On yer bike to learn about life

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Back in the days when I sported a particularly bad Chris Waddle-esque mullet (no, there isn’t any photographic evidence) delivering the weekly free newspaper was a proper responsibility, especially as I had to do my round in two goes.

This was due to the fact that the freesheets of three decades ago were actually cat killers - nicknamed as such because they had the potential to wipe out Tiddles on the other side of the letterbox given their hefty size.

I enjoyed delivering newspapers immensely and it was this was terribly paid job which led to me wanting to write for the very titles that I was quickly stuffing through front doors.

But before embarking upon my chosen career, I had to find a job which would pay me more than a tenner a week and this is how I ended up spending three years working in a care home.

As a naive 16-year-old, nothing prepared me for life on the frontline of geriatric care. Although I was first assigned pot washing duty, it wasn’t very long before I was snapping on surgical gloves, handed a pot of cream and sent off to get the elderly residents ready for a day of Richard and Judy, jumbo crosswords and afternoon naps. The work was demanding, the pay was dire and the hours could be arduous but I loved every minute of a role which helped me navigate my student years without accruing a penny in debt.

Grafting as a care assistant prepared me for full-time work and the realities of life as a bill payer and nominal grown-up which is why it is surprising to learn that the number of 16 and 17-year-olds in part-time work has almost halved in 20 years.

A study by the Resolution Foundation suggests teenagers, not to mention their parents, would prefer it if they focused on their studies rather than cleaning toilets and serving up over-priced coffee. While I do agree that education must always come first, it mustn’t become the be-all and end-all as young minds need a release so why do something else and get paid for it? The cost of living is only going to go up so why not start earning, not to mention learning about work, as early as you can?