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'I feel totally rejected': What challenges do Ipswich jobseekers face looking for work?

PUBLISHED: 16:52 10 October 2019 | UPDATED: 09:46 11 October 2019

Callum Kempton has been looking for a job for three years now and has battled with his mental health, making it harder for him to find work. Picture: HOLLY HUME

Callum Kempton has been looking for a job for three years now and has battled with his mental health, making it harder for him to find work. Picture: HOLLY HUME

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They ranged from those emigrating to the UK to follow their dreams, to job-hunters trying to overcome repeated rejections after months of looking for work.

Oksana Demidova moved to Ipswich form Latvia last year to find work and has applied to the Suffolk Police where she hopes to use her language skills. She speaks Russian, Latvian, English, Belarus, Polish and Ukrainian. Picture: HOLLY HUMEOksana Demidova moved to Ipswich form Latvia last year to find work and has applied to the Suffolk Police where she hopes to use her language skills. She speaks Russian, Latvian, English, Belarus, Polish and Ukrainian. Picture: HOLLY HUME

But if there is one thing that motivates all those at the 2019 Ipswich Jobs Fair, it is one thing - the determination to build a brighter future for themselves.

Suffolk's waterfront town has faced a series of well-documented economic challenges in recent years, with Flow Energy and the Co-op distribution centre being two of the most recent places to lay out dozens of workers.

This year's Ipswich Jobs Fair - run by Ipswich Borough Council and Jobcentre Plus - was therefore largely tailored to workers from those two former employers - but also included stalls from a variety of organisations such as Suffolk Constabulary and technology businesses.

Michelle Gordon, economic development manager at the council, said the event - attended by 1,000 people - provided an important service.

Alexandra Stephanenco came to the UK last year to study accountancy in Ireland and has now moved to Ipswich with her husband, where she hopes to fulfil her dream of becoming an accountant. Picture: HOLLY HUMEAlexandra Stephanenco came to the UK last year to study accountancy in Ireland and has now moved to Ipswich with her husband, where she hopes to fulfil her dream of becoming an accountant. Picture: HOLLY HUME

"It's a shame because a lot of the jobs in Ipswich aren't visible on the high street so people don't necessarily know they're there," she said.

"There were two redundancies recently at large companies, which were Flow Energy and the Co-op distribution centre, so we have tailored the job fair to suit the needs of the hundreds of people we know are now looking for jobs.

"It's hard to be unemployed in the run up to Christmas so we're hoping to make some people happy."

Alex and Callum's story

Callum and Alex are both 19 and feel disheartened after being rejected from so many jobs. Picture: HOLLY HUMECallum and Alex are both 19 and feel disheartened after being rejected from so many jobs. Picture: HOLLY HUME

At 19 years old, both young men are currently unemployed and on Universal Credit, but are starting to feel disheartened as they keep searching.

Callum Kempton, from Ipswich, said: "I have been looking for the past three years since 2016 when I left high school. It's slowly becoming more dull with each rejection.

"When I first started I will admit I had a few months of down period because I just was depressed, didn't feel like going out and just sat in my room doing my own thing.

"But over the course of three years I have kind of just felt totally rejected."

Alex Cruz has been looking for a job for the past year and feels there isn't enough support from schools to prepare people for life on the job hunt. Picture: HOLLY HUMEAlex Cruz has been looking for a job for the past year and feels there isn't enough support from schools to prepare people for life on the job hunt. Picture: HOLLY HUME

His friend Alex Cruz, from the Greenwich area of Ipswich, has been looking for a year now and struggles with the isolation of being an unemployed adult.

He said: "School didn't prepare us. All they did was the basics of maths and English which is obviously an essential thing to get but they never bothered to do anything more."

He feels that companies are also not supportive enough during the application process to ensure the entry criteria is understandable.

He said: "Often times when you apply to a job, they'll say: 'Do you have this particular certification?' or they'll say: 'Do you have A-levels?' and you'll think to yourself: 'Do I have that?'"

The job fair was held at the Corn Exchange in the town centre. Picture: HOLLY HUMEThe job fair was held at the Corn Exchange in the town centre. Picture: HOLLY HUME

Alex has a BTEC equivalent in business studies but was unaware of how much value hiring managers attached to this qualification.

He added: "Feedback is actually something which is a lot more scarce these days because a lot of people don't hear back from companies when they apply .

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"It's often a case of if you don't hear back, then you don't have the job.

The job fair was held at the Corn Exchange in Ipswich town centre. Picture: HOLLY HUMEThe job fair was held at the Corn Exchange in Ipswich town centre. Picture: HOLLY HUME

"But sometimes the feedback can be really helpful. It's better to hear something than nothing at all really."

Callum has faced mental health issues for years and has the additional stress of supporting himself on Universal Credit as he lives alone with his brother.

He said: "I have just moved out and when money issues start coming up I have to stack that over the already present dread of not being able to get a job.

"So I've been forcing myself out for the past month to get a job and every time I get declined, I get more and more worried that I'm going to get evicted because of my rent."

Suffolk Police managed to sign up 30 people who were interested in their work. Picture: HOLLY HUMESuffolk Police managed to sign up 30 people who were interested in their work. Picture: HOLLY HUME

Oksana's story

Oksana spent most of the fair speaking with the Suffolk Constabulary, where she is determined to work now that she has moved to Ipswich.

She comes from Latvia and speaks six different languages, which she hopes to put to good use in the force as a translator.

She said: "I used to work as a police officer in Latvia, where I was an investigator in the criminal police.

Over 800 people were at the fair from 10am-2pm. Picture: HOLLY HUMEOver 800 people were at the fair from 10am-2pm. Picture: HOLLY HUME

"When I worked as an investigator I didn't need to wait for an interpreter from the state police because if I understood Russian there are a lot of Russian people living in Latvia, so my work became easier because of all of my languages."

Oksana learnt to speak different languages as she had many friends with different nationalities back home in Latvia where she learnt Russian, English, Belarusian, Polish and Ukrainian, alongside her native tongue.

She said: "It will help in my job I think because in Suffolk there are many different nationalities. I think my knowledge could be very helpful for them.

"I hope I can come back to my work which I found very special and interesting because it is my dream to work for Suffolk Police."

There were 48 different stalls with many opportunities. Picture: HOLLY HUMEThere were 48 different stalls with many opportunities. Picture: HOLLY HUME

Alexandra's story

Alexandra moved to the UK last year and came to the job fair to pursue her dream of becoming an accountant.

She said: "I have much to offer and I am very positive. I am a person with high ambitions, so I think it will be good.

"I learnt English in the last year and now I have a qualification in accounting from the Cavan Institute in Ireland."

Ipsiwch Job Fair at the Corn Exchange. PictureL HOLLY HUMEIpsiwch Job Fair at the Corn Exchange. PictureL HOLLY HUME

Alexandra is from Moldova and has lived in Russia and Ireland, before moving to England in April with her husband.

She said: "When I moved to Ireland I got this opportunity to do accountancy again and enter into another world and meet new people and a new country.

"I like people and communicating and experiencing change. It's a good day here to find something."

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