My last official working day was 21.5.2014. Unemployment was not a lifestyle choice but it sure was an experience, mainly of a hideous bureaucratic nature that I don’t wish to have to repeat ever again.
You soon become seen by the DWP as not just a ‘claimant’ but as a non-person, another benefit bum.
The Poor Law act introduced the idea of the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving poor’, this remains and has been a continuous stable feature of the welfare system. Firstly you demonise the poor and then you divide them, those that are down on their luck and those that just can’t be arsed. Whilst all the time within wider society ensuring that they are all benefit scoundrels and cheats. One homogenous group ready to be scorned, blamed, and used as scapegoats.
I did not choose to become unemployed, my fixed term contract ended and despite actively looking for work and attending interviews, nothing had my name on it. I signed on because I have to feed my family.
I can honestly say the job centre did fuck all in actually helping me, instead they made me do weekly sign on’s… you meet some interesting people while you’re waiting and you hear their stories. I have seen people walk out in tears and I have seen people lose their cool. For all you civil servants out there, you really shouldn’t be surprised. I suggest you think about how you treat people – people being the operative word. My worst experience totalled an hour and half wait with the scantest, muttered apology. You have little choice if you don’t sit it out, if you don’t sign, you don’t get your money. By the way don’t forget to be grateful for the £72 per week JSA, which of course will feed 4 mouths and pay your travel to interview,
I was technically only unemployed for four months, it felt a lot longer. I gave up counting the number of job applications, CV’s & covering letters I wrote and the number of interviews and second interviews I had, only to be told I didn’t get the job, it is a soul destroying treadmill.
But then as I was sat waiting to be called to see my advisor, a pasty ill looking man with long manicured fingernails, I picked up a flyer about NEA New Enterprise Allowance and thought that’s the answer – I will work for myself, time to stop thinking about it and bloody well do it. So I have.
Bev’s Bakes is now in business, I have:
• completed the Enterprise course
• passed the Btech modules,
• registered my kitchen
• been inspected by Environmental Health – I got a 5 star rating
• written my HACCP
• got insurance
• registered with HMRC as a Soletrader

I am now baking traditional home baked cakes for a living. I am my own boss. I have some regular customers and orders as well as an order book waiting to be baked. My little blackboard signs and 5 start rating sticker are proudly on display in my kitchen windows.
I have dreamed the dream of working for myself for a very long time, and for those that know me well, know that I have a plan and café name in the waiting. But in the here and now I have started something and that feels pretty damn good; the hard work starts now – building up my business.
It always amazes me how things happen, how circumstances in time bring us opportunities. Sometimes we see them and sometimes we grab them and ride the wave; not knowing where the wave will take us. The challenge is to trust the wave, because you are trusting your own judgement that made you grab the wave. You are trusting yourself, and you are the best person you can possibly invest in.
I am riding the wave.


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