A FORMER call centre worker has told of his nightmare battle to get a new job after he was one of 1,100 people made redundant.
Dozens of ex-staff at Garlands Call Centres are battling for the same handful of positions, says a Hartlepool man who was one of the 1,158 people laid off by the company in May last year.
The Garlands employee, who does not want to be identified, spoke to the Mail to highlight how life in the aftermath of redundancy has been tough with little employment available and many firms not even replying to his letters of request.
Garlands Call Centres, based at Hartlepool Marina, Middlesbrough and South Shields, announced it had gone into administration in May, saying it was unable to support trading after the "termination of key contracts".
The centre employed 1,158 people, 621 in Hartlepool, 178 based in South Shields and 359 in Middlesbrough.
The man said: "It has been hell. I cannot get full-time work.
"Of my friends who worked at Garlands, half of them have gone back into call centre work but there was no way I was going to go back into that and if you rule out call centre work, there is nothing else in the North-East.
"The JobCentre was very helpful to everyone but with more than 1,000 people working for Garlands, everyone is scrambling for a few jobs."
He added: "I must have applied for dozens of jobs but to be honest I have lost count.
"I have tried for pretty much everything including retail, management, sales and education."
"I must have put at least 10 hours per week into looking for new work and I have had absolutely no response from any of the employers to whom I have applied.
"I feel very frustrated, almost to the point of giving up."
The man said he had looked for work at companies across Hartlepool but had also looked further afield in towns such as Stockton, Peterlee and Middlesbrough.
The Garlands closure had a big impact on the unemployment figures in Hartlepool, with the most-recently released statistics showing the town is now among the top five in the country for the percentage of people seeking work.