Quite a few years ago now I became redundant from a small family run building company that had been taken over by a much larger one. When the ‘take over' happened we were told that they wouldn't be closing the office so no need to worry about our jobs. However, less than 12 months later I was ‘signing on' at my local Unemployment Office and looking for another job. I must admit it was not something that I enjoyed, having to line up in a queue waiting for my turn. I know the way people sign on and where has changed during the ensuing years but the feeling of not being in work, and unable to get work, can still be one that can drag a person down. Hope seems to be in very short supply when this happens.
A colleague of mine, the Reverend Katharine Green, recently wrote a short article on ‘Hope' for our local newspaper relating to today's difficult situation where more and more people are being made redundant, or whose businesses have gone to the wall.
This is what she said -
‘I've heard it said that a person can live forty days without food, three days without water, five minutes without air, but not one second without hope. I wonder if you've ever felt that all that you had hoped and dreamed of has been lost? In the face of recession the loss of hopes and dreams and the pain of abandonment can seem all too real.'
The hope my colleague was referring to was based on Easter, she continues. ‘The promise of Easter is that when all seems lost, when everything seems to have fallen apart, this is not the end; out of death and brokenness will come new life and hope.
Hope means staying the course and not giving up, even when all around us seems to be falling apart. When Jesus died, his disciples may have felt that they had been abandoned and that all their hopes had been crushed, but only three days later something happened that was beyond all they could have possibly imagined, Jesus was a alive; he had been given back to them.'
Trying to cope with my own worklessness I took a very temporary job with the Post Office, delivering mail when the regular deliverers were off sick. This was, as you can imagine very irregular work. Then one day I received a telephone call from someone who had seen me delivering the post. ‘I was wondering if you would be interested in coming to work for me?'
Well as you can imagine I was thrilled and of course I said ‘yes'. This job led to me being employed by him and his partner for the next 17 years.
Hope? No I don't think I gave up hope, but of course it can be severely tested, especially when every letter you send off, every application you make for employment comes back with a negative response, or isn't even acknowledged.
In the leaflet ‘Lost your Job?' that ‘Faith @ Work' in Worcestershire has produced to help anyone who has become unemployed it says this:- ‘Being made redundant is never easy. Our initial reaction might be shock, denial, shame, anger, depression or all of these. For some people it feels almost like a bereavement, and it takes time even to begin to think straight about what to do. But redundancy is not the end of the world and life goes on.'
It goes on to give a little advice:-
- Don't suffer in silence. Talk to someone about how you feel, perhaps someone who has had the same experience.
- Do accept it has happened. Don't pretend it hasn't and do get on with doing something about it.
- Don't take it personally. It's the job that has been made redundant, not you.
- Do seek advice and support so you can make the next step which is right for you.
I would like to add to that - and above all - don't give up hope! Hope is an openness to the future.