Young people 'feel they have nothing to live for'
September 9, 2014 5:37 AM   Subscribe

As many as three quarters of a million young people in the UK may feel that they have nothing to live for, a study for the Prince's Trust charity claims. The trust says almost a third of long-term unemployed young people have contemplated taking their own lives. Urgent action must be taken to prevent the young jobless becoming the young hopeless, it says. The government commented that it was doing "everything possible" to help young people find work. [via BBC]
posted by marienbad (46 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
The government is doing "everything possible" to reduce the benefits bill and demonise the poor and disabled. Whether you want to spin that as "helping young people find work" is a matter of political ideology.
posted by pipeski at 6:09 AM on September 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


No future
posted by octobersurprise at 6:15 AM on September 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Long-term unemployment is soul-destroying and strips the individual of dignity. There are many things a government can do to lighten the threat of becoming so, but I fear that this government either does not know what to do or will not do it. Solving the systemic problems of poor education and uneven economic development are not on this government's agenda.
posted by Thing at 6:26 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


And don't forget ongoing cuts to already overburdened mental health services, so those young people seeking help rarely find it. Instead they are bullied, abused and shunted from pillar to post and called lazy scroungers when they can't put up with it.

Fuck this government and what they are doing to this country. We deserve better.
posted by fight or flight at 6:27 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Here in Tokyo just the other day two schoolgirls (11 and 12 years old) took their own lives, together, by jumping from an apartment building.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:29 AM on September 9, 2014


This is certainly a sad story, and indicative of the times we live. That said I can't help but laugh at this idea that a Tory government is doing everything possible to help young people find work. Next you'll tell us you love the plebes, Tories!
posted by symbioid at 6:30 AM on September 9, 2014


Let's not overlook the fact that the Conservatives have promised to scrap the Human Rights Act after the next election.
posted by fight or flight at 6:30 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


I very much look forward to the possibility of moving to an independent and left-wing Scotland.
posted by jaduncan at 6:34 AM on September 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


I'm in work, have a PhD in a STEM subject, etc. etc. and I feel like this. No matter how hard you work (I haven't taken a weeks holiday in more than two years) there is no real prospect of escape unless you fully opt out of society. If I remain part of mainstream UK society, I will be working, moving house, working, moving house, working, paying tax, working, going cycling at the weekend, working, moving house, year after year until I'm 70.
posted by liliillliil at 6:43 AM on September 9, 2014 [13 favorites]


jaduncan: "I very much look forward to the possibility of moving to an independent and left-wing Scotland."

I'm an American, and my family came from Scotland long ago (Scots-Irish, so you know the whole English forcing them to N. Ireland bit, then to the US)... But when I hear about what Scotland is doing, when I hear the general political mood in Scotland politically in terms of what it's about (left-wing), I can't help but want to be a part of it. I don't think I could ever do that, but if I lived in England, I know that concept would very much be appealing right now.

And they wonder why Scotland wants to become independent...
posted by symbioid at 6:43 AM on September 9, 2014 [4 favorites]


We're giving job creators as much money as possible but the jobs still aren't coming. Obviously the logical answer is that we aren't giving them enough.
posted by rocket88 at 6:44 AM on September 9, 2014 [15 favorites]


From an article I saw this morning about the death of David Clapson:
The coroner said that when David Clapson died he had no food in his stomach. Clapson’s benefits had been stopped as a result of missing one meeting at the jobcentre. He was diabetic, and without the £71.70 a week from his jobseeker’s allowance he couldn’t afford to eat or put credit on his electricity card to keep the fridge where he kept his insulin working. Three weeks later Clapson died from diabetic ketoacidosis, caused by a severe lack of insulin. A pile of CVs was found next to his body.

I’ll resist calling Clapson’s death a tragedy. Tragedy suggests a one-off incident, a rarity that couldn’t be prevented. What was done to Clapson – and it was done, not something that simply happened – is a particularly horrific example of what has, almost silently, turned into a widespread crisis. More than a million people in this country have had their benefits stopped over the past year. Sanctions against chronically ill and disabled people have risen by 580% in a year. This is a system out of control.
Clapson wasn't a teenager -- he was 59 when he died -- but this is the reality thousands of people, young and old, are facing when they run up against what the government means when it says it is doing "everything possible".
posted by fight or flight at 6:49 AM on September 9, 2014 [41 favorites]


[Just as a note, the Scottish independence thread is over here, and it would be better not to make this thread into a discussion of that same issue. Thanks .]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:53 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Anyone care to explain why the Tories remain in power when they seem to be doing such an awful job of things?
posted by leotrotsky at 6:58 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


> If I remain part of mainstream UK society, I will be working, moving house, working, moving house, working, paying tax, working, going cycling at the weekend, working, moving house, year after year until I'm 70.

