I’ve Been Unemployed This Entire Pandemic. I’m Terrified About A Second Wave Would Mean - Rugby and Daventry Radio Station Midlands UK            

I’ve Been Unemployed This Entire Pandemic. I’m Terrified About A Second Wave Would Mean

Written by on September 23, 2020

Article Published on Wednesday September 23, 2020 6:00 AM by


I’ve Been Unemployed This Entire Pandemic. I’m Terrified About A Second Wave Would Mean


After six of the most rewarding months of my life, I came out of my journalism diploma in February feeling optimistic about 2020. I even had an interview with a local newsroom lined up.

But when the government announced national lockdown restrictions back on 23 March, I remember myself on the phone to my boyfriend, crying. “How am I going to get a job now?” I never heard back from the newsroom, and all my other job applications were put on hold.

Unlike so many others, I was lucky enough to be able to move home and not fall into debt, but the worry of my employment status and what it means for me long-term has been a constant weight on my mind for seven months now.

At the beginning of lockdown, my news feed was filled with stories of people complaining about being on furlough, and my instinctive reaction to this was one of anger. How could people possibly complain about getting paid to do nothing?

Inside, I knew not everyone was fortunate enough to have the comfortable – or even safe – home life I had. And I understood too that while they were at least employed, there would be thousands worried about their finances and whether they would have a job to go back to. But, to me, they were worrying about something that hadn’t happened yet – I was already unemployed, and suddenly my chances of finding employment were reduced significantly.

Relying on my family and partner to get me through has been difficult, but the hardest part of being jobless is not having a purpose. It’s difficult to feel helpful when you’re the one that needs help.

I’ve been ignored and rejected, and given false hopes by some companies. I’ve applied for local key-worker jobs, including supermarket and temporary retail roles, and was rejected by all of them.

In the heat of summer my mood swings were intense. I would pick up a book, an activity I usually found solace in, but after five pages I would begin to feel restless, angry even. Not sure where these feelings were coming from, I would put the book down and feel an overwhelming sensation that everything in my life was pointless. That was my lowest point.

I went through a period where I kept crying and feeling anxious. I constantly felt like I had to apply for jobs, any other activity was taking me away from the prospect of being employed. I had a nagging feeling that it was my fault I was out of work. I’ve been ignored and rejected, and given false hopes by some companies. I’ve applied for local key-worker jobs, including supermarket and temporary retail roles, and was rejected by all of them. I attempted to get local work at a Worcestershire food production farm, but I was told that because of the local outbreaks they were no longer hiring agency staff.

These collective experiences increased my levels of despondency enormously. I have been unemployed before, but the difference during this time is the uncertainty, competitiveness of jobs, and feeling like I have very little control over my situation.

I often feel embarrassed about my situation. I’m 26 now, and assumed at the beginning of the year that by now I would have bagged my first journalism job and be living in my own rented accommodation. Instead I’m back with my parents wondering if anyone is ever going to hire me. More than anything I worry about how much this will set my career back.

When September rolled around I started to shift my perspective on finding work. Previously I was only applying for jobs in the traditional way of filling out endless applications. But now I’m seeking freelance opportunities and networking in the hope that I will have more success in finding work that way, something I never would have considered had it not been for my experiences during lockdown.

While there is government support for those struggling with finances, there doesn’t seem to be any real help in getting the unemployed back into work.

But still, the end of the government’s furlough scheme in November is a huge concern for me, and will be for others too. Unemployment numbers are undoubtedly going to grow, and there is no employment fast-lane for those of us already out of work – at least not one that I’m aware of. We are all bundled and labeled together as an ever-growing blurry mass of unemployed people.

If I don’t find work soon, I will have an even tougher battle ahead of me. I will be fighting for opportunities alongside people who want to change jobs or have only just been handed their redundancy notice – people who don’t have seven months of unemployment to their name.   

I blame the government’s handling of the situation. The thought of a second national lockdown terrifies me; I understand the importance of trying to contain the spread of the virus, but it would make a bad situation worse for unemployed people like me, and leave us feeling even less in control over our lives than before. And that’s not to say how I would struggle emotionally with another lockdown.

While there is government support for those struggling with finances, there doesn’t seem to be any real help in getting the unemployed back into work. That’s left me feeling abandoned and unsupported. I wish that when I apply for work that I actually have a chance. So far my experiences of rejection and u-turns have communicated otherwise. Perhaps there should be a job-matching scheme in place for those that have been out of work for more than a certain period of time?

More than anything I wanted to write this article so that those who have been unemployed since before lockdown don’t feel alone in their struggle, or like they’re invisible. This is something that I have felt. And it’s why I sincerely hope the government urgently helps the unemployed get back into work – particularly those of us who were caught out from the beginning.

Emma Gibbs is a freelance journalist. Follow her on Twitter at @GibbsGibbs9

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