24 Feb 2012

After 2,000 applications, Stephen gets a job

Channel 4 News has been following Stephen Stubbs’ 15-month job hunt, and after 2,000 job applications Stephen can reveal he is no longer one of the UK’s 2.7 million unemployed people.

Now, brace yourself. I know we don’t do this very often, but we bring you a happy story. Channel 4 News has been following one man’s 15 month job hunt.

Stephen Stubbs, who is visually impaired, felt he was unemployable. But now, after 2,000 applications, the Student Loans Company described his interview performance as outstanding and has offered him a position as an accounts processor in Darlington.

This is the fifth occasion I’ve knocked on the door of Stephen Stubbs but his face is different this time. Gone are the worry lines, the tired eyes of staring at a PC screen – instead replaced by a look of pride. For the first time in 15 months Stephen has a job!

It’s been a long time coming; 2,000 job applications but last week he had an interview at the Student Loans Company and the news was good: a firm job offer working between four in the afternoon and two in the morning.


As we travel the short distance from his home village into Darlington, he talks non-stop. He’s ten-to-the-dozen about all that stuff that the employed regard as an inconvenience, the excitement of getting a security pass, how the canteen smelled as he walked in for his interview and how amazed he was that some of his soon-to-be colleagues were turning up for their shift in jeans.

He’s now shopping for something smarter. We’re in Boyes, on the High Row. A smart white shirt is picked up, but when I tell him that it’s £8 he returns it to the shelf – times have been tight for a long time.

As we sip coffee around the corner he tells me how important this job is for him, and it’s about so much more than money: “I’m ecstatic , pinching myself, just looking forward to the contract coming seeing it in black and white and signing it. It means I’ve got my my self respect back, the lows have been awful, the highs virtually non-existent …been arduous for me and the family at best”.

Dark moments

It’s been an awfully long road to get here. We’ve filmed Stephen sending off just some of his 2,000 job applications, the dark moments when he heard he’d been rejected from just one of three interviews he’d had after all that effort and his meeting with the employment minister, Chris Grayling to let him know how so many in the north east are feeling right now.

Today he’s revelling in the mundane; shopping for biros, notepads and not feeling guilty about accepting a three quid coffee from a reporter. Back at the cafe he tells me why his good news should be welcomed by the 2.7 million now unemployed in the UK.

“If I can do it anyone can do it, just got to believe in yourself and it will happen. Fortunately, my case was highlighted by Channel 4 News and some people contacted me after that and helped.

“Mike Duckett devoted his time to coach me through interview techniques and I’ve also got to thank the staff at the agency Triage who helped me get the job.”

Stephen Stubbs is one man who shatters one really widely held feeling in these parts: even if you’re 47, you’ve writen 2,000 job applications and you live in the north east – that doesn’t mean you’re confined to the scrapheap.