UK’s Covid unemployed: ‘Financial insecurity drives stress and anxiety’

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The Guardian spoke to people who have been made unemployed due to Covid and their experiences of trying to find work.

The performing arts project manager

‘There’s been nothing’

In Leicester, Martin Bailey, who has 35 years experience and worked as a project manager in the performing arts sector until October, said his “mental health has suffered” from being out of work. “There’s been nothing,” said the 57-year-old. “All live events and festivals have been cancelled, so there’s just no work.

“I’ve had to borrow money but now that’s running out. I’m even thinking of moving out of my house and doing a bit of sofa surfing, which isn’t something I want to do at my age.”

Bailey has been applying for jobs but says they are all “oversubscribed”. He adds: “I know from processing job applications myself that when I put my age in, being over 55 puts you pretty low down on the priority list.”

He thinks the future of the performing arts in the UK will be a “struggle” and doesn’t think the government supports the arts enough. “It’s going to be much diminished and it’s got worse with Brexit,” he said. “There’s a lot of investment going into German theatres while they’re closed, to do repairs, renovations and upgrades financed by the government. We don’t get anything really here.

“We have a different approach to culture and the arts – we like to celebrate how special it is here but in reality we don’t value it or the people that create it.”

The graduate

‘Sometimes I feel a sense of hopelessness’

Joe Bailey
Joe Bailey, who has graduated with a £50,000 debt

“Financial insecurity is a major driver of stress and anxiety,” said the 24-year-old graduate Joe Bailey from Cheshire. “I now have around £50,000 debt from university but my qualifications don’t seem to be able to secure much advantage.”

Bailey graduated with a master’s in geopolitics from Royal Holloway, University of London last year. He volunteers with the Labour party and hopes to work in politics. “The applications themselves are fairly long and it can be quite frustrating as it’s very rare that you’ll get any feedback. You feel quite good when you apply, but when you don’t get a response you don’t know what you’ve done wrong.

He has applied for around 100 jobs, many of which are in London. But, he says: “Most of the roles in politics are unpaid or part-time, and it’s impossible for me to live in the city on a three-day wage. There are a few union jobs that are regional and closer to home, but other than that there’s not really anything here.

“Sometimes I feel like the hard work I did at university is somewhat redundant and I’m left feeling a sense of hopelessness.”

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: UK’s Covid unemployed: ‘Financial insecurity drives stress and anxiety’

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