Is Job Seeking Good for the Soul?

Last month the Bishop of London suggested redundancy isn’t always a bad thing, and that it could in fact be good for the soul. He argued that the ‘crackberry culture’ of people in the City was unhealthy and that getting off the treadmill could be good for them in the long run.

His comments didn’t go down well with everyone. I’m not sure if he really deserved all the flack he got – I can kind of see the point he was trying to make. He said, for example, that at these times in their lives people get the chance to change direction or ‘reboot’ and decide what life is all about. On the other hand, coming from somebody like the Bishop, obviously in a secure job and with plenty to eat, these statements can seem a bit blunt and unhelpful.

Struggling to feed your family and losing your home is hardly good for the soul. And after reading your comments on my Jobseeker’s Allowance challenge (thanks very much for them, by the way), and hearing your harrowing stories about unemployment, nobody could argue that poverty is ennobling. Going without something you can actually afford is one thing, but not having any choice is entirely another.

Jobseekers aren’t serene, as the Bishop’s comments might suggest. They don’t sit about pondering the meaning of life. They’re broke and they can’t relax. They can’t sleep for the worry and all they can think about is how they’ll struggle through the next week. My friend phoned me yesterday, concerned because she hasn’t heard back about a job interview she’s been on. Really she needs to take a week off to recover from the shock of losing her job, but she can’t afford to let things slip and she can’t relax until she’s got work. She’s concerned that if she’s out of her industry for too long, she won’t get another job in it and the stigma of being long term unemployed will stick. The Jobseeker’s Allowance will pay for her week’s shopping but that’s it. Luckily her partner is still in work.

As for me, I’ve examined my budget and realised that, without DJ’s support, we would lose the house. I couldn’t pay the council tax either, he would have to pay that too, and Jobseeker’s barely covers the energy, phone and TV licence. After that we have about £20 a week for food and nothing put aside if anything goes wrong, like a flat tyre or a bust boiler. The feeling that DJ has to pay for everything else isn’t good, either. I don’t like relying on others.

As you warned me, I can’t go out, unless it’s to a local friend’s house for a coffee or for a walk. Friends had asked me to meet them in London but I can’t. It costs £10 to travel into London, and it’s easy to spend at least £30 – half the weekly Jobseeker’s Allowance – on a night out. Of course, unlike a real Jobseeker, I’m not forced to spend money on travelling to job interviews, getting an interview suit or on posting job applications. Nor am I having to endure the humiliating Job Centre interviews some of you have told me about.

But your experiences and those of my friends lately have reminded me of how I felt when I was made redundant nine years ago. Not only does it hit your pocket, but it hits your self-esteem. You can’t help but feel down. Even though the job cuts may not be personal, it feels that way.

I’m not complaining – far from it. It’s just that it’s dawned on me how close we all are to serious money problems. It’s easy to look at somebody on benefits and think less of them. But through no fault of our own, any of us could end up in their shoes – especially in this economic climate.

How have you coped with the psychological issues of redundancy? Is it still the stigma that it used to be?

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13 Responses to Is Job Seeking Good for the Soul?

  1. Nicky says:

    I don\’t think there is a stigma attached to redundancy, but I do not think job hunting is good for the soul, I think it is tiring stressful and disappointing! The relief of getting one is replaced by the fear of losing it! Recently my work has forced us all to cut down to 4 days a week as a way of saving money and prevent redundancy, I am lucky as I have no mortgage and minimal rent to pay (my husband and I are living with parents whilst saving for a deposit), but plenty of people there are worried about paying their mortgage. It\’s a scary time to live in!

  2. Christine says:

    The worst part of losing a job and not being able to pay the mortgage is that you get no help to find other accommodation unless you have children – and not always then. Of course you then have a record as a bad payer and private landlords will not want you – you know how often you see "No DSS" on rental adverts.

  3. Jamie says:

    Ah men to that post! I think you hit the nail on the head about how its far from being good on the soul. I swear i am a hop skip and jump away from depression.

  4. Mark says:

    After working as a Software Engineer for twelve years, I\’ll soon be joining the masses of unemployed. :(My employer, a high-profile mobile manufacturer, have decided to close their Manchester Office, leaving many good people out of work. At a time when the jobs market looks terrible, when IT companies are shelving their staff all over the country — all over the world, I\’m up for some fierce competition.But… despite the fear and the gloom, and despite the battering my self-esteem will take, I will be as upbeat about life as possible. I\’ll get up early each day, go for a jog, check my emails and apply for jobs. I\’ll spend some time keeping my skills alive and then I\’ll do the things I didn\’t have time for. I\’ll compose music (my real passion) and I\’ll read more books. I\’ll learn a language. And maybe, I\’ll write some stories.There\’s no denying it\’s going to be hard. There\’s no denying I\’ll have moments of panic over how I\’ll pay the rent and the bills. However, I\’ll make the best use of my time as possible!!! So perhaps…. just perhaps…. depending on your viewpoint…depending on my viewpoint… this could actually be good for my soul….

