A YOUNG jobseeker has spoken of the despair and frustration he feels at not being able to get a job.
Michael Driver says he feels he is living the life of a 12-year-old as he cannot afford to do the normal things that people of his age can do.
At 20, Michael says he wants to find his own place to live in and enjoy nights out and holidays with his mates.
But instead he lives at home with his parents, Ste, a groundworker and Teresa, who works at the Wharton Trust, and his 17-year-old sister Kayleigh.
Michael, one of the faces of the Mail’s Work in Progress campaign, which aims to help people into work, said: “I’d love to move out, live my life and grow up.
“But it’s like being 12. I feel constricted.”
The former Manor College of Technology student added: “Most of my friends who are working are getting their own houses, living their lives while I sit on the couch and look for a job online.
“A lot of them say they are going on holiday this summer.
“But how am I meant to afford that?
“I feel like a burden. I want to feel like I’m doing something rather than just wasting away.
“I want to be a 20-year-old, not a couch potato.
“I have been unemployed for 18 months and there’s nothing for me to aim for.
“It’s like being retired, but you are meant to enjoy your retirement.”
Michael is surviving on £51 a week Jobseeker’s Allowance and pays £20 board to his parents while the rest is spent on travel in his quest to find jobs.
Since leaving Hartlepool College of Further Education with an NVQ Level 1 in plumbing, apart from a month’s temporary labouring contract, he has been unable to find work.
He was stewarding at Hartlepool United and was paid expenses until being laid off from that role in September.
Michael, who is a voluntary coach at Seaton Rugby Club and Cricket Club, said he has applied for between 150 and 200 jobs since leaving college.
He was interviewed for a role with British Energy for a job in Portsmouth, but was unsuccessful.
Some of his friends did get a job with the firm and Michael cannot help but compare his life to theirs. “It’s pretty embarrassing when I have got a lot of mates my age down in Portsmouth and they are going away on holiday every year,” said Michael.
“They are saying to me ‘are you coming out tonight?’
“But I can barely scrape two pennies together.”
Michael said sometimes he manages to find money to go out socialising once a month.
On Saturdays he goes to the pub - but drinks water because it is free. He said: “People offer to buy me a drink but I say no because I can’t buy them one back.
“I don’t like being on the dole.”
He also envies his friends when they buy the latest XBox games, while Michael is selling his console to save money.
Michael cannot drive but has sat his theory test twice.
But he cannot afford to pay for more lessons.
But optimistically, Michael, who has recently applied for a job sweeping out the arcades at Seaton Carew, said he was inspired after reading comedian Michael Macintyre’s book.
“He was bankrupt and prayed for a big break,” said Michael.
“The next thing you know he has a lucky strike and is now a mega-rich comedian.”