Exmouth's 'scrapheap' gran in plea for employment

PUBLISHED: 11:00 12 August 2015

Christine Sharland

Christine Sharland

Archant

A grandmother, who believes she is on the scrapheap at the age of 56, is appealing to employers to give her a chance.

Mum-of-three Christine Sharland, of Madeira Villas, Withycombe Raleigh, said she had fallen victim to inexperience, prompting employers to overlook her for roles.

The proactive jobseeker recently wrote 20 letters to employers in Exmouth and Exeter, asking for work, but was dismayed when only one replied.

Christine, whose younger years were spent raising her children, said her requests for work were frequently ignored; she believes her age and lack of experience is to blame.

Christine has been claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance for six years. She claims employers are shunning the older workforces’ will to work when filling vacancies.

In a bid to gain experience, the grandmother now volunteers at a charity shop in the town.

She also enrolled on a computer course and volunteers her time to help pupils read at an Exmouth primary school.

Christine believes she is not alone, feeling overlooked in favour of younger and more experienced employees.

She said: “I do feel like I am on the scrapheap sometimes. As long as I can get a job, I will feel like I am making a difference to others, and to myself, and my self-esteem.

“People may say they don’t want to work, but once you are not working, it’s different. If you are still able to work, you feel like society has forgotten you.

“I probably could go and clean, but you probably need a qualification to clean a floor.

“I dress smartly, speak nicely and have excellent people skills, still no one even responds to my application form - some of which are very long.

“It’s very frustrating and makes me feel like I’ve been put out to pasture.”

Christine, who daily seeks employment through the job centre, urged employers to be considerate towards those who apply for vacant positions.

“Please, employers, don’t just go by what people have done, but look at them as a whole person,” she said.

“I have a great personality and I am friendly, warm and kind and reasonably intelligent, not academic though.

“Please give us older women a chance. And if you can’t, can you please at least answer us. A ‘no thank you’ in a bulk email would suffice.”

She added: “I wrote 20 letters to different places in Exmouth and Exeter. I only got one letter back, telling me where to look for jobs.

“When I get down, I don’t feel like keeping on looking. I quite often lose confidence in myself and think ‘I can’t do it’. It’s hard to keep motivated.”

“I don’t even think about what I want to do; I don’t think it’s going to be possible - that’s how I feel about being rejected.

“I am disillusioned. When am I going to get a chance?

“This is why I am doing voluntary work so I can get the experience because, at the moment, that seems the stumbling block.”

Christine said: “It’s nice to hear unemployment has gone down, but I’ve sadly not had such luck; probably because I haven’t got recent experience or references. But I am now working in a school voluntarily to counteract this. I will also work anywhere for free, wherever they want me.

“I’ve moved about a little and not worked for many years, so it’s been hard to get experience and references.

“I am mid-fifties and attended an in-depth two-year counselling course, worked with children, have numerous CRB checks and have various certificates. But my age and lack of recent experience stops employers taking a chance with me.”

● Will you give Christine a chance? Call the Journal to be put in touch, 01392 888507.

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