THREE men left jobless when their factory was closed on the orders of Government ministers are hoping to set up their own business venture.
Mick Findlay, Kevin Lynn and Wayne Hogg were among more than 130 disabled workers in the North East made redundant last year when the region’s four Remploy factories were shut following a Government review of the state-owned company.
Between them the three colleagues had clocked up 71 years of service at the Ashington factory, and were among 1,750 Remploy employees at 27 sites across the country who lost their jobs.
Now Wansbeck Labour MP Ian Lavery is hoping that the plan to establish their own business will benefit from a Government pledge of help, support and advice for former Remploy workers.
Mr Lavery has had a meeting with minister for disabled people, Esther McVey. He says she has taken a personal interest in the case of the three Ashington men, and promised to help resolve any problems they face in accessing funding and support from Government sources.
Remploy was established just after the Second World War to provide employment for disabled workers, many of whom were returning home after serving overseas.
Last year the Government said the money spent on them could be better used on integrating disabled workers into mainstream employment. Almost 30 workers lost their jobs at the Ashington factory, and at the time ministers promised an £8m package of tailored support and professional help for Remploy staff across the country seeking alternative employment.
Mick, Kevin and Wayne are hoping to set up their own company embroidering and heat-pressing logos onto T-shirts, image clothing, caps and work wear for companies, clubs and other organisations. They have spent the last six months putting together their business plan.
Mick said: “We have earmarked premises which we could move into, and hope to be up and running as a business within the next few weeks. We were expecting the factory to close, but not perhaps as early as it did, and it was a blow to us all after working there for so long.
“We are determined to succeed with our business because the prospects of finding work didn’t seem an attractive alternative to us.”
Mr Lavery has been pressing the Government to support former Remploy workers to find new jobs. He says he is confident that progress is being made, and is encouraged by the written responses and assurances of support he has had from Mrs McVey.
He said: “I am encouraged by what the minister has told me, but I will continue to do whatever I can to help former Remploy people to find a job, or as in the case of Mick and his colleagues, to launch their own business venture.
“They are to be applauded for coming up with a good idea for their own business to create work for themselves at a time when it is very difficult to find job opportunities in this area.”