  5. barbs says:

    Hi Mark et al Its really great that you\’re so positive and I certainly don\’t want to rain on yor parade but it is tough out there. If you\’re single you\’ll be entitled to £60.50 per week job seekers. (£94 if a couple). The weather\’s getting better so heating costs wont be at their highest. If you\’re lucky enough to have savings thats great – but you might lose out on some help and end up having to spend them.We sold our home last March but did not get enough to cover all our debts. We rented a small house off my brother in law. (shorthold tenancy agreement) we managed to stay as positive as we could and as we have a really strong relationship we didnt have any added pressure there, even so I eventually had a breakdown when my husband lost his job in October and we had to survive on £94 per week (we didnt actually receive any payment until the beginning of January 09) he was out of work until 26th Jan when he managed to find a job 3 hrs from home. He received 1 weeks pay only in Feb and is due his first full months money this friday. We got no state help to get him to his new job or up front accomodation or food costs and had to borrow from family which has to be repaid from his first proper pay. We cannot get any housing benefit because my brother in law said he wouldnt kick us out or take legal action against us for being unable to pay the rent so apparantly we dont have a commercial based tenancy agreement. We are now over £4000 in rent arrears on top of our other debts. We cant afford to go bankrupt and if one of our creditors does us the favour of making us bankrupt my husband will lose his job because of the type of work he\’s in.Is this good for my soul? I\’ll let you decide.

  6. barbs says:

    PS – His jobseekers finished the day before he started work (25th Jan) so since then we\’ve had to pay everything out of £60.50 per week single persons allowance.

  7. Jane says:

    It happened to me in 2003 and not only have I never recovered emotionally I havent recovered financially – having to take a drop in my income which has never kept up with inflation. It really is a devasting experience and unless it has happened to you you have no idea what its like. I had to sell my house and downgrade and with the current economic climate and jobs going all the time I feel that I am still under that threat as I work in the property industry. Its an absolutely dreadful experience believe me.

  8. karon says:

    hi i was made redundant in december and have ben out of work now for 3 whole months .And its driving me insaine i get 60.50money per week 121 a fourtnight and i have a mortgage and siblings to tke care of. the money i get doesent cover my ammenties food and at this moment in time me and my daughter are sat with no gas on as i dont have any money for the meter .which ma i add had to have put in to pay back debit tht i had gotten into with them in the space of a few months .this goverment clearly does not look after its workers ive nevr been out of work since my 2 children were babies and thats a long time ago ,i do want to work and do go to interviews and do look for work every way i can but there clearly is not enough jobs out there for everyone .i think the goverment shud get off there arse and do something about this instead of thinking about neuclar war heads and how much ther going to spend on our submarines tTHIS COUNTRY REALLY STINKS .

  9. DUNCAN says:

    i now realise how bad things are in the employment race after having my own pub for years the recession, smoking ban, high rents and stupidly high beer prices me and my family (wife & two kids) had to leave which meant losing our home and income so not only were we treated like lepers at the housing but like this at the job centre.we now have been rehoused in private housing and have been made bankrupt and all this within six months!and to top it all i have no experience in any other industry and when i asked about possible retraining for something alse all i got was "we dont do anything like that and if you go to college you have to fund it yourself".now call me a sillylittle man but isnt the job centre supposed to help you back into work?all i ask (and i bet i\’m not the only one) is to retrain in another industry to find work, not much to ask is it?try asking at your local jobcentre and see if the person behind the counter has a heart attack like the one i asked!!!!duncan.

  10. sharon says:

    Having worked for Woolies since leaving school, and working up to a manager level, never in a million years did I expect to be made redundant. At the moment, I have been actively seeking employment for 1o weeks. However, in a recession, there are more shops closing than there are opening, and the vacancies that do arise are minimal. This said, when they do come up, every man and his dog are applying for them. Employers are having a field day – they can have somewhere near 200 people apply for jobs, and get to pick the cream of the crop. However, those that aren\’t lucky enough don\’t even get told they are unfortunate not to get a job – the no response method seems to be the reply now. I have applied for nearly 90 jobs, with maybe only 5 responses – demoralising, and degrading. I feel that there is no support out there for people who don\’t get a say in what happens – I didn\’t have a choice in being made redundant, as I\’m sure many people don\’t – but there are others out there who take advantage of the situations. Living on £60 a week is not realistic. You still have bills to pay, food to buy, job centres to travel to, never mind all the speculative phone calls that you make. I\’m fortunate that my partner works, but his pays only just covers the mortgage and house bills, and even then his company are suffering too and he has had to take a pay cut. But there is no help, no encouragement, no support. Families are great in times of need, but how great do you feel having to tell parents / siblings that again this week you need to borrow money – of which there is no way of saying when you\’ll pay it back……

  11. Richard says:

    i to have just been made redundent from a job it took me about three years to get as a service advisor for VW. now ive tried to claim jsa but thay told me that i was not intitied to anythhing because my girlfriend is in fulltime employment well she works 28 hours a week hardly fulltime when i asked about what i could claim for i was told that thay had no time available to talk to me. is it just me or do the people at the centre need to have someone there how actully nows what there talking about and can advise people like my self what to do. as for the way you get treated when your at the job centre its like the people there cant be botherd to help you at all its like thay are the just there to make up the numbers.

  12. Dot says:

    Jobcentres are usless – they arent JOB centres at all. They dont offer help and all seem pretty arrogant because they have jobs and we are just unemployed numbers. Try ringing the 0845 number they give you for enquiries, then give all your details, then told someone will ring you back – they dont. So you just keep repeating the whole procedure till someone does…. thats how much help you get! Zero.

  13. mike says:

    gordan brown has brought this country to its knees, when he was chanceller he cocked it up and now we have to work longer to get a pension and if your lucky you\’ll live long enough to enjoy it.when blair stood down it should go to the people of this country to say who they want to take over and not a bunch of bent mp\’s who claim taxpayers money in expences to have family members homes done up.there are people in prison that should\’nt be there, and there are people running this country that should be.

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