A former steelworker has followed in his parents’ footsteps by opening a fish and chip shop thanks to help from the SSI Task Force.
Sean Bennett had worked on the blast furnace at the Redcar steelworks for eight years when it closed its doors in September 2015.
Now, just like his parents, he is running his own fish and chip shop in Seaton Carew.
Sean explained: “When SSI first closed down, the Task Force helped us get onto courses; you name it, I applied for it. I just wanted to put myself in the best position to get a job.
“I was lucky enough to get a temporary job with Thirteen Group, and then my mam offered me an opportunity to work for her in one of her fish shops, which was really supportive of her. But I thought to myself, if I’m going to do this, I’m doing it for myself.”
Sean accessed the SSI Business Start Up Support and Grant scheme providing him with support to develop his own business plan as well as funding to help him get started.
He said: “My wife Nikki helped me pull the business plan together, and my mam and dad are running three fish shops at the moment, so I had great support from them.”
Bennetts Traditional Fish and Chips, which is based on Elizabeth Way in Seaton Carew, first opened its doors on 11 July 2017.
“Right in the middle of summer we opened,” Sean laughs, “it was a learning experience, but the Task Force funding really helped us during the crucial early stages.
“Ultimately, I have my mam, dad and wife to thank; they’ve been my rocks and I couldn’t have done this without their help and support.”
Sean added: “I’m in the process of adding chicken parmos to the menu. I’m from Middlesbrough, so it only seemed right!”
Amanda Skelton, Chair of the SSI Task Force, said: “I’m pleased the Task Force has been able to help Sean, and I’m sure his business will be a great success, especially with such a supportive family behind him.”
The Business Start-up Scheme has expanded to support new entrepreneurs from across the whole of the Tees Valley. For more information please call the North East Enterprise Agency on 0191 516 6093.
SSI Task Force Funding remains available for individuals and businesses affected by the closure and more information can be found by visiting www.ssitaskforce.co.uk