With the number of unemployed people expected to rise when the furlough scheme ends in October, Premier Christian News spoke to Christians Against Poverty, the debt charity, about how to respond.
The Office for National Statistics says 650,000 less people are on the UK payroll compared to March. The number of hours worked in the UK has continued to fall, reaching record lows and vacancies in the UK in April to June 2020 are at the lowest level since the Vacancy Survey began in 2001, at an estimated 333,000.
The unemployment figure has not changed much, but many people are still technically employed by their company even if they are not working while on the furlough scheme. That, however, ends in October. There are some Government incentives to keep staff on but a rise in unemployment is expected.
Christians Against Poverty's Emma Jackson is the head of job clubs at the charity, helping people find work again. She spoke to Premier:
Premier: Does it feel daunting to you, the prospect of unemployment becoming so high?
Emma Jackson: Yeah, I think the figures that we see about the rise in unemployment are stark. One of the consequences of Covid-19 is people have lost their jobs and I think sadly, as furlough schemes come to an end, more people are going to lose their jobs. We've seen certain industries really hit hard by unemployment - things like retail, hospitality, the service industries, and many folks are facing unemployment for the very first time in their lives, people who thought that they had a secure job for life are now facing the prospect of unemployment. So, the statistics are very stark and they're really concerning.
Premier: What advice are CAP giving people at the moment?
Emma: It can feel like a huge shock to find yourself become unemployed, sort of a real catastrophe, it can almost feel like that in that moment, especially when you think you perhaps had a job for life. What we want to reassure people out there is that there is help available as people begin to think about a journey back to employment and we would just encourage people to seek that help. There's loads of good local help and support from government organisations like your local Job Center Plus and the careers advice service, and there are loads of good bits and pieces of information online that that can people can access.
But there are also loads of great charities and organisations like ourselves, who are doing some really practical stuff to help people get back to work. At Christians Against Poverty, we have a network of just over 100 job clubs across the United Kingdom that provide very holistic, person-centered support to help people journey back to employment. It's been a challenge with our job clubs during Covid because of the restrictions that we've had on being able to meet face to face, but lots of our job clubs have been delivering online support, online coaching, helping people to build CVs and prepare for interviews. So people can check out our website, capuk.org, type in their postcode, and see if there's a job club near them. And as I say, if there isn't a cap job club near them, then begin to search for things like local Job Centres, careers advice, and start to engage with the sort of statutory government support that's out there.
Premier: How as Christians can we deal with unemployment and face it with faith?
Emma: Yeah, having a job can be such a big part of our identity can't it? We can seek a lot of our identity and our purpose in what we do and if that changes or comes to an end it can kind of create some real soul searching for folks. We know that people report when they lose their job that they feel a huge loss of confidence, a huge loss of self-esteem and just that sort of sense of lack of purpose. First and foremost, we would remind people of faith to know that our identity is found in Jesus and our great hope is in him. We love to remind people who are out of work about the God-given gifts and skills and talents that they have and that sometimes moving out of one sector or one job and into another requires that 'pause' moment to reflect on the strengths, the skills and abilities that you have and how you can then use them in a different situation. As Christians, we must never be afraid to ask for help, particularly during a situation like finding yourself unemployed. Who could you ask for help in that situation, either at your local church or other support areas? Are there organisations in your area to help you get back to work? Asking for help, not being afraid to step out of that comfort zone and say this is something I need some support with right now is a great first step that Christians can take.
Premier: How can Christians and churches help people they know who are unemployed?
Emma: We truly believe that the local church really is the hope that society needs and we just long to see the local church stepping in and supporting those in most need in our communities. One of the things as a charity that we are launching next week is something called Kick Start. It's a completely free resource for local churches that's made up of nine video sessions that local churches can deliver through online video conferencing platforms. The sessions include things like discovering your strengths, writing a CV and developing your interview skills. So this is a wonderful tool that the local church could pick up and deliver in their community to serve both church members or people in their wider community who are struggling with unemployment.