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A Gazette investigation: The lost generation

Dominic Hulme, Glenn Freeman (below) and (bottom) Jade Rutter with her 17-month-old baby.

Dominic Hulme, Glenn Freeman (below) and (bottom) Jade Rutter with her 17-month-old baby.

  • by Steve Canavan & Paul Baldwin
 

Taken into care aged five, he drank vodka in his teens and took cocaine. He suffers from depression. He’s now homeless and sleeps wherever he can.

Life has been anything but easy for Dominic Hulme but at the age of 25 he has sorted himself out.

He’s free of the drugs and the booze, and desperate to start earning money and to finally get his life back on track.

One problem – he can’t get a job.

“I have emailed my CV left, right and centre, to everyone, but you never get a reply,” he said.

“I’ve thought a few times about printing off 100 CVs, standing at the top of The Tower and throwing them off to see what happens, see if I get any feedback ... but I’d probably just get done for littering knowing my luck.”

Dominic, who has spent all his life in Blackpool, never knew his dad and was taken off his mum by the authorities at the age of five.

“She was really poorly and had bad epilepsy. She couldn’t provide for me and I was too young to look after her,” he said.

“I had loads of different foster parents but I was a problem child when I was younger, so it never worked out.”

It’s hardly surprising Dominic started doing things he shouldn’t.

“I got in with the wrong crowd and tried pretty much most drugs at a young age – cannabis, speed, cocaine, mushrooms, everything really.

“It is easy to get into it because of some of the kind of people that live in Blackpool. They can be very intimidating. If you don’t do it you are an idiot. You are pressured into it.

“I drank everything too - vodka, cider, lager, anything I could get my hands on. But again it’s what most teenagers in Blackpool do.

“I am clean now. I am drug-clear now. I have been for five years.”

What helped start to bring Dominic to his senses was a good foster mum and finding a partner. He now has three children, though when they split four months ago, he suddenly found himself without a home.

“I’ve been sofa surfing, sleeping on mates’ settees, staying wherever I can. I’ve slept on the streets a couple of times,” he said.

“My partner and I are still mates and we’re talking things through, trying to start from scratch again.

“It’s not easy and I’m on medication for depression but it is my children that keep me going.

“When I’m with my kids I don’t feel bad at all.”

Ask Dominic where he’d like to be in a year and he says: “I’d love to be in a full-time job and have a nice family home, settle down...

“But none of that’s going to happen if I can’t get a job.

“Blackpool’s all right, it’s not a bad place to live and as long as you don’t get drawn into the wrong crowds you should be OK.

“But there are no jobs. I don’t want to be like all these other Blackpool people who hang around and have never had a job and look scruffy.

“I want to better myself, I just don’t quite know how it’s going to happen.”

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Over 1,000 forms – and not one interview

Glenn Freeman (pictured) stands out in a crowd. He’s a big fella and he’s the only person in the Job Centre wearing a Chelsea shirt.

He was in good spirits because they’d just beaten Manchester United, but it’s the only thing he has to smile about at the moment.

Aged 20, he confesses he messed around at school and got poor GCSEs, and he’s spent the last four years playing catch up.

Glenn says he applied for between one and two thousand jobs last year.

“And I didn’t get a single interview,” he says. “That’s not to say I didn’t get a job. I did get a couple. I’ve worked in a fabric shop and a warehouse, though they got rid of me after three days because they found some eastern European guys and it was easier for them to employ those blokes rather than use someone untrained like me.

“My last job was in security but that is seasonal, so I’ve been signing on for the last four months.

“They might say there are loads of jobs out there but it’s damn hard getting one when you haven’t got the qualifications.”

Glenn’s not from a problem home. He lives with his parents on Osborne Road in South Shore, near South Pier, though it is in the midst of an area which has had more than it’s fair share of problems.

“My worst experience happened when I was 14 when a bloke walked up to me and stabbed me in the arm with a syringe,” said Glenn.

“I spent the night in hospital and had to have blood tests for HIV and all sorts of things for the next year.

“I want to leave town and go somewhere else but until I’ve got a job and have earned a bit of money I can’t. But I can’t get a job – so it’s a vicious circle.”

Glenn goes to the Connexions on Market Street, a place which aims to get the town’s young people into education, employment and training.

He added: “I’m here to get a bit of confidence because the more times you get knocked back for jobs, the more it hurts your pride.

“It’s funny because when we left school one of my best mates got a job at McDonalds and I took the mick out of him.

“Now I’m jealous because he’s worked there since and he has loads of money and buys whatever he wants.

“I desperately want to get a job. I hate sitting at home all day doing nowt.

“It was brilliant last year when I was working for a security firm. My mum’s retired and my dad is a bus driver and they struggle a bit, so I was able to help out and give them money.

“Now I can’t give them a penny because I only have a certain amount myself to live off for a fortnight. I feel horrible about that.”

If Glenn could go back to Palatine High School, where, by his own admittance he messed around instead of working, he would study hard and get good grades.

But just because he didn’t, is it right he’s unemployed and struggling to find a job?

“I just want to work,” he says. “But no one seems to want me.”

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‘It’s horrible not having a job’

Jade Rutter (pictured) fears for the future of her 17 month old baby growing up in Blackpool.

The 21-year-old left school with a creditable seven GCSEs and went on to focus on business studies at Beneast Training, in Coleridge Road, achieving a further eight qualifications.

Despite this her working life in the resort has been short, badly paid, and tough.

No-one could accuse her of being lazy – Jade started a job in Cleveleys where she says she worked from 9am to 8pm five days a week for just £2.50-per-hour – substantially below the legal minimum wage – about £550 in a good month.

Unfortunately the business folded and soon after that Jade, of Horsebridge Road, became pregnant.

She said: “I was desperate to find a job but of course because I was pregnant no-one would touch me.”

She continues her job-search, sending out letters and simply knocking on shop doors with her CV and asking for work. To date she has still had little success.

The new mum said: “It is horrible not having a job, you just become bored and stressed.

“People think it must be easy and you just watch TV all day, but it’s nothing like that, it’s mindless, you just have nothing to do. If you’re not careful it kills your aspiration.

“If I didn’t have my son to get me out of bed, who knows, maybe I would stay in bed all day.

“It’s not that young people haven’t got the imagination to do anything, it’s just that they haven’t got the money.”

Jade claims benefits – Income Support and Tax Credits – but contrary to popular belief in some quarters this does not make her stinking rich.

She said: “All told, I get about £20-a-day for everything. We get by, but I don’t know what I’d do without my mum. I want to work, trust me – there’s nothing in life if you don’t work, but what can you do? Just keep trying I suppose.

“I worry for my son because if things are bad now what is it going to be like when he’s a teenager?

“I love Blackpool but there’s a feeling it’s going down hill and I’m afraid I would leave the town if I got a job offer in a heartbeat.”

Read more from The Gazette investigation - The lost generation:

THE STARK TRUTH ABOUT GROWING UP IN BLACKPOOL

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