It has recently been reported that Redundancy has reached a record high, with over 300,000 people being made redundant in recent months alone.
Our Operations Manager, Peter Robinson, was made redundant by his last employer three years ago and has kindly offered to share his story, in the hope that it may offer some comfort for anyone who finds themselves in this position.
REDUNDANCY is a word that can cause many emotions, it can cause fear, it can cause rejection, it can be a relief and even hope and happiness.
Redundancy to some people can mean early retirement and the start of a new beginning, a chance to see more of your family or the world. On the opposite side of the spectrum, it can mean financial worry, fear of the unknown, depression and be a real low point in an individual’s life.
These feelings and emotions generally depend on a few factors:
- Length of service
- Specialist skills
- Financial situation
- Dependant family
People consider buying insurance for a phone, car, house, or holiday, but how many people think about insurance regarding losing your job; either by purchasing a Loss of Earnings Policy or by creating a ‘Savings Pot’ to mitigate the impact of redundancy. The answer is, not many! This is mainly due to many people not seeing this as an immediate need or a lack of spare funds.
I myself went through redundancy three years ago this month. I had spent 30 years working for the same company (a Bank) which I joined straight from school at the age of 16, with limited qualifications and no real understanding of what I wanted to do or be.
I worked my way through the ranks into a fairly senior role and had seen many friends and colleagues lose their jobs because of redundancy. Yet, it still never crossed my mind that I would be placed in a situation where I would be facing redundancy at 46 years old, with a son just about to start university, a large mortgage, no savings, and no recognised qualification.
At the time, I was also suffering from severe depression and anxiety, which was caused by the stress of my job, personal issues, and the thought of catching the bus/train/tube required for my daily commute filled me with fear.
Initially I embraced the redundancy, as I looked at it as a chance to change my thought processes and find a job which was more local and doing something that I enjoyed.
As I had spent 30 years working for the same company, finding a new job was daunting however, I did receive some support from my Employer, who provided me with assistance in preparing a CV and interview techniques. I then wrote down a list of my requirements for my new job:
- The job must be Croydon based or commutable by car
- I would need a salary of £xxx to cover my bills and leave a little extra
- I wanted to be more customer focused and help people
- I wanted to work for a smaller company and very much be part of a team
Then, with my list of requirements needed, to begin a new chapter in my life, I joined various Recruitment Agencies and searched the internet for my dream role.
Despite completing the online forms with all my requirements, skills, knowledge etc the recruitment companies appeared to ignore all of this and continually recommended roles that were totally inappropriate to my requirements. This went on for several months and my severance pay was shrinking like an ice cube in the sun!
I was encouraged by friends and family to just take any job and to continue looking. Although it was not as easy as it sounds, as I was seen as either too old or overqualified and had no joy.
I did the occasional days work for friends on building sites and the like, but for someone who worked behind a desk for 30 years, it was difficult to adapt.
My mental health wasn’t improving, as I feared I would soon run out of money and have to give up my home to maintain some sort of financial security. By this point, I had now been unemployed for 18 months, I was claiming Job Seekers Allowance feeling unemployable more and more as every day went by.
After doing some research, I joined an agency who specialised in helping those with mental health issues get back to work and within 2 weeks I was given a link to a job vacancy at CroydonPlus Credit Union. This was an organisation that I had never heard of however, having read the job specification I was intrigued. So, I put a lot of effort into better understanding CroydonPlus and what they did. I found out the following:
- They are based in the Croydon Council building – tick regarding my requirements
- They look to help the community with savings and lending – tick again
- They are a small Organisation and have a very much ‘team-based work ethic’ – tick again
- They paid £xxx – a little less than I required but not an issue, so tick again
So, with my main requirements being met and the role requiring much of the knowledge I had gained over my 30 years within a Bank, I knew I had to apply. My application was sent, and I awaited a response with great excitement – my mental health improving by the minute!
Soon after, I received a request to attend an interview and began preparing for it. When the day of the interview arrived, I just said to myself, ‘be proud you got this far’ and that if it wasn’t meant to be, then there would be a role out there somewhere for me.
The interview was harder than expected with 5 or 6 people in attendance, but I felt that I came across well and demonstrated what they needed.
To my amazement 2 days later I received a call offering me the role! I was speechless and phoned my family immediately to tell them the news. There was relief all round and I finally felt of use again!
Move forward 12 months and I write this as the proud Operations Manager of CroydonPlus Credit Union. Despite struggling initially with my mental health, I have thrived and not even Covid-19 has dampened my enthusiasm – in fact, it has probably made be stronger mentally!
So, I am not sure if anyone will read this in full or whether it is of any help, but it has been quite therapeutic for me to write this. My advice to everyone is to plan for the things you least expect. Save as much as you can when you can, maybe with your local Credit Union? And for those going through a redundancy situation I say Never Give Up Hope, Back Yourself and who knows what opportunities are around the corner!
I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas and can spend time with family and friends. Be safe!
CroydonPlus Credit Union