I remember the grind it becomes back from when I was employed, so I do sympathize... but frankly, that sounds like a beautiful and impossible dream to me and many others, these days.
posted by gilrain at 7:04 AM on September 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


I don't think the David Clapson matter is directly relevant. That the government treats those on welfare as unworthy is terrible, but the problem is that people are beginning their working lives on welfare. Clapson ended up where he was due to illness and the system then failed him. Young people are being failed from scratch.

Anyone care to explain why the Tories remain in power when they seem to be doing such an awful job of things?

My opinion is that the political landscape of England is fragmented and fragmenting. I don't think people actually want this government, but they don't want any other on offer. People may not even know what they want. It feels very fin de siècle. Everything seems very worn out and waiting for tomorrow.
posted by Thing at 7:07 AM on September 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Unemployment is soul-destroying. I know where they are coming from, and I wish there was some way to change the culture. Not just the economic system that causes this (and I believe this is a systematic issue), and not just the lack of mental health services, but always what our culture(s) think of unemployment. I've talked about my unemployment on the blue before, and it the story is the same as many here.

I just completed a roughly four month period of unemployment, I start my new job tomorrow. I graduated with a Master's degree this past May, and it was something I pursued (and a debt I knowingly took on) because I felt it was the only way I could get out of the career rut I had found myself in. Before grad school, I had been working a job I hated, in a field I knew I hated, for a year and a half. I only took that job because after nine months of unemployment I needed to make rent. I was only unemployed before that because our economy was fucked and the place I was working lost funding. While I was employed in a field I hated, I continued to apply for the jobs I wanted, and found that not only was I being pigeonholed, the longer I worked in the field the more I was being pigeonholed. Thus, I decided that I needed to do something major to make that career shift.

All of this is to say that I am familiar with the employment market in the US through many different stages of the crash. This most recent period of unemployment, I was coming against the same problems I had pre-grad school. Pigeonholed as only having certain skills, despite having other skills (personally and demonstrably on paper). An incredibly slack labor market that meant every posting had a hundred responses and employers could pick anyone they wanted, say someone with 10+ years of doing the exact same thing. I did not have the level of experience to get the jobs that I could otherwise do ("experience" being code for "we don't have to train you"), but at the same time I was told I was too experienced, "overqualified", for jobs that could get me to where I wanted to be. I was more than happy to work at jobs that we "under" me, I was more than willing to show my gumption and drive, to work my way up, to pay my dues, or whatever other phrase I needed to say. But no one believed me (even though I was being truthful).

I'm in the DC area, and met with professionals in my field, as you're supposed to. I networked to the best of my (limited) abilities and was constantly told that I was doing everything right, and getting a job in this town is mostly a matter of knowing the right person and luck. Getting the job I start tomorrow was luck.

Why didn't I choose a more lucrative field? Well, it's not that I'm chasing my dream, it's just that I didn't want to be miserable going to work every day. That's it. I'm not defining myself or my happiness by a job, I have hobbies and friends, and that's good enough for me.

I'm a cis-white guy with an advanced degree in a relevant field in my area, an area with higher than average employment (especially for my demographic). After being unemployed for four months, I was dreading the next five. Being unemployed for nine months destroyed me, mentally, physically, and spiritually. It took me two years or so to rebuild myself as a person, to even think of myself as a person. In the meantime, since I had employment and thus insurance (because the US system is fucked), I was able to finally get therapy and eventually much-needed medication. But being unemployed, living in a racist state that chose not to extend Medicaid, and no longer being a student (with terrible student's insurance) meant that I am starting to lose access to the mental health services I need. And while my new insurance will eventually start, in the meantime I'm completely out-of-pocket and basically up a creek.

At least in the UK insurance isn't completely tangled into employment. It's getting a little better here in the US, but that really depends on if you're living in a GOP-run state or not. Cultural expectations of unemployment are fucked up. I was doing "all the right things" and still couldn't get a job to save my life. Or at least the jobs I could have maybe gotten would have made me miserable and more miserable until I could not stand it. And the longer I worked at those jobs the harder it would have been to get one that didn't make me unhappy every day. Even if I knew better intellectually, I couldn't help but feel worthless. To feel like it was all my fault. To feel like I was not worth the love and support of family and friends. Even on the cusp of starting a new job, it's still hard not to feel that way. From my studies, I know that a great deal of my situation are due to circumstances way out of my control, and much more due to the faults of the rich fucks that tanked the economy. That I will suffer for it my entire life in terms of wages.

