Survey to ask what life is like after redundancy

New opportunities: Lis Anderson was one of the guest speakers at the NUJ Opportunities Day (Picture: Simon Chapman)

New opportunities: Lis Anderson was one of the guest speakers at the NUJ Opportunities Day (Picture: Simon Chapman)

By Paul Breeden

What happens after you’ve been made redundant? That’s a question that has faced many a journalist in the Bristol area this year, with ITV West and the Evening Post/Western Daily Press both shedding a large proportion of their workforces.

Bristol NUJ has been at the forefront in offering help and advice to members who’ve lost their jobs, and now the branch wants to gather the experiences of those who have been made redundant.

The aim is to compile a picture of what’s happened since the P45s went out – and also to showcase some of the imaginative ways in which former broadcast and print journalists are using their skills.

The Branch has already pointed the way to alternative career paths at an Opportunities Day held for members and non-members on April 4, 2009, at which a host of employers and individuals showcased a range of ideas including positive news on jobs from Bristol’s thriving PR sector.

A capacity crowd of more than 60 thronged the event at Bristol’s Ramada hotel, and the feedback was universally positive.

The meeting heard from:

  • Tom Bowden-Green of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, who outlined the opportunities available in the world of PR;
  • Lis Anderson, managing director of Bristol PR firm Corixa, on the practice of PR consultancy;
  • Matt Anderson of digital communications agency Montage on burgeoning ways of exploiting new media, particularly social networking sites;
  • Sarah Pinch, head of communications at University Hospitals Bristol NHS Trust, on the challenging work of press officers in the public sector;
  • Liz Snell, of recruitment specialist South West Xchange Team, on how journalists can present themselves to non-editorial employers.

There was down-to-earth advice from Bristol NUJ chair Christina Zaba on the practicalities of self-employment, from time management to doing the accounts.

Further help with going it alone came from the BRAVE enterprise agency, which supports all those branching out on their own for the first time.

And there was illuminating discussion throughout the day, notably when a panel of regional journalists shared their experiences since leaving permanent employment:

  • Chloe Rigby, former business editor of the Evening Post, now a busy freelance writer specialising in business;
  • Samantha Brown, a former journalist who now performs PR for Penny Brohn Cancer Care;
  • Russell Binns, Bristol NUJ’s freelance officer who combines being a self-employed photographer with a practice in hypnotherapy;
  • Robert Buckland, ex-business editor of the Western Daily Press, now a PR executive for a Bristol agency and a freelance PR;
  • Anita Bennett, a former writer for the Sunday Times who now teaches the Alexander Technique;
  • Paul Breeden, ex-sub-editor on the Western Daily Press who is now active in PR, media training, freelance writing and subbing and also a handyman.

One theme that emerged from the day was that self-employment is often seen as a challenge by many who have only worked for big organisations, but is often a liberation for those who try it.

Among the career paths chosen by those who’ve been laid off are:

  • Freelance writer
  • Freelance sub
  • Media training – for corporates and for voluntary organisations
  • Lecturing in journalism
  • PR – employed and self-employed
  • Handyman
  • Alternative healthcare
  • Corporate videos
  • Voiceovers
  • Stock photography (placing pictures with agencies)
  • Press office work
  • Setting up websites – including news and local events
  • TV production

… but there will be many more.

So what’s happened to you since you were made redundant? If you’ve lost your job please share your experiences, even if you’ve chosen not to work, or you’ve been unable to find the opportunities you want.

Send your experiences to bristol (a) nuj.org.uk or join in one of the discussion forums to be unveiled soon.

Your contribution could be enlightening to another member; who knows, it could lead to new opportunities for you.

Further information
NUJ training courses for members and non-members: http://www.nujtraining.org.uk
Resources of all kinds for freelances: www.londonfreelance.org
BRAVE Enterprise: http://www.brave.org.uk

Photos from the Opportunities Day: http://www.bristolnuj.org.uk/2009/11/02/opportunities-day-2009/

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