In early October, I, like many others, was devastated to hear the public broadcast regarding the closure of the Wilton Steel Works Site.
The announcement of over 2,000 jobs to be lost in the local area and the end of Steel Making in Teesside came as a huge blow to us all.
I listened to the news daily and all I could think was ‘what could I do to help’.
As the manager of a small locally run charity based in Middlesbrough, I knew our organisation could offer a helping hand, but I didn’t exactly know how.
Our objectives are to support individuals and families to access educational, recreational and social activities, and our motto ‘Here to help’ provided the answers.
As a charity, we have the opportunity to respond to community needs, and with a group of passionate people and excellent working partners, it wasn’t long before we had put together a package of support.
Within a week of announcing our support we had engaged with over 170 SSI individuals facing unemployment who needed to gain qualifications with immediate effect. Training Angel, an organisation based within the community centre, offered a range of opportunities including Site Safety Passports, CSCS cards, Team Leading and Asbestos Awareness whilst centre staff supported individuals with making claims for benefits, creating CVs and looking for employment.
Extra staff and volunteers were called in to help as the urgency to get people back into employment was our priority. For some the need was to gain qualifications and recognition for work they had done for over 20 years, whilst for others the priority was to gain new skills which would enable them to explore alternative lines of work.
In December, we decided to capture the stories and journey’s of some of the individuals who were effected by redundancies, so we invited Starsofwellbeing to create a short film of the challenges they faced and the support we were able to offer.