I live in constant fear of being unemployed. I know that I can't go through nine months of hell again, and I am sometimes scared of what that means when I parse that statement. I am working on getting the help I need, I have a loving family and support network which makes me luckier than so many people. And I still live in terror of what the future holds for me. To say nothing of my desire to build a life and family.
posted by X-Himy at 7:09 AM on September 9, 2014 [12 favorites]


And what can be done to change this? In the US (and the UK though I am less familiar with that context), we need to stop the lionization of the rich. Frankly, if you're rich you should be a suspect. You probably did something wrong to get all that money. We need a massive redistribution, we need to rebuild our safety nets, rebuild the safety stops that the conservatives have spent the last 70 years dismantling.

It won't happen of course, but it's a nice dream that helps me sleep at night.
posted by X-Himy at 7:12 AM on September 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


> Anyone care to explain why the Tories remain in power when they seem to be doing such an awful job of things?

The short version is to call this "representative democracy" but make sure to include scare quotes. The long version is to say we're watching the iron law of oligarchy in action.

> No matter how hard you work (I haven't taken a weeks holiday in more than two years) there is no real prospect of escape unless you fully opt out of society. If I remain part of mainstream UK society, I will be working, moving house, working, moving house, working, paying tax, working, going cycling at the weekend, working, moving house, year after year until I'm 70.

While you are extremely fortunate to be employed and earning income in today's world, I can see why the pressure feels relatively as soul-crushing as unemployment. The article from this previous thread may be helpful if you didn't see it the first time.
posted by Johann Georg Faust at 7:21 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's tempting to snark on the "doing everything possible" line but instead I'll just say that a lot of people seem to have forgotten one of the fundamental reasons for having social welfare and jobs programs. Namely, people who are starving to death rarely just sit quietly and die. Taking care of the lower classes is the price the wealthy pay for not having open revolt.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 7:31 AM on September 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


They don't pay it of their own volition. We have to take it, always.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 7:46 AM on September 9, 2014 [8 favorites]


Why has this thread devolved into threats against the wealthy? The problem is not their money but the policies they can buy with it. Holding politicians to account is the key.
posted by Thing at 7:53 AM on September 9, 2014


Frank Turner weighs in [SLYT].

That said, last week my sister and one of my brothers and I -- white,American, educated, professionals all -- had a long conversation that mostly boiled down to the system steadily tilting at a steeper and steeper angle, making it hard for regular people just to hang on -- much less to climb.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:54 AM on September 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


We need a massive redistribution, we need to rebuild our safety nets....

From the article: "Thousands wake up every day believing that life isn't worth living, after struggling for years in the dole queue."

Clearly there's more to it than you suggest.
posted by IndigoJones at 8:15 AM on September 9, 2014


OK - instead of "fuck the rich" howsabout "fuck Boris Johnson, Fuck the Tories, fuck David Cameron and most of all Fuck Maggie Thatcher's maggot-ridden corpse."
posted by symbioid at 8:38 AM on September 9, 2014 [7 favorites]


Why has this thread devolved into threats against the wealthy? The problem is not their money but the policies they can buy with it. Holding politicians to account is the key.

Take away their money and they can't buy politicians, I believe is the theory, although in practice there have been difficulties with that.
posted by spitbull at 8:49 AM on September 9, 2014


If I remain part of mainstream UK society, I will be working, moving house, working, moving house, working, paying tax, working, going cycling at the weekend, working, moving house, year after year until I'm 70.

This sounds like most every job for most everyone. They seem to make it work for them.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:49 AM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I know it's a cliche but isn't this deserving of a "Feature, not a bug" comment?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:18 AM on September 9, 2014


OK - instead of "fuck the rich" howsabout "fuck Boris Johnson, Fuck the Tories, fuck David Cameron and most of all Fuck Maggie Thatcher's maggot-ridden corpse."

