Paul is a quiet, gentle man. He always puts me and our children first – well apart from at 3pm on a Saturday afternoon! With his SSI shift pattern he has been able to be around for Honor and Monica more than myself and manages so well entertaining them, taking them to where they need to be, caring for them and chastising them when needed. The shifts he has worked for the past four years consist of two 12 hour days followed by two 12 hour nights followed by four days off. After seven sets of these shifts he had a period of eighteen days off. Of course I have ensured he spends his time off work wisely – mainly cooking, cleaning and shopping! Actually he’s a dab hand in the kitchen and rustles up most of the meals we eat and provides me with a packed lunch most days. Obviously, at the moment, he has plenty of time on his hands in between job searching and submitting applications so I intend that he carries out a little bit of DIY (fitting the wall lamps in the girls’ bedroom primarily) and researching some new Slimming World meal ideas!
Paul is passionate about Sunderland AFC. He’s had a season ticket, along with his dad, for around 25 years. He’s endured a few ups and many downs in that time but is the type of stalwart the club depends on – there through thick and thin. He loves match day, going for a couple of pre-match pints with his dad, Barry and mate Anth. Unfortunately, he mainly comes home in a rather fed up kind of mood, particularly at present. Given their passion, I’m yet to see them scream, shout or sing at the match. They just go to show their support, enjoy watching the beautiful game and rant. I took Honor to her first match last season – a nil-4 drubbing by Aston Villa. She loved it! At half time I took her up to see her grandad only to find he’d left the ground disgusted by the teams performance! I was a season ticket holder up until Monica arrived so I doubt the girls will get away without being drawn in to the Sunderland AFC way of life (cruel but necessary in our family!).
Teeside is a second home to Paul. He’s worked there for 17 years, the last four at SSI. We’d talked about the idea of moving nearer to his work and liked the look of a few places like Stokesley and Yarm among others. It was probably a pipe dream as our lives are settled here in Sunderland, near to family and friends, but the thought has certainly crossed our minds more than once. Paul enjoys the odd Parmo – a Teeside delicacy that seems to be becoming a more regular feature on menus in Sunderland these days. He also has a slight Teeside/North Yorkshire twang to his speech that appears every so often, particularly when he’s had a few beers. We found out Paul had got the job at SSI when Honor was only a couple of months old. The increase in salary was really going to make a big difference to our lives. Paul was over the moon to be selected as the competition for jobs was very high. The success gave Paul a real confidence boost and a sense of achievement. It was the first time since the age of 18 he had changed jobs and he was immensely proud to be able to call himself a steelworker.
Losing his job has had a crushing effect on Paul. That might sound dramatic but it really has. He felt that this was his dream job and a job for life. He’s gone from the breadwinner to signing on the dole within the space of a fortnight. He’s gone from driving a 76 mile round trip four times a week to being at home 24/7. For a hardworking man, like my husband, it is hard for him to come to terms with. He’s really missing his workmates and the banter. Although he loves us he’d far rather be spending his time providing a secure future for us than doing the school run and cooking the tea. His role as a husband and father is hugely important to him and to us – we couldn’t manage without him – but I want him to feel useful, worthwhile and happy again. The future is uncertain but as I write, Paul is in the next room with his dad (a factory manager in Teeside) and they are searching for jobs, uploading his CV and doing what they can to make sure Paul’s unemployment status is for as short a time as possible.