Plymouth man living in his car with his dog after losing job, home and girlfriend
DOWN-on-his luck Luke Male is living in his car with just his faithful dog Elvis for company after losing his job, his home and his girl in quick succession.
The 22-year-old has been caught in an unemployment trap which has left him sweating on whether he will even be able to afford to keep his Suzuki Vitara 4x4 by the end of this week.
Luke, who has never been unemployed before, left his job as a window fitter last month, after failing to gel with a new employer.
But he did not reckon on a Plymouth job market which has changed dramatically since the economic downturn and now sees 6,616 people on benefits in Plymouth.
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It meant he was not able to walk into another position, as he had expected, and found out he could not claim benefits due to a hitch in his National Insurance payments.
Things then got worse, as the impact of unemployment and a non-existent income put unbearable strain on his relationship with his girlfriend.
The couple split and Luke found himself moving out of her house – and into his car.
With no cash coming in, and a 15-month old Staffordshire bull terrier in tow, Luke said he cannot get a roof over his head.
And now he is desperate for work, saying he has just £30 in his wallet and a bank balance which could be wiped out when his next phone and car insurance bills are paid.
"I lost my job, ran out of money, and split with my missus," he said. "I sold my TV, X-Box and vacuum cleaner to get by – my dog is all I've got left in the world and I'm not going to get rid of him."
Luke has been living in his car for more than two weeks now, eating and washing at relatives' houses, spending his days looking after Elvis and trying to find a job.
"I spend half the time walking around because it's cold," he said. "Sleeping in the car is cold too, and uncomfortable.
"I've got some petrol and no intention of going any distance," he added. "Other than that I've got £30 in my wallet, and some change, but not much in the bank, which I'll try to keep to cover my phone contract and insurance on the car – but at the end of the month this will fall short.
"Other than that, I'm walking around and feeling fed up. When I left work I never anticipated this – I never thought I'd be unemployed."
Luke is one of a growing number of unemployed people in Plymouth. Although latest figures are down on the previous month, they are up on a year ago.
Luke said he has looked for work but his "cries fall on deaf ears" and he added: "I feel pretty hopeless."
But he has not given up yet and said: "I'm still going to try to get on with it."
He has been receiving help from Careers South West and is looking for jobs, being a qualified window fitter, with experience in kitchen and bathroom fitting too, and would particularly like a job in construction or retail.
And he's also got the support of The Herald, being one of the first six people featured in our new Get Hired campaign. The initiative will follow the job-hunters as they strive for work, and aims to help them, and others like them, find jobs.
You can read their stories, and more about Luke, by turning to our new supplement The Workplace, in the centre of The Herald today.
If you can help Luke, perhaps with a job, contact William Telford, business editor, on 01752 765529 or email email@example.com.
If you are unemployed, have an interesting story or want to feature in Get Hired, get in touch too. We'd love to hear from you.
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