NEET - Never Entertained, Engaged or Trusted

A performance at St.Luke’s Church
Friday 30th August 2013

Review and Photos by Redskye

NEET is the label first used by the previous Labour government and officially stands for ‘Not in Education, Employment or Training’. This is part and parcel of the continuing process of demonising young working class people. Statistics also show that 19.2% (that’s nearly 1/5th) of people between the age of 18 and 25, regardless of their educational qualifications are defined as NEET.

What isn’t explained is that getting into a further education college or more so higher education is now so costly that most young working class people simply can’t afford to continue in education and low income families often struggle financially in supporting them. The Tory/LibDem government also abolished the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) in 2011 which provided a weekly income of £30 for teenagers aged 16-19 staying on in education. Thus young people are increasingly damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Getting employment means competing with older, more qualified and experienced employees all while the unemployment rate increases.

NEVER ENTERTAINED, ENGAGED or TRUSTED was a performance created by a group of 18-25 year olds with the support of Urban Strawberry Lunch who are based at the St.Luke’s Church. They’re all defined as NEETs and the idea was to invite potential employers, training and education providers to see them perform and hopefully after the thirty minute performance they might offer them a chance, job or place on a training or education course. Some of them want to get into performing arts, but others are interested in a wide range of work. There were two performances first for those able to offer employment or training to these young people and the later performance I saw was for friends, family and supporters.

Firstly the performance began with the young people walking on in hoodies and white masks covering their faces, they lined up and began drumming. Challenging the negative stereotypes one by one they took off their masks and pulled down their hoods to reveal themselves as unthreatening young people. We were treated to many excellent musical performances on the stage, then shown a typical job interview where by the thoughts of both the interviewer and job seeker were expressed by a young person standing next to them. The ‘dreaded’ job interview can often be a make or break life changing process for many of us - I know it was for me. In less than ten minutes you either impress or fail and you’re left hanging for days waiting for a reply, most often for me it was another soul destroying “We regret to inform you…” letter added to my ever growing pile in the folder that the Job Centre inquisitor always refused to look at.

All the young people wore T-Shirts with a wide variety of big bold challenging statements on them such as; I WANT A JOB, ZERO HOURS CONTRACTS, JOB PLEASE, SPARE PART, DON’T JUDGE ME, DON’T INTERVIEW MY APPEARANCE, I’M NOT JUST A NUMBER, JOBLESS? MEANINGLESS!

All credit to Ambrose and Liz at USL for taking on the issue and to the young people for making their point loud and clear for many of their generation while also being entertaining and upbeat too. “Next time” I suggested “they should perform inside Liverpool town hall, in front of the councillors, elected Mayor and Merseyside’s MPs” who are all ultimately responsible for supporting the economic and social policies keeping our young people down.

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