My name is Andy. As a relatively new member of the Tree Shepherd team, I haven’t been to many of Colin’s public speaking events. Last year I heard him speak at School for Social Entrepreneurs about some of his experiences setting up social enterprises, but last week at Brixton Library was the first time I’ve seen Colin speak to a room about his book, How to Make a Million Jobs.
Actually, he doesn’t really speak about the book. He mentions it, of course, and plenty of people from the audience bought a signed copy at the end of the evening, but he actually spoke about two things – how much of a negative impact worklessness has on those unfortunate enough to find themselves unemployed for a long stretch of time, and how much of a positive impact work has on those same people when it finally comes along.
Colin is a natural storyteller. After listening to him tell the stories of some of those he has employed, I feel I have a far better understanding of the issue of persistent unemployment, especially the human angle, the angle which never comes across in the articles, reports and statistics I had previously read.
This is the stuff people generally don’t talk about. You don’t generally hear stories about the defence mechanisms people develop to hide their illiteracy. You don’t generally hear stories about the way people shrink into themselves and lose a sense of worth through being jobless. And you don’t generally hear about the joy and the pride that fills somebody who has been taken on after years of failed job applications.
Long-term unemployment is a serious issue, but Colin addresses it in a refreshing, down-to-earth way that brings as much hope as anger and frustration. He entertains and he informs, but most importantly he shows that there are solutions out there.