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East Anglia Future 50

Jobseekers tell their stories of hunting for work in Suffolk

PUBLISHED: 15:57 20 September 2018 | UPDATED: 17:43 21 September 2018

Melissa Mehmet showing on her phone an example of her artwork. Picture: Jessica Hill

Melissa Mehmet showing on her phone an example of her artwork. Picture: Jessica Hill


Melissa Mehmet visited Ipswich job fair today looking for a new care worker role, but ended up being inspired to ditch her job to follow her dream of becoming a full time artist.

Nikita Shringe. Picture: Jessica HillNikita Shringe. Picture: Jessica Hill

The 30 year old from Ipswich was frustrated at having never put her artistic talents to good use after graduating from university with a fine art degree, and currently works for a care home.

“I came here today to find more care work,” she said. “But the people I spoke to on the stalls encouraged me to stop wasting my time and concentrate on doing what I like doing, because if you don’t try, you’ll never know. They gave me that extra push, information and confidence to start my own business, selling my sculptures and print drawings.

“I have ideas in my head that I need to follow through.”

The job fair, which was held at Ipswich Town Hall, attracted recruiters including Next and Marks & Spencer, which were both on the lookout for temporary staff for the festive season, and Suffolk Police, which was recruiting local policing volunteers.

Richard and Lynn Offord. picture: Jessica HillRichard and Lynn Offord. picture: Jessica Hill

Almost 9% of people living in Ipswich are currently unemployed. One of them is Nikita Shringe, 27, who has been out of work since leaving her call centre job for BT in India six months ago in order to join her husband in Ipswich.

“I’m looking for a data base job,” she explained. “I’ve applied for hundreds. For some roles I’m under qualified, and some I’m over qualified - I have a masters in science.

“Once you have a gap in your CV, it then becomes harder.”

Richard Offord was visiting the jobs fair with his wife, Lynn Offord, after being made redundant in July from his job in IT support after 25 years.

Edwards Haveron and Richard Grant. Picture: Jessica HillEdwards Haveron and Richard Grant. Picture: Jessica Hill

“There are lots of dead end jobs out there, but for someone who is used to an above average salary, its a shock,” he admitted.

“I had an interview last week for a job that paid £17,000 - the last time I was paid that was in 1995.”

Mrs Offord hadn’t worked for 20 years until this summer when she started working part time for Age UK. “Lynn will have to step into the saddle now,” Mr Offord said. “What I find hard in the job market is that its so impersonal. Nine times out of ten, you don’t hear back from company and you’re simply left hanging. At a jobs fair, at least you get face to face interaction with them.”

Edward Haveron, 32, is volunteering at the Mind Shop in Ipswich while he looks for work.

His real passion in life is 3D modelling and animation - but that doesn’t pay the bills for now. “I haven’t got the right sort of tools yet, so it takes me four days to make a four second animation clip. I’m here today because my bank balance is in the red, I need the money.”

He was joined at the job fair by his old school friend, Richard Grant, 32, who had previously worked in retail and warehousing but found out at the event that the NHS has jobs going as a hospital porter. “I’d like to apply for that role,” he said.

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