As we revealed yesterday, one in five people have been out of work and living off benefits for at least 13 years in Blackburn with Darwen.

The Bank Top area of Blackburn is particularly affected, with up to 66per cent of the working-age population jobless.

We spoke to residents about the reasons behind the long-term unemployment.

KATRINA Reeves has been out of work for 16 years, but since the birth of her daughter three years ago has been desperate to get a job and improve her life.

The 35-year-old said she was so keen for employ-ment that she would do anything, including “goi-ng on the bins”, to earn money to give her daugh-ter the things she needs.

She said: “There’s a vicious circle when it comes to being out of work. I haven’t got the training that I need to get back into work, but I can’t afford to get any training because I don’t have any money.

“The reason I don’t have any money is bec-ause I don’t work and I’m back at square one.”

She said that the last time she worked was when she was 18, or 19.

She had short-term jobs as a debt collector, and at a fairground.

But Katrina, who regul-arly visits the Bank Top Community Centre, in Oakenhurst Road, for supp- ort, said more needed to be done to support those who wanted to work.

She said: “A few years ago I re-sat my GCSEs and I now want to do a nursing course. I would love to be a nurse and you always hear about a shortage of health care staff, but I’m just not sure I will be able to do it.

“This area is really bad. The majority of people don’t work and there are issues with drink and drug problems.

“I think responsibility lies with parents bring-ing up their children in the right way and instilling a will to work. I hate being unemployed.”

Unemployed builder James Doherty, 52, of Stonyhurst Road, said he hasn’t worked for two years and blames the credit crunch for a lack of construction jobs.

He said: “I go to the job centre twice a week, but I don’t know why I bother because there’s nothing.

“It is very difficult to get by because I have always worked. I’m on the breadline. I’ve sold my car and can barely afford to get by. I just can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel. There are a lot of people in this area that are struggling just like me.”

Marie Taylor, 37, said unemployment had seen her lose her home. She was now living at a local hostel.

She said: “I can’t get a job. No employer wants to know you if you’ve been out of work for as long as I have.

“I feel as if there is no help available. Once you are labelled as being out of work there’s no way you can get back in.”

One man in his fifties, who asked to remain anonymous, said that he was out of work and on disability benefit.

He said: “I’m not really trying to get a job, as I know there will be nothing out there for me.”

John Endsleigh, 74, of Oakenhurst Road, added: “I worked all of my life and I’m retired now.

“In my day you would do anything to stay in work and I did countless jobs.

"These days it’s too easy to just live off benefits.”

Who’s to blame for the numbers of long-term unemployed? Add your comments below.