The focus of current government policy on maximising labour market participation among those of working age is known to have particular implications for people with multiple problems and needs. This article reports preliminary findings from a study based on in-depth interviews with 50 people with experience of not only unemployment, but several additional problems, such as homelessness, ill-health or disability, substance abuse, the criminal justice system, and disruptive family relationships. It points particularly to the traumatic nature of the lives experienced by many of those participating in the study and to the corrosive culture of self-blame to which they were subject. It concludes by arguing for more holistic ways of supporting people in such situations and for a different approach to assessing 'job readiness'
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