Grimsby was once the herring capital of Europe, indelibly linked with the fishing industry, so much so rumour has it the town was named after Grim, a Danish fisherman.
In the 1950?s Grimsby was the busiest fishing port in the world. Although still a prominent part of the town’s heritage it is evident fishing has been in decline since the 1950?s heyday.
Today food production is the biggest employer in the town; a lot of fish is produced here but more often shipped from Aberdeen or even flown from Iceland than caught off Grimsby. There are sad signs of decline here too, however. Kerry foods has recently moved hundreds of jobs out of Grimsby and Blue Star Fibres is going through mass redundancies too. Unemployment is high in Grimsby; at 14.5per cent, it is way over the 7.8 per cent national level.
The day started miserable and grey but as the clouds cleared people made their way towards the bus. I met John who spoke me about his son Steven. John wants his son to work, however with behavioural and learning difficulties he fears going straight into a conventional workplace may be difficult for Steven. When John reached out to the Job Centre for help he was greeted with a 20 page Atos form with a four week deadline to return it in. The form focuses on physical ability with questions such as ?can you pick up a pound coin?? or ?can you lift your arm about your head?? with no compassion or offer of the actual help needed to get Steven into the workplace.
Just after John left Katy came in, her 3 year old son was with her. He?s been having a difficult time as of late, in and out of hospital with numerous operations over the last year but the smile didn?t leave his face. Katy told me her partner can?t get the hours at work at the moment, he?s on a zero hour contract and it?s difficult to balance the budget when you don?t know how much is coming in from month to month which adds to stress of having a sick son.
Being underemployed is a rising problem in the UK, nearly 10 per cent of the work force say they?d like to work more and that?s on top of the 2.56 million unemployed, but you don’t need to tell Katy that.