing so. They know all the wrinkles and how to get money for doing nothing either by claiming they are ill or, for the younger ones breeding children with no visible means of supporting them.

Having finished my rant my question is this. Are there any organisations, clubs, self help groups etc. in the North East where people like me can go or just get together to see what we can do to get work?