The Covid disaster got here scything by means of Alejandro’s* life with a pace, ferocity and vindictive thoroughness that stuns him to today. Nearly in a single day, the widowed craftsman’s enterprise supplying leather-based items to outlets, markets and the army folded, his meagre financial savings gave out, his father died from coronavirus, the electrical energy was minimize off and he discovered himself counting on meals banks to feed himself and his teenage daughter.
“Issues had been exhausting earlier than the pandemic,” he says. “However when you’d informed me sooner or later that all the things that’s occurred to me would occur to me, I’d by no means have believed you.
“I began skipping meals in order that I might feed my daughter correctly. I misplaced 12 kilos by means of nerves, not consuming and never sleeping. I used to lie and inform her I wasn’t hungry as a result of I’d been selecting at stuff all day.”
By spring final yr, Alejandro was begging outdoors a Madrid grocery store simply to outlive. He would most likely nonetheless be there now if it had not been for a household he had bought to know on the grocery store – and an unusually altruistic harnessing of social media.
The household’s daughter informed him about Un Mismo Equipo (One Staff), an Instagram account and web site that enables unemployed and sometimes homeless individuals to promote their expertise to potential employers. An organization that makes luxurious motorcycle seats got here throughout Alejandro’s profile and supplied him a job at their manufacturing facility in northern Spain.
The initiative started in June when a good friend of the film-maker Gonzalo Perales despatched him a photograph of a person on a avenue in central Madrid. The person, an electrician by coaching, had made a cardboard signal to attraction for work.
Perales, who “went a bit viral” on social media 4 years in the past when he made a video about being identified with leukaemia, posted the image on his Instagram account.
Inside an hour, the person had been supplied a job. The next day, Perales met a person on the streets of Madrid who was in search of work as a waiter. He uploaded his story and, inside 48 hours, 15 job interviews had rolled in.
Perales quickly realised that lots of those that had misplaced their jobs due to the pandemic had been individuals of their 40s and 50s who had labored for many years as waiters, tradespeople or craftworkers. When Covid caught, they out of the blue discovered themselves minimize off from the employment market as a result of they didn’t know the way to search for jobs on-line.
“As we speak, you want a pc and laptop expertise to get a job as a result of that’s the place 95% of jobs are marketed,” says Perales. “To start with, I used to exit on to the streets of Madrid on my scooter and in my spare time in search of individuals who’d not been on the streets for too lengthy. I talked to them and requested in the event that they had been in search of work. I interviewed them after which tried to write down it up properly to place on-line.”
He has now has recruited two colleagues – Pablo García and Miguel Jiménez – to assist develop the venture, and is now spending 10 hours a day fielding inquiries as phrase of Un Mismo Equipo spreads and social media customers inform individuals on the streets about it.
The thought is straightforward: individuals make contact through Instagram or the web site and are despatched a questionnaire to fill in. After that, Perales chats to them and publishes their profiles in order that potential employers can have a look.
“It’s like a extra human sort of LinkedIn,” he says. “We inform individuals’s tales in a pleasant manner in order that others can empathise with them. Quite a lot of the individuals we work with are of their 50s and have been working of their trades for 30 years in order that they have a variety of expertise. That may actually assist corporations.”
Because of their cell phones and free wifi in cafes and different public locations, dozens of individuals a day at the moment are getting in contact to search for work, and the Instagram web page has greater than 30,000 followers.
Though Spain’s financial system is recovering from the devastation wrought by Covid – and the variety of individuals out of labor is lowering – unemployment stays at 14.3%, whereas the EU common is 6.9%.
As demand for Un Mismo Equipo grows, Perales and his colleagues are hoping to rework the venture right into a social start-up.
“We’re not seeking to turn out to be one other Save the Kids or Unicef,” he says. “But when we bought sufficient individuals concerned and sufficient partnerships and advertising and marketing, we might assist 1,000 individuals a yr as a substitute of 100.” Within the final months the venture has helped get 13 individuals jobs throughout Spain.
Alejandro, who has simply completed his first week of labor in 18 months, is delighted to be working once more and has even begun to permit himself the posh of creating plans. He’s saving up in order that his daughter can cease residing with relations in Madrid and are available to hitch him up north.
“In a couple of months, I’ll hire a bit place for us right here,” he says. “I can eat and I can dwell with a little bit of dignity now.”
*Alejandro shouldn’t be his actual identify