Charlotte Rollin, a 20-year-old fashion student, was forced to turn down a number of unpaid internships – including her “dream opportunity” at a high-street brand – when her savings ran dry after a four month stint working for free during the placement year of her degree.

“Within the fashion industry, experience is everything – without any internships under your belt, it would be nearly impossible to secure a job post-graduation,” the University of Huddersfield undergraduate said. Rollin said she found the situation “extremely disheartening”.“It’s so obvious that these brands have budget to pay their interns, yet the system of free labour has created an elitist culture in which only the rich or London-based applicants stand a chance,” she said.

According to figures from social mobility charity The Sutton Trust, it now costs £1,019 a month in rent, bills and food to do an internship in London – a figure that had risen almost £100 since 2014.
It means taking on a six-month internship in 2018 in the capital would cost a young person £6,114. Meanwhile it costs an average of £827 a month, or £4,965 for six months, to do an unpaid internship in Manchester.
The Sutton Trust said over 40% of young people who have carried out an internship have not been paid.

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