Thursday, December 22, 2016

News: Former Rotherham steelworkers find new groove

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Two former Tata steelworkers from Kimberworth are turning the tables on redundancy after setting up their own business, Vinyl Soundbar, in Rotherham's indoor market.

Ian Hawkridge and Jason Sayles have been friends for many years and shared a mutual interest in music and record collecting so when the pair were made redundant in March they tracked down support to help them set up their own vinyl record business.

Both Ian and Jason attended a self-employment "taster session" for steelworkers at a special resource centre which was set up at Aldwarke by the Tata Taskforce. Ian also took part in a "start-up" workshop and met with business start-up advisor, Martyn Benson, from Rotherham Council's regeneration arm RiDO, before their idea for the record business got off the ground.

Bob Langley (RiDO Business Adviser) will be following up on the initial advice by providing further support to Ian and Jason on developing their business.

Ian and Jason secured their unit in the indoor market and as new stallholders, qualified for two months free rent and charges to help them launch the business, as well as ongoing support from Rotherham Council's Retail Investment Team.

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Ian said: "We thought there was a gap in the market for vinyl record sales in Rotherham – people are becoming more and more interested in vinyl again and the last vinyl record shop closed down more than ten years ago. The response from customers so far has been great."

Cllr. Chris Read, Leader of Rotherham Council, who chaired the Tata Taskforce, said: "The issues at Tata have made the past year a very difficult time for workers and their families. The partners involved in the Tata Taskforce have been making every effort to help those affected by helping people find alternative jobs, access training, or simply highlighting new opportunities so this is a real good news story."

Last month, Cllr. Read reported that the taskforce, which was set up in response to 720 potential redundancies at Tata, saw RiDO provide support to 323 people and a further 158 people who were deemed to be at risk, but not selected for redundancy. Of the 323, 131 have new jobs or are self-employed. 106 people made claims to Jobseekers Allowance. Only 16 people were still claiming JSA, which was considered to be a testament to the value of the support provided.

Support for those facing redundancy has also been offered through a series of job fairs, and a Taskforce Resource Centre which was set up.

One-to-one support has been given to help people prepare their CVs, whilst visitors to the centre have been able to access training funding.

The Tata Taskforce chaired by Cllr Read involved John Healey MP, Rotherham and Sheffield Councils, Sheffield City Region LEP, the Sheffield City Region Combined Authority, UK Steel Enterprise, Government agencies, the Skills Funding Agency, Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber, trade unions and Tata Steel.

RiDO website

Images: RMBC


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