Great North Road: Five years since the credit crunch

It's five years since the credit crunch first struck - years in which recession has changed this country in many ways, and many millions of people's lives too, in a manner they would rarely have been able to predict.

On this week's News at 10 my colleague Penny Marshall and I will be travelling the length of the Great North Road, the A1, that tracks down the country from North to South, charting the real life recession.

From Edinburgh to Sunderland, Garforth in West Yorkshire to Grantham and Peterborough - how have things changed?

We start our journey in Edinburgh where the collapse of the mighty banks RBS and Bank of Scotland left few in any doubt about how serious the financial crisis was.

But then, few were predicting just how far the fallout would spread. And perhaps the most direct consquence of recession has been the toll on jobs.

The Royal Bank of Scotland Credit: Reuters

Official figures tell us that unemployment has been falling recently, which is of course to be welcomed.

But, there have been enormous changes in how and where we all work since recession hit. It is hard to make exact estimates but not far off three million jobs have disappeared since the crunch.

While many of the people whose posts went will have found other work, the majority of those who have been made redundant are paid much less in subsequent jobs they find.

With unemployment still nearly a million more than before the financial crisis, clearly there are many people who have not been able to find work.

Unemployment figures have risen since the credit crunch Credit: PA

And in some parts of the country, like Scotland or Yorkshire and the Humber, unemployment is on the up again.

Across the country the numberof people who have been out of work long term is still rising.

And a record number of people are working part time, not out of choice, but because they can't get the hours they want.

The Angel of the North statue is covered in heavy snow. Credit: PA

For Sandy Flockart, the loss of his work jet washing patios and driveways has been entirely devastating.

He didn't just lose his job but his friends, his health, as he turned to drink in despair, and nearly, his home, as he fell behind with the rent.

He told me that only the thought that he would let his mother down stopped him from "the ultimate. "he ultimate means suicide, because when one is in that situation every day is a black day."

He is trying to rebuild his life, volunteering at a charity that distributes leftover food around the city, where demand has never been so high.

Working unpaid there has given him a reason to get up in the morning but he fears he has a "snowball's chance in hell" of getting a job when up against others who have very recently lost theirs.

And the phenomenon of increasing self employment is no recipe for an easy life.

Chris Lindsay used to work for RBS, but shocked by the dole, he has started his own business, as well as juggling a job, working for half the pay.

He is determined to try to make a go of his business, but wonders: "Are we going to forever be on the treadmill of almost, almost making enough, and getting enough in to cover what you've spent?"

I ask him if he can carry on: "I try not to think about it because if I think about it, that's when the dread begins to set in."