Signing On

I recently had an extended period of unexpected unemployment. 

For the first couple of weeks, things were fun. I could do what I liked when I liked. I went to galleries, I cycled daily, went rock climbing and took photos. Life seemed good. 

When the 4th week came, things changed. Money ran out, promised money from my old employer didn’t materialise, feelings of uselessness set in and my mind started to wander. 

On this one day, one of the last of my unemployment, I didn’t go out as usual, I didn’t want to. I didn’t get out of bed till late and I started to watch daytime TV. On this day, I went to sign on.

On this day I began to have some empathy with the long term unemployed. This day made me feel a bit useless and worthless. This was only one day, but it gave me glimpse in to someone else’s life. A life that is often demonized by people who call them lazy and work shy. A life where you are reminded that you are asking for help and the Government are doing you a favour and bailing you out. 

My experience at the job centre was not great. I was pointed at, told where to sit, made to wait whilst my appointment was delayed so the staff member could talk about her social life in front of me. I was tutted at and made to fit in with their forms not as an individual. 

It really was like Pauline from “The League of Gentleman”. (See

This was this day in photos. Taken on Kodak Color Plus from Poundland. 

© Chris Marchant
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