Thing is with freelance work you can build a mighty portfolio of stuff which you have actually done for clients (as opposed to just classroom projects) and this will stand you in good stead when (and it will, eventually) the economy gets better and agencies start recruiting in earnest again.
As those annoying government adverts say: "the future, its in our hands"!
Look at it like this: Students are graduating with design degrees/diplomas and there is no work cos the economy is crap etc etc. Graduates are being thrown into the deep end from the beginning because of this and we have to learn fast or re-skill and become plumbers. Hence, if you take the correct approach to this experience, you will come out of it stronger in the end.
The upshot is (and I may be laughed out of town but here goes) that the creative graduates of today will be more savvy, more experienced and more resourceful having risen to the challenges that this recession throwing at us!
We may be "unemployed" at the moment but we may be more employable in the future if you approach things in the right way!
Great work. Unfortunately the UK design job industry is a sad state of affairs, and always will be in my opinion. It is over saturated and highly competitive. Graduates get a raw deal when it comes to trying to break into the industry as employers seem to always put experience above qualifications. How are you ever meant to get your first job if nobody wants to take on a grad with no experience? And if you are lucky enough to be taken on by a company as junior, you get paid absolutely peanuts and have to spend years working your way up. It's ridiculous. My advice, having been in that position once, is to keep creative - whether it's freelance or personal projects, everything counts - always try and keep afresh of current design trends and where the design industry is going - persevere and you'll get there in the end!!
<rant>sorry to interject slightly here.. but if you have no experience and a qualification you would still get paid peanuts... because you have no experience, simple as that, i worked my way from a junior to where i am now, i didn't have a problem with it. I don't know what graduates of today are expecting when they enter the real world.
I know from the "vocational course" I was on, a lot of people were expecting to be able to walk out and pick up jobs in the real world, although if I'm honest I think part of the blame for that misconception lies with the course tutors selling the course with that idea.
My point was that graduates on Vocational and Degree courses expect to walk out of University and change the design world without actually having to do sh1tty jobs to begin with and actually learn something... I did a little bit of teaching at the Auckland Design School when i lived in New Zealand, I was the first lecturer to teach Print Design, NONE of the students knew anything about bleed or designing for print.. made me very worried about the future of design in that country.