Because all those guys made their way in the world by systematically serving the rich and their interests, ensuring that ruling elites hold on to their money and power, and disguising this well-remunerated service from the eyes of the mass of people in various ingenious and opportunist ways.
posted by colie at 9:59 AM on September 9, 2014


Why has this thread devolved into threats against the wealthy? The problem is not their money

Follow money and you find the roots of social problems. Follow politicians and you find... nothing but air really.
posted by colie at 10:01 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Thank heavens the "fuck.................." contingent are not really making the decisions or leading the charge. That kind of rhetoric is about as useful as venting your spleen when the weather is bad or there are tsunamis, hurricanes, floods or earthquakes. Might be better to advocate for increasing the minimum wage, the unionization of service workers, significant changes in the tax structure, a planned and thoughtful redistribution of wealth to the working/working middle class and professionals. Also, one of several economic realities is that there are, and will be, very difficult economic times ahead for Western (post) industrial countries. Capital ( no matter whether one likes it or not) tends to flow to cheaper labor whether with in a country or in the world. The developments in China, Asia and more recently Africa surely means that Western economies will have to substantially reorient themselves--this will take time regardless of the human urgency. My personal opinion ( based on living in both the US and Europe) is that the US desperately needs to strengthen its safety net for the marginally employed/unemployed, fulfill universal access to healthcare and invest heavily in basic public and social infrastructure improvements. The UK would be much better served by radically changing an archaic and class bound secondary and university educational system, devolving some central economic control and forcing economic development outside,the Southeast. Finally, regardless of political correctness and liberal beliefs I think the UK is psychologically, and to some extent, physically burdened with with (too) many immigrants and immigration problems. Whether it is a real drain on the economy or not it certainly is a perceived and experienced burden that makes it very difficult to implement timely changes in social policy and is a continuing distraction to collective and focused change.
posted by rmhsinc at 11:06 AM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Long-term unemployment is soul-destroying and strips the individual of dignity.

In my experience, this is also the case with long-term employment.
posted by goethean at 11:31 AM on September 9, 2014 [5 favorites]


Capital ( no matter whether one likes it or not) tends to flow to cheaper labor whether with in a country or in the world. The developments in China, Asia and more recently Africa surely means that Western economies will have to substantially reorient themselves--this will take time regardless of the human urgency... I think the UK is psychologically, and to some extent, physically burdened with with (too) many immigrants and immigration problems. Whether it is a real drain on the economy or not it certainly is a perceived and experienced burden that makes it very difficult to implement timely changes in social policy and is a continuing distraction to collective and focused change.

In order for the classic First World countries to "reorient themselves"and restore their previous level of prosperity, they simply need to have a LOT fewer people to divide it up among. So a Suicide Epidemic would certainly be Good Economics. (But then, Good Economics IS generally Evil)
posted by oneswellfoop at 11:32 AM on September 9, 2014


oneswellfoop--I have no idea what you said or mean. And you appear to have been quite free with the cut and paste. I was attempting to be serious and yours seem a bit frivolous. or perhaps I am missing something
posted by rmhsinc at 12:40 PM on September 9, 2014


>Long-term unemployment is soul-destroying and strips the individual of dignity.

>In my experience, this is also the case with long-term employment.


All the talk of aid/welfare/taxes etc really misses a crucial point*, I think. The question implied by the article is "what do you have to live for?" which seems to me only partially related to the issues of job and employment. The article, and most of society, blithely accepts that "what do you have to live for?" is answered: "to buy more stuff".




*This is not to say that the current aid/welfare/taxes situation is acceptable, it is not. We have enough resources for everyone to eat and be clothed and to live in houses. We have enough resources to build the flawless fantasy our ancestors dreamed of. We have enough stuff, we just don't have the will, as people, to get that stuff where it needs to be.
posted by DGStieber at 12:48 PM on September 9, 2014 [3 favorites]


Taking care of the lower classes is the price the wealthy pay for not having open revolt.

Not if you can wrangle a tragic, unforeseeable, who-could-have-suspected suicide epidemic. So sad. But, when you really think about it, it's just another manifestation of the moral decay of the lower classes. They just don't value life, you know, with their abortions and drugs and alcohol parties.

Anyone for a crumpet? There's a lovely decanter of Port in the drawing room as well, if you wish.
posted by aramaic at 12:49 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Thousands wake up every day believing that life isn't worth living, after struggling for years in the dole queue.

And the problem is that if unemployment benefits were say 20% higher, then it would be possible to live a much more worthwhile life on the dole queue. As it is, it's an unnecessarily hardscrabble existence.
posted by ambrosen at 12:59 PM on September 9, 2014


IndigoJones: "From the article: "Thousands wake up every day believing that life isn't worth living, after struggling for years in the dole queue."

Clearly there's more to it than you suggest."

Maybe, but the dole (officially known as Job Seekers Allowance) is for a paltry amount that it is a struggle to survive on. It's delivered with a number of often hard to meet conditions that, if they aren't met, results in the claimant being sanctioned. The whole process is demeaning. You are looked on by job centre staff as the lowest of the low, someone who has failed at life. The thought of losing that small amount of money each week for some slight misdemeaner is terrifying (trust me!). Sorry if I've misunderstood your comment.
posted by tnai at 12:59 PM on September 9, 2014


Long-term unemployment is soul-destroying and strips the individual of dignity.

Nah, lack of money is and does. Jobs suck (except when they don't, but that's rare).
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 1:42 PM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: I was attempting to be serious and yours seem a bit frivolous. or perhaps I am missing something
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 2:24 PM on September 9, 2014 [2 favorites]


saw thread title, raised fist in solidarity

anyone got a website they need made?
posted by ghostbikes at 2:52 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


Long-term unemployment is soul-destroying and strips the individual of dignity.

In my experience, this is also the case with long-term employment.


It really is a circle as you suggest. How can a person motivate themselves towards doing things they no longer believe they are capable of? The longer it goes on, the more incapable they feel and the closer they approach to feeling totally worthless. That doesn't describe everyone, but it describes enough. Even people who don't actually need the money can feel this way, though they might also have other reasons that they would not. I wonder how a comparison study would go that actually tied people's feeling of self worth to their employment? Probably badly.
posted by Winnemac at 3:10 PM on September 9, 2014


Yes, it's funny how sense of our self-worth tends toward being more or less like our sense of other peoples' regard for us.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 5:12 PM on September 9, 2014 [1 favorite]


I was wrong to make my previous comment - sorry about that. Trying to crush current pessimistic attitude. Of course my position is, objectively speaking, outrageously good, and I am extraordinarily lucky, I am grateful for what I have.
posted by liliillliil at 6:04 PM on September 9, 2014


A spokesman for the Department for Work and Pension said the government was "doing everything possible" to help young people into work and that there were currently 106,000 fewer young people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance than there were in 2010.

I can't help but suspect that's because they've come up with new and innovative ways to deny people benefits, not because people have work.

When I read articles like this, I think about how I would sometimes lobby to go live with my grandad when I was a kid and my mom would say "You wouldn't like it." But as an adult, it's clear that there's no future for a lot of kids in that town and that's what my mom was saying without saying it.
posted by hoyland at 6:27 PM on September 10, 2014


Anyone care to explain why the Tories remain in power when they seem to be doing such an awful job of things?
I would have thought there's a really easy answer to that: Nick Clegg. But perhaps that is indeed a short-hand way of referring to the 'iron law of oligarchy'.

Thatcher: reviled as she is imo there is a qualitative difference between her and the current crop of tories. She was not a cynic and she had real loyalty to her own idea of nation. (Not arguing that that idea excluded other constituents such as eg the miners.) The current lot have no loyalty to anything but their own pockets, which they speciously disguise by parroting an array of outmoded ideologies. As a diversionary tactic it's proving nifty.

But re Thatcher: at least in the 80s various government schemes did enable social mobility through training schemes, education access and the like. People I knew who were very poor then have done well for themselves since. The same isn't possible today. All those schemes are defunct and as for adult education and so forth, well, it was good while it lasted. As for fewer young people claiming Jobseekers Allowance that is quite a frightening statistic if you allow yourself to worry about what happens to those who have fallen off the grid.

Living on Jobseekers is generally a soul-destroying struggle although there are certain categories of claimant for whom going on benefits will leave them better off than struggling on a low wage: new single parents on Income Support and Housing Benefit will be better off than low-earning couples. I think this is an argument for increasing benefits to the low-waged. It's obvious though that the political will in this country is to decrease wages and workers' rights by as much as they (current gov. + cronies) can get away with.

When the global banking crisis was unspooling in 2009, Nigeria arrested its bankers. The head of the resultant commission of enquiry speculated in public that there seemed to be some kind of OCD compulsion towards accumulating money on display, some fascination for it way beyond what money can actually be used for. She suggested people involved in finance be tested for OCD tendencies. I keep thinking of this as we hear about bigger and bigger profits and bonuses, while apparently governments can't pay their bills and only the poor and the middle class pay tax. Well, well, if the banks and corporations actually have created profit out of nothing, instead of siphoning it away from those who actually created it, perhaps we should be happy to treat them as beneficial magicians whose great wonders we cannot understand.
posted by glasseyes at 8:07 AM on September